Hi there! I’m Lauren, creator of Save, Give and Spend, and Dave Ramsey-trained financial coach.
Why do I love to nerd out over a budget? Well, to be honest, I haven’t always been this way. I used to loathe budgeting and I’d even AVOID looking at my bank account!
Because I never knew how much money I had, I always erred on the side of extreme frugality. Except when I didn’t. And that got me into trouble.
Then I married my husband Kyle and we decided together that being on the same page with money was important to us. We also made a commitment not to go into debt once my student loan was paid off.
It was going pretty well. Not gonna lie—we’ve had our fair share of money arguments and struggles just like anyone else! But once we worked through the first few months it got a lot better and easier as we started working as a team instead of adversaries.
We paid off the student loan and started saving for our move back to the states. Oh yeah, we lived in Guam our first year of marriage while Kyle was in the Navy! That was a fun adventure, although searching for jobs from the other side of the world made it impossible to land an interview. So we built up a solid emergency fund to help get us through the transition of finding jobs and a place to live once we got back to the States.
And since a move across the world wasn’t enough of a challenge (just kidding), we decided to throw grad school into the mix. I did my classes online while Kyle worked on his Master’s in Leadership at Denver Seminary. By this time, we were living on my teacher’s salary and cash-flowing my degree. (The military G.I. Bill paid for Kyle’s).
Living on a modest salary and paying for grad school out of pocket meant sacrifice, careful budgeting, and VERY little spending. We made the most of it and today I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change anything about that journey. It was totally worth it!
Two years later in May 2015, we both graduated and welcomed our twin daughters, Annalise and Evelyn. That was a CRAZY month!
As Kyle started his new job and I settled into my new full-time career as mom to the twins, we applied the same determination we had when we paid for grad school to now feeding and clothing two more human beings.
The budget became ever-more precious to me as I breathed a sigh of relief every time we balanced it and planned for the month to come. It gave me reassurance that we had enough. Not enough to go on vacation and buy clothes from Baby Gap, but enough to survive, and even thrive.
We still had to make difficult decisions and keep saying no to some things we wanted. I never imagined that I’d WANT to spend all my money on these two little people! And believe me, it would have been easy to.
We’re also Christians and feel strongly about giving on a regular basis, not because of any rule or obligation, but because Matthew 10:8 says “Freely you have received, freely give.” I’m not saying this because we’re saints or anything like that (SO far from it), but because how we spend money is a reflection of our values and priorities.
Kids are expensive (duh) so we had to be even more intentional than before. If generosity was truly one of our core values, we were going to have to be deliberate about finding the right balance in the budget between giving and taking care of our growing family’s needs.
Not to mention, we have other goals, too! We want to help our children afford college, and to retire with plenty in savings. We dreamt of going on a memorable family vacation and owning a house with a backyard.
Even though we had a budget, thinking about how we were ever going to reach any of these longer term goals was overwhelming! So we went back to the basics of Dave Ramsey’s seven baby steps.
Guess what? It started working! By focusing on one goal at a time, we started saving aggressively, spending more efficiently, and had more peace about the future. Part of this process was realizing that I can’t control everything and that I am simply called to manage what God has given me the best I can. My job isn’t to worry about tomorrow; all I can do is prepare and trust that God will take care it.
I became even more passionate about our budget as I thought about what our lives would have been like to have twin infants and a mountain of student loans. I would’ve had to go back to work whether I wanted to or not. We’d have the extra stress of somehow finding room for minimum payments and would have had to delay working toward our dreams.
I felt so strongly about this, that I started helping friends and family with their budgets, and I coordinated Financial Peace University at our church. A passion to help others have financial freedom and to eliminate the overwhelm was ignited. I couldn’t get enough; nothing was better than seeing stress turn to hope and frustration become victory!
In 2016, I completed training as a Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach, and I now have the privilege of coaching people to transform their finances and live for their purpose instead of payments.
It’s awesome! I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ll never get tired of hearing, “We found an extra $500 in our budget!” or “I got the first three debts in the snowball paid off!”
I’m not a genius, I don’t have a magic formula to make millions, and I’m not a math whiz (that’s why we have calculators). I’m just a living example of what determination and a plan can accomplish, and I’m here for you as you set out to accomplish your goals, too!