Today is a really exciting day for me, friends. Well, exciting and also terrifying. After months – maybe even a year – of daydreaming about creating a print product that could help people take control of their finances, I finally decided to take action and turn my dream into a reality. I wrote the content, shared it with friends and did at least six rounds of edits. Two months later, it’s finally done, and now I get to share it with all of you!
But first, a little backstory…
The History of My Love of Print
I’ve been obsessed with print products for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I used to make my mom buy me these beautiful stationery packages, so I could send my penpals (remember those!?) letters on paper that matched the envelope. I also used up journal upon journal, squeezed my pen onto every last inch of a notebook before I was done with it and filled any blank piece of paper I could find with random thoughts, drawings, and dreams.
In elementary school, I loved drawing elaborate title pages for every class I took, so I could slip them in the front of my duo-tang (hello, 1995) and show off my skills. Then, when we got our first computer at home, I started doing layouts for the one-page newsletter I wrote and delivered to the neighbours on my street. And my favourite projects in high school were ones where I could compile a lengthy report into a duo-tang and put it in the order that made the most sense.
This passion followed me to college, where I studied communications. In the first two years of school, I studied audio production, video production, writing, public speaking and even did on-air radio – but my favourite class was desktop publishing. In fact, I majored in it. My favourite projects were print posters, newsletters, and small magazines, and my major project was a 150-page book of my friend’s mom’s wildlife photography (we had to touch-up hundreds of old slides for it).
I graduated from that program in 2007, then got a job with the Ministry of Education in BC, where all I did was lay out 300-800-page print courses and then eventually put them online. Over time, my skills with creating online courses grew, until I eventually became the online course creation expert on our team, which meant it didn’t make sense for me to work on print stuff anymore. I left that job in 2012 and have barely worked on any print projects since… until now.
The Inspiration for My First Print Product
My inspiration came directly from you. One of the most frequently asked questions I get from readers and friends in real life is, “What’s the best budgeting app to use?” I’ve downloaded and tested so many now that I can honestly say… I don’t like any of them. Let me be clear: there are some really neat tools out there! We live in an exciting time where creative (and number-loving) people can make their visions come to life with the click of a mouse and some code.
But personal finance is just that – personal – and so far, none of the budgeting apps I’ve used have met my personal needs.
Do they let you track your spending? Yes. Do they update your monthly budget, so you can see how much money you have left? Sure. Do they show you projections for how much money you could save over many years? Yea, some have that, too. And it’s cool to look at. (I can geek out over a good savings spreadsheet with projections!)
But none of them give you the space you need to really dig deep, analyze your spending, and see what you’re doing well or how you could do better. No app asks you what you’re happy to have spent money on, which financial decisions you’re most proud of, whether your goals have changed, and how you want to move forward in each new week and month.
A budgeting app can do some math for you, but it can’t ask how you’re feeling about the numbers; that’s why I created this program.
“OMG, I’ve never been mindful with my money, have I?” – Bridget Casey, Money After Graduation
My Mindful Budgeting Approach
You know my story. Over the past four years, I’ve been able to pay off $30,000 of debt, build up a $10,000 emergency fund, save for retirement, travel all over North America, and still cut down my spending so much that I’m now living on just 50% of my take home income. There was no budgeting app or secret formula that helped make it all happen.
All I did was make a habit of taking a more mindful approach to my personal finances – and it’s changed everything about the way I see numbers.
It took four years of writing this blog, however, for me to realize that I could turn my own mindful approach into templates that could help others. Or that I could build an entire program around the exact system that I use to tackle all of my financial goals.
I knew that I, personally, preferred to write things down so I could reflect on them, but I wasn’t sure that anyone else would want to do the same.
“I will definitely be using this, especially the weekly and monthly check-ins – those alone will change the way people manage their finances.” – Carrie Smith, Careful Cents
As the templates came to life, I started to fantasize about all the possible benefits people could get from using them – by knowing the benefits I get from using them – and I couldn’t help but add side-thoughts, and motivational tips and tricks to the content.
“It felt like we were having a conversation. It wasn’t judgmental or condescending. I just felt like we were talking about what I could do with my money.” – Wendy, Victoria, BC
My answer to your question about what the best budgeting app is has always been: none of them. But if you’re new to budgeting and are looking for a tool that can dig deeper than any app, so you can stop making impulse purchases, start making mindful decisions and move yourself in the direction you want your financial life to be going, this is it.
“I really enjoyed working on such a useful product. I’m excited to see it launch!” – Chrissy Spilchuk, Graphic Designer, Toronto, ON
The Mindful Budgeting Program
Mindful Budgeting consists of 2 PDF files filled with 30 pages of content, priced at $17 USD.
- The story of my relationship with money, so you know where I started and can see how it changed as I built these templates and check-ins into my routine
- 5 x weekly spending sheets with 3 questions to ask yourself at the end of each week
- 1 x monthly budget template
- 1 x monthly check-in sheet with 5 questions to ask yourself before you enter a new month
- Bonus: 1 x blank monthly calendar template so you can keep track of any important financial dates + have space to write your goals for the month
- My (very detailed) suggestions on how to use each of the templates, and
- The link to a closed Facebook group for people who are using the program (a safe space to talk about discoveries you’ve made and wins that need to be shared).
If you don’t have a printer or want to save paper, I can appreciate that – but don’t rule that out as the sole reason not to use the program. If you’d rather keep a journal, you can still open up the templates, review the check-in questions and write down your answers in your journal. Or if you want to get really creative, you could even start a personal finance blog and use the templates to guide some of your posts.
“Cait has created a tool that will not only help you create the perfect financial plan, she has done so in a way that makes you feel like she’s standing right next to you and cheering you along.” – Shannon, NYC
And finally, even if this isn’t the right product for you, I hope you’ll help me celebrate its launch! It took all my old skills, four years of personal budgeting experience, two months to piece it together and a team of friends to make it perfect. I had so much fun not only working on a print project again but imagining all the good things that could happen to people who used its content and templates.