The Difference Between Those Who Meet Their Money-Management Goals and Those Who Don’t

posted by Andrea | 01/9/2015

money cup

Do you have a money-management goal you’d like to hit in 2015? If so, you’re in good company with millions of others who want to save more, spend less, make more, and owe less!

I get it! Less debt is good and more savings is great.

I think money-management goals are fabulous. However, I also know that many of the people who set money-management goals this year will NOT achieve them… simply because they have the wrong frame of mind.


In my experience, there seems to be a very distinct difference between people who rarely ever get ahead financially (no matter how much they make) and people who seem to effortlessly grow their savings account (no matter how little they make).

For the first type of people, saving money implies a chore, being deprived, living a horrible lifestyle, and being “restricted” by their budget.

For the second type of people, saving money implies a sense of accomplishment, a rewarding life, and the thrill of delayed gratification. 

Did you catch the difference?

It’s all our attitude towards our financial situation and what type of lifestyle we feel we must hold onto.


photo source

For example, you could easily make twice as much money as Dave and I do, but if you spend all of it every year, Dave and I will still be miles ahead of you in our savings goals because we live well below our means and stash away money every month. Similarly, you could make half as much as Dave and I, live an extremely minimalistic lifestyle, and pinch every single penny… and there’s a decent chance you’ll come out ahead of us at the end of the year.

INCOME is not the deciding factor here… it’s ATTITUDE and LIFESTYLE!

For one person or family, going out to eat once a week to a frugal restaurant with BOGO coupons might seem like a fabulous luxury. To someone else, ONLY going out once a week and/or going to a less-than-5-star restaurant is simply degrading and horrible.

For one person, buying used is just what they do. For someone else, buying used is totally humiliating.

For one person, premium cable, smart phones, and all the latest gadgets are optional and only as their budget allows. For someone else, they are all necessities that are paid for without a second thought as to where the money is coming from.

I’m confident that a change in attitude and/or lifestyle will NOT happen overnight — but I also know that by simply changing the way you view your current financial situation and being willing to make a few  lifestyle changes will give you a much MUCH better chance of hitting those money-management goals you set for yourself this year.

Wondering where to start? Let me help!

If one of your goals is to get your finances on-track this year, I would HIGHLY recommend downloading my free, and very simple, Finance-Tracking workbook (see below to download it).

This workbook is NOT a budget in any way (there are plenty of those available on the web these days). My Finance-Tracking workbook is simply a way to track exactly how much money you bring in, and (more importantly) exactly how much money you spend in a variety of categories on a monthly and yearly basis.

The cool thing about using a Finance-Tracking workbook is that once you have a very clear idea of how much you’re actually spending in various categories, you’ll be able to make a much more accurate and achievable budget based on your current number — instead of just some generic percentages you read in a finance book or on a money-management blog.

You’ll be able to see exactly how much you’re spending on entertainment, travel, clothes, going out to eat, groceries, utility bills, etc. and when you have those numbers staring you right back in the face, it’s pretty hard to overlook your overspending 🙂

I’ve been using some version of this workbook since my sophomore year in college, and thousands of others have been using it since I shared it on my blog 4 years ago — so yes, I feel it is a tremendously helpful (yet extremely simple) money-management tool.

Using my Finance-Tracking workbook could be one small, simple step towards meeting your money-management goals this year. I hope it works as well for you as it does for our family!

Download the Free Workbook:

Clicking on the links below will automatically download it to your computer.

More Information about this Workbook:

I realize I didn’t spend a ton of time talking about the workbook in this post, but the links below offer more information if you want it.

Here are my answers to some FAQ’s I get regarding this workbook.

Here’s my original 2011 Finance-Tracking Workbook, with all my tips for how I use this workbook

Cheers to small, positive changes in 2015!

top image credit


Filed under: LifeFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. Diana P


    One of the biggest attitude adjustments I had when it came to money was my perception of “budget.” It was always a dirty word in my vocabulary. I associated it with restriction, rules, lack, someone telling me I couldn’t have or do ___ (fill in the blank). In educating myself and changing my spending habits, we started thinking of our budget as our “spending plan” instead. Suddenly it was a tool that I could use to allow me to spend as needed, according to the plan. Instead of it being something telling me I couldn’t do something, it was a tool that gave me the green light to spend – as long it was a part of the plan. All of the guilt and angst went away and I changed NOTHING but my midset. It was very freeing!!! I was able to stick to the plan, and even get excited if I didn’t spend everything earmarked in a category. Try it – it’s amazing!!!


  2. Terri


    Thank you so much for this workbook & for your site in general – both have been such a help to me and my family over the years.
    May God Bless you and yours!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Terri! Glad you’re finding some helpful and useful information here 🙂


  3. Karen


    Thank you for this. I have to agree it’s the attitude that makes the difference. My husband always says it’s not about how much money you make but how you save.


  4. Kirsten


    I’ve been using your spreadsheet for the last year and a half. Thank you for posting it! I had one of my own (I’m an engineer and love spreadsheets) but preferred your formatting (and colors!) better.

    My husband and I luckily have a similar view on money and were able to buy our first house three years after graduation. His parents were shocked. It wasn’t until this Christmas that they realized we’re smart with money and haven’t gotten ourselves in trouble by buying a house while having student loans. We had to explain to them that we’ve still been able to pay off two of three loans early and can live on one income. You’re very right, it’s all about priorities and attitude!


  5. Kim


    You’ve hit the nail on the head!


  6. Debbie D


    Thank you! I was looking for this on your website yesterday, but couldn’t find it. Thank you! 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome — it just took a couple days to make it to my blog this year 😉


  7. Rebecca


    I have found that how I plan/budget/track spending changes over the years as our situation changes. The one consistent is that it is on a spread sheet. I love a good spread sheet.
    One big change that we made is that we call it our spending plan instead of our budget. Kind of a mindset shift instead of a being restricted on a budget we are in control of our spending plan.


  8. Siobhan


    Very true…attitude is so important. My husband and I have some differing attitudes about finances, which is wearing me down a bit. I’m more frugal & like tracking our spending. He feels restricted by budgets, etc. Any suggestions and advice on this area is always helpful 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    When we were first married, Dave was much LESS frugal and I was much MORE frugal. We’ve both kind of moved a bit more towards the “middle ground”. I’m willing to splurge on things that are important to both of us and he’s more willing to go without things in order to make it possible for us to splurge later.

    As far as a budget — I’ll be honest, we really don’t even use a real “budget” anymore. I just use my finance-tracking workbook and we kind of just “know” what we should be spending in each category. Like I know I always spend between $60 and $80 on groceries each week — except if I’m stocking up on something like diapers, formula, big cuts of meat, etc. Then I allow more for that week. And in general, we try not to buy clothes for ourselves unless it’s an absolute necessity (and even then, we try to find sales). We don’t go out to eat all that often, but when we do, it’s either because we have a giftcard + coupons or we’ve decided it’s time for a little splurge.

    Not sure if that’s helpful or not, but I definitely DO think you can still be quite frugal without a strict budget.


  9. Alicia


    I love this post- seeing where my money goes and knowing where my pitfalls are is helpful in tempting situations!
    I use (but there are others, I am sure) to track my spending, which is really useful if you don’t use much cash (i love the miles!). The site can track your total assets and liabilities (even your 401K or stock account) as well as where you’re spending. You even get a free credit check every 3 months!
    Personally, I need it to be automatic if I am going to do it, and this way really helps me! It’s great to watch the debt go down and my total worth go up!


    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like you have a really great system going on! I know TONS of people who use!!


  10. lydia @ Five4FiveMeals


    Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I think it is so easy (speaking from my own experience) to get caught in that financial trap and you let yourself feel victimized like you can’t get ahead. But I learned a few years ago that it’s all about choices. Choices got us in to debt and choices got us out of debt.