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tunabudget - pre-spending your life so you can see


Tunabudget Worksheet Plan


First, Tunabudget is your own budget worksheet plan. The worksheet is simple. It primarily is a spreadsheet where all your estimated (household) income is pre-spent on a single sheet of paper, paycheck by paycheck, for one to two years. All estimated expenses, debts, and costs are paid for using the estimated income on the spreadsheet. The worksheet is reviewed regularly and enables you to identify for you (and your companion) where you’ve been financially, where you’re at today, where you’re going for the next year or so. The Tunabudget worksheet plan is the HOW TO get to where you want or must be, financially – and, in one piece. And when such internal recognition takes place (because you actually filled out the worksheet), you will quickly understand and know from ‘within’ what changes in life must take place, be it for yourself, as a parent(s), as a spouse(s), and even with revised repayment proposals to your creditors, if needed. Your Tunabudget worksheet plan will clearly bring peace of mind and a strong sense of purpose, because you will have taken ownership of your current and future financial well-being. For you, it may become the most effective budget plan ever. It is completely private, simple to use, always in draft form, free of any material cost, and very, very powerful. 


The Tunabudget worksheet plan will also strengthen your marriage and family relationships, help satisfy creditors by finding the best debt repayment solutions, get and stay out of debt, save money, and become more financially secure and self-reliant. Bottom line, it allows you to see and understand more clearly your mental, emotional, and financial well-being so that appropriate changes can more readily be made by the stakeholders. Call it simple, but it will enable you to do hard things. Call it what you will, but it works. And it starts to work almost immediately, although it may take a few months or so to really get things in order.


Seeing it All on Paper is How Change Takes Place


If you’re honest by listing all your household income, expenses, and debts, things could get really ugly; then things should become beautiful. This is probably the most important standard when preparing for the Tunabudget experience. What does honesty really mean to you? Are you honest? And, when it comes to the Tunabudget worksheet plan, you need to know that it often starts out like an ugly ‘collision’ of sorts before it turns positive. To be very clear and to keep it very simple, here’s what you do: you have to be fully transparent and fill out the worksheet completely. 


For example, you have to list every household debt, all your actual expenses, and all your income, etc., even if you have to take some time and research the same. Nothing can be left off the spreadsheet; every obligation needs to be listed. If you’re married, you put it all on the worksheet for both spouses. You don’t hide anything from anyone. Anything short of this and you get an ‘F’ grade; you fail, and you may as well not even do it. This is about fixing everything so it all has to be on the worksheet. It’s okay to do this as you’ll soon understand that is how you get ‘everything’ resolved. Now, having said that, if you’re willing to be completely honest here, let’s talk about how this applies to the Tunabudget worksheet plan.


First, all sources of expected income and expenses are put on the worksheet. Don’t leave off any income, or expenses. Be accurate in the amounts. For the income, list each of the dates where income is expected and the net amount of expected income. It’s completely fine to have multiple income dates and amounts in a given month or period of time; it’s not done by months, but by dates and amounts of expected income for those dates. You’re going to be pre-spending all that income, pay-check by pay-check for an entire year; you’ll be allocating that income to cover the expenses you’ll also list. 


Using an electronic worksheet enables you to copy expected income out for an entire year in minutes, where the numbers can then be fine-tuned. But the whole purpose here is to bring all household income together, completely, on a single budget worksheet. Believe it or not, there’s a special sweetness that comes when you’re of ‘one heart’ money-wise. And, creditors may need to see your worksheet if you’re in a heavy debt load situation that needs to be restructured. So, you can’t hide any income or expenses from a spouse, a creditor, etc. In short, you’re not being honest and completely transparent if all income and expenses are not put onto the budget worksheet.  So, be honest. Be fully transparent – both spouses.


Again, it bears repeating, you need to go overboard in being honest and transparent in the budget worksheet. And it may take some time and work to complete this process – that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world if, at first, things don’t look that good, etc.  It is an exercise that’s intended for you (and your spouse) to see how bad (or good) it really is. So, you put everything on the worksheet, and don’t hide anything. If you have heavy debts, go the extra mile and list not only the creditor’s name, but the address, account number, phone number, balance owed, and a contact name if available. List family debts, charged off debts, even bankruptcy debts. 


Put it all there, and all payment amounts in the payment column. This includes mortgages, credit cards, car loans, student loans, signature loans, medical, dental, family debts, old loans, charged off loans, etc. Perhaps make some calls to find out current payment, balance, account number, and other repayment and contact information if need be. The goal here is to get it all out of your head, and onto a single piece of paper. If you’re not honest and keep information held back, you’re just keeping the burden in your head; it’s time to get it off your mind and onto a piece of paper so you can breathe – it’s time to let it all go, right? If you don’t want real peace of mind, then don’t list it all.


Can Big Changes Really Be Made?


Let’s continue with the expenses. Besides listing all debts and such, what about things you are not paying that you would like to start paying? Take the following examples for consideration. 


  • What if a mother wanted to be home (or work from home) with her children, and the reduced household income affected the so-called family income? 

  • What if you wanted to get a new(er) or additional car, or a home and the new house payment is more money than currently being paid? 

  • How about starting a savings account for emergencies, and other purposes? 

  • What about paying religious contributions? 


The Tunabudget worksheet is more than a budget, it is a ‘plan’. Your plans can and will change from time to time, so it’s always in draft form. You’re supposed to work it over, change it up, and look for solutions as you enter in different amounts for everything as you want things to be. Go ahead, and put it all down there as to what ‘you’d like to see happen’ (i.e., more savings, etc.), even knowing full well that the income may be much less than the expenses, and a negative number will be running at the bottom of each paycheck date. You’re supposed to use the worksheet to create a budget that will be the way you intend to have things work in your family’s lives; it should be updated at least a couple of times per month. It’s often going to be the case where you run a deficit in reality and on paper too. That’s okay. Think on it for a while. Take the time you need. 


Unless you’re Superman, this step of creating a plan is supposed to be painful, as you realize that you have to change something to get where you want to be. It’s only when you develop your plan that you can ‘see’ the reality of your situation, and then start to ask yourself what needs to change so that you can get the pre-spending plan to balance with the income. It may mean that you have to make some big changes, like downsize your vehicle, or your home, etc. Work with the numbers until you come up with something that makes sense for you, and your spouse, and family. 


Yes, you may be looking at a negative, depressing, stressful, and even horrible reality. That’s still okay. In fact, you are supposed to be in this ugly state of mind for a few days or weeks while you try to make sense of your Tunabudget worksheet plan. But peace of mind will come sooner if you actually prepare a worksheet with real intent; otherwise it may not come. Remember, you are in charge of this worksheet plan, and you can change anything on it, income, expenses, and debt repayment strategies – yes, all three. 


Again, at first, it’s supposed to be really hard and painful, possibly. Why? Because you’ve finally getting it all out of your head; you’re taking it seriously by being totally honest and listing everything. You can now see it on a ‘piece of paper’, together, what it is that has been bothering you, and what you really want to have happen – even big changes. But this time, you’re seeing it outside of your head(s), and the anger, frustration, and contention isn’t nearly as bad. You actually start to feel relief and less depressed  because it is on a ‘piece of paper’ sitting on the kitchen table, and not taking up precious space in your head. You’re beginning to feel some relief. 


Soon enough, however, comes the better part. You can now attack it, whereas before it was like trying to see the back of your head without using a mirror. You own your Tunabudget worksheet plan, all your income, assets, expenses, debt, and the proposed big changes you really want to make. It is your life, your new life. And you can, together if married, do something about it. If you have a heavy debt load that can’t readily be repaid, you can approach your creditors and show them your plan and convince them that you need new repayment terms. You may want to sell some expensive assets and reduce debt that way. You can increase your income, or cut back on other discretionary expenses. Nothing can stop you from making decisions and changes. You are the sole rightful owner of where your Tunabudget worksheet plan will take you.


Getting Rid of the Stress, the Anger


Again, realize that your crazy income and spending life patterns of the past are no longer being recycled round and round in your head and causing you stress. You can now start to see more clearly what changes need to be made. Over time, usually three to six months, the changes start to happen as you make well-intentioned changes and adjustments that everyone agrees on. So, while you’re working your Tunabudget worksheet plan, realize that at first, it’s an exercise where you will just be adjusting the numbers on your plan as you make changes, until you get a plan that starts to work for you, and makes sense. It is always in draft form and should be reviewed and changed every couple of weeks or so. 


Again, at first, it may not make any sense on paper. This is a process, an exercise, and not some typical budget procedure where it’s done for the whole year at the first pass. Maybe you’ll be in good shape and there won’t be any ugly stress points upfront, and you can just use it to better define your income and spending goals. If not, however, hang in there. For many people, this first phase may be an ugly collision of sorts of using transparency and honesty to just get it out of your head and on a ‘piece of paper’ (i.e., spreadsheet). So, chin up. Now, it will start getting good over the next few days and weeks as you decide to make changes in your life and corresponding numbers will be reflected on your plan. In short, for most people, it’s supposed to be a mess at this first phase so don’t panic or give up. Your Tunabudget worksheet plan is to be frequently adjusted as small changes take place, as life takes place, because you are discovering, internally, what needs to be done. And you can do that as a couple too. Say goodbye to your stress and anger, forever.


Too Much Debt?


Let’s continue some more; now for the fun part. Assuming you have way too much debt; debt whose burden is really too heavy and is ruining your life. Maybe it was acquired through adversity, or being unwise, or even foolish. Let’s say, for you, it’s just too heavy, even overwhelming debt. This is important, so pay attention. You signed on or otherwise were blessed with this burden of debt if it resulted through some sort of adversity situation. Adversity can be a blessing to refine one’s life if you’ll let it. In all likelihood though, somewhere along the line, you own your indebtedness, it’s your responsibility. In most cases, you most likely even signed your name promising to pay it – in writing. So, let’s talk about honesty. Honest people pay their debts, and if they absolutely can’t, they do everything in their power to do so, for as long as it takes. You are responsible for your debts, so what do you do if you can’t repay your debts per the original agreed upon terms? How do you account for every one of those debts when they add up to more than your capability to repay? How will you eventually get those balances to a zero balance? 


Using your Tunabudget worksheet plan, you can go ahead and list every single one of those debts, and show the full balance and the full payment on the worksheet. And as you then start to pre-spend your future paychecks, you can then allocate your income to ‘pay something’ towards each of those debts, right? Your worksheet can be used to negotiate repayment terms to each of the creditors by showing them how much and when you can make repayment? Sooner or later, every debt you promised to repay will need to be repaid; hopefully your debt will be paid by you over time. A third party may step in to repay; maybe the creditor will end up charging it off as uncollectable debt. As you figure out a repayment strategy, use your plan to figure out what debts will need to be restructured with some sort of ‘workout’ plan, loan modification, or having your loan split in two (i.e., A and B notes). Negotiate with your creditors to an equitable repayment plan that fits in with your plan. On your plan, you can pre-spend your future income in a responsible and honest way to meet your needs and still repay your debts as ‘best you can’. Can you see why and how being honest makes sense?  


Again, this principle of being honest and transparent needs to be underscored. Since you promised to repay your debts, even if your debts fell upon you through some sort of adversity, it doesn’t matter. You own it. So, accept it. And know that you will be paying for it. And, because you have recognized and accepted full responsibility for it, sometimes you’re just not in a position to repay it according to its promised terms. That’s okay. Life happens. And, you still have to make good on it – as best you can, per your Tunabudget worksheet plan. You may not want to see it. You may even refuse to even deal with it, until now, anyway. But, because you are honest, it all goes on the worksheet. If you have too much debt, you have too much debt. You’re not alone. Most people’s plans are probably upside down too, and show a deficit. That’s why people are living off of credit cards, etc. Don’t lose hope. Just do your best. 


The Discouraging Hard Part


As you create your Tunabudget worksheet plan, study it out, deal with some of the ugly agony of the realization of where you are at, you’ll begin to see how you got yourself in this place, regardless of whether or not it’s your fault. At this point, it can be pretty discouraging and hard. The answers don’t seem to be there, and to exercise some patience for a week or two is what needs to happen. That goes for yourself and for your spouse if you’re married. If you’re sincere about this (i.e., finding solutions), your answers will come to you perhaps when you’re least thinking about it. But answers will come, from within your heart. You will come to understand what changes need to take place. And, excitement will begin to blossom in your mind and heart. And you will clearly begin to see what changes need to be made and what paths you will need to take to get resolution, even if those actions seemed to be too difficult the day before. You will know what changes to make without any question, and will in no way ‘look back’. 


Again, sure, this first part could literally be a one or two-week phase, or even a month or so. But once you get the worksheet to this stage - where you’re staring at numbers that ‘don’t work’ - you may even want to step away from it and let it cool off on the back burner for a bit. You can come back to it and look at it again with a fresh set of rested eyes, and see if there are some new feelings. You will open the door and start to recognize potential solutions you never thought possible. This is the powerful part of your Tunabudget worksheet plan experience. Potential changes are coming from ‘within’, not from without. You are in charge. You come to accept that you are responsible, you have to provide, you promised to repay, and you are now going to do it on your own new terms as best you can.


Can Creditors Really Change Repayment Terms?


But, what about the creditor’s terms and conditions? Suppose you can’t possibly make the required payments when they cannot be made ‘on paper’? Are you really at an impasse? No, you’re not. What can you really do? Since you have every intention to repay your debts, you will have to repay them on ‘your’ terms for the time being. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is, assuming you’re being honest. So, if you need to give a haircut to the original terms, then offer to repay according to the newly modified on your budget worksheet. You need to get your income, expenses, and debt repayments to balance. Take your restructured repayment plan, or Tunabudget worksheet plan, and give it to your creditors. Change the original terms, huh? Yes. If you owed a payment of $100 per month, and you’re only able to pay $50 per month (i.e., $25/check), then present the plan to your creditors for the next six months until things change. Secured creditors (i.e., mortgages, auto loans) may be less willing to negotiate, and you’ll have to ask yourself if you’re really still in a home you can still afford – all things considered.


So, do that if you need to. Adjust down the debt repayment amounts, as well as cut other expenses, to make the income and the outgo reconcile to zero at the bottom of the pay date. This is why it will likely take some time to go through the process of changing things up. You have to make the numbers balance on paper; the income (paycheck by paycheck), needs to be pre-spent and expenses and even debt repayments may need to be adjusted to make the numbers work. You will have to pre-spend your income out of any deficit. 


Dealing with the Creditors


If necessary, your Tunabudget worksheet plan will be used to show all the stakeholders and creditors you owe money to, how and when you will, in fact, repay them. They’ll probably counter-offer you and ask for more, but just stick to your plan and tell them that’s your finest pitch - because it is. You are completely honest with everything that’s on the worksheet, right? Actually, in short order, creditors will become impressed with you because you’ve responsibly made the most of your budget. You are a responsible debtor who has figured out how your debts that you promised to repay will be repaid. Your budget worksheet can be refreshed regularly and closely communicated to creditors to adjust and improve repayment terms. Because your income is ‘pre-spent’ for a year or so, it will give creditors confidence you know what you’re doing, and that updates with increased repayments can be made too. Your budget worksheet plan is a tool that all the stakeholders can take comfort in knowing that the ‘fish on the end of the line’ isn’t going anywhere and the debts will be repaid.


When the Change Comes, From Within


Seriously think about the best part of all – when, to your heart and mind, comes an answer to your budget needs for your financial well-being. You’ll probably literally be taking a walk, talking to someone, eating dinner, or driving to work, etc., when all of a sudden, a certain realization will pop into your head, and you’ll say: “oh my gosh, we need to…”. That’s the special miracle and power of this simple private worksheet plan experience. You will look back at the first phase where you suffered through the anguish of realizing the mess your finances were in. Being patient with yourself and your spouse, you finally come to realize that, with certain adjustments, you need to whatever it is that you need to do. And, you become totally excited to make the changes that will enable you to get the peace of mind that you now will soon experience. And in due time, your budget worksheet will actually balance with a whole new set of goals, etc. 


Looking back, you may see that you decided to sell that big truck that you never thought you could part with, or give up your golf game, or whatever. Maybe it will have meant that you would sell the house you live in and downsize. The miracle part is to be remembered; you know that these changes came from within your heart and mind, and you will never, ever, look back. You forge forward and never look back. You will make the changes you wanted to make, from the heart. This is where peace of mind is restored, and financial well-being is achieved. Nobody told you what needed to be done. Nobody made these decisions for you. No, it came from within. What’s more powerful? 


Your Spouse is More Important Than You Are


Now, if you’re married, remember this is not just about you. In fact, your spouse is more important than you are. Get it? Do you realize that? If you don’t understand that yet, just accept it that way for the time being. This is a two-way street; it’s a life changing experience and it affects everyone, including the lives of your children. It is not about you, even though you might think it is. So, it is worth it to be incredibly patient. If you find yourself getting prideful or angry at all, you are in the wrong. Period. Regardless. Sorry, but if you’re causing any contention in your relationships, you are plain in the wrong – just say ‘sorry’ and get back to work. As you go through this, the sooner you get yourself out of the way, tone it down, the sooner you’re going to see real resolution. 


There is nothing wrong with stretching this out over a month or even two. It’s your life. It’s your spouse’s life. It will affect your children’s lives. You now have a tool, a plan of getting all this fixed. It takes time. It may be a big deal that will require some big sacrifices. So, as you go through this and your spouse is unclear about something, go back to the worksheet plan and ask your spouse what he or she thinks about it and what would they recommend. If a change in something is recommended, then put that change in the budget worksheet. Let it simmer a bit, and then ask yourselves if that is what you both want. If it isn’t what you both really want, then give it some more time; make another change or two. It’s okay. You may already know that if you really want to help your spouse change, then you just need to change yourself – so give it up. Be respectful. Remember, if you raise your voice and become angry, you’re not treating your spouse with due respect. Your spouse is literally more important than you are. Be really patient with yourself and with your spouse. There’s no race here.


You Lie, You’re Toast


Finally, your Tunabudget worksheet plan can start from an ugly and painful financial situation and change into solid financial well-being. Sometimes material changes need to be made. It can be done. So, be prepared for it. But the changes will be your own changes, to better serve your spouse and family, all this coming from within. That’s powerful. It can start out a bit messy and ugly as you experience a deficit situation, maybe an impossible situation. But, adjust the numbers on the worksheet and put in hypothetical situations that you want to happen. Tunabudget believes the worksheet plan tool is simple, and it is what’s missing from people’s lives right now. They don’t realize or they’ve forgotten that they have the power to make changes. The plan is to be used to make changes – it’s simple and free to use. It works. It is always in draft form. It is reviewed regularly. 


As for creditors and any needed modified repayment plans, realize that creditors don’t have the time or resources to chase after everyone to repay the monies they’re owed. So, what do you think they’ll say when they see someone who demonstrates that they actually really know what’s going on and how they’re going to repay their debts, and offer reasonable best effort repayment proposals? Most creditors will work with you if you can show them with documented support. They’ll believe you because you’re truly honest. If your plan is less than honest and transparent, you go the ‘liar route’, and you’re toast. Creditors can smell burned toast from afar so don’t blow your chance. Be completely honest with yourself, your spouse, and your creditors, and you’ll be fine. 

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