The Mindful Budgeting Program

April 20, 2015

mindful-budgeting-header

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-program

Mindful Budgeting consists of 2 PDF files filled with 30 pages of content, priced at $17 USD.

What’s included:

  • 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).

buy-now-button

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.

Happy budgeting!

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods April 20, 2015 at 4:32 am

    Huge congrats, Cait! This sounds like a fantastic program! I think it’s wonderful you’ve taken what works well for you personally and made it into a product that others can benefit from too. How exciting! And, I love the concept of approaching one’s finances mindfully–it really is all about one’s own personal goals and experiences.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Thanks, friend! That’s exactly what the content feels like: my thoughts/my approach/my routines finally down on paper. I guess it’s *my* personal in personal finance, but written in a way that it could be used/adapted. :)

  • Leanne April 20, 2015 at 4:41 am

    This is so exciting Cait! It takes so much courage to get out of debt the way that you did but to launch this takes even more. I hope the launch goes well xx

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Thank you so much, Leanne! Appreciate your support, xo

  • C@thesingledollar April 20, 2015 at 5:13 am

    Congratulations! This sounds awesome and really helpful.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Thanks, C! :D

  • Cari April 20, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Hooray!! I’m purchasing! Congrats and THANK YOU so very much for inspiring me. Seriously, I wish I could give you a hug!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Sending you a virtual one, Cari! Thanks for your support!

  • Melissa April 20, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Cait, Congrats!! This seems like a great tool. I hope the launch goes well, and plan to try it out in the near future!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Thanks, Melissa! If you do, be sure to let me know how you like it. :)

  • Alyssa @ Generation YRA April 20, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Cait,

    Congratulations!! What an exciting journey to have all of your knowledge come to life with the goal to help others with Mindful Budgeting. I think you incorporate an incredibly vital element of how do you feel when you make certain purchases and reach certain financial goals. Wishing you a successful launch, I can’t wait to try it out myself! :)

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Thanks, Alyssa! Appreciate all your support. :)

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach April 20, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Nice job Cait! I hope it does really well!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Thanks, Tonya! Feedback has been extremely positive, so far. I can’t wait to hear from people after they’ve used it for a few months. :)

  • Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore April 20, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Awesome job Cait! It’s great that you want to share what you learned along the way so others can follow in your footsteps and change their financial lives for the better.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Thanks, Kayla!

  • Daniel @ SaveWithDan.ca April 20, 2015 at 8:04 am

    WOW, that’s great, Cait!
    Congratulations! Let us know how it’s doing and if I can help in any way!
    You just added some fuel to my project of releasing my own digital product! Thanks for being such an inspiration to me and so many people around!
    Keep up the good job!!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:30 am

      You absolutely should, Daniel! I honestly hadn’t thought about it before… but the more people who asked me about budgeting apps (especially around January/new year), the more I realized that I wanted to create a better solution. I really hope people can at least adopt some of it into their daily lives and experience the mindset shift it gave me. :)

  • Rob April 20, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Yes, Cait, congratulations from me as well on this exciting initiative of yours and I wish you much success.
    I’m sure that many out there in your readership will benefit very much from it.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Thank you so much, Rob! Appreciate your support.

  • charlottaway April 20, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Yay! Congrats Cait! This is so exciting, and I’m sure this resource will be life-changing for many.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Thanks, Carly! :)

  • Potato April 20, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Congrats Cait! Must feel so good to release it to the world!

    From the preview image, it looks like you’ve put a lot of work into the design and graphics. Have you considering offering a hardcopy edition in full glorious colour? There are likely offset printers local to you who can help you produce a print run (or if you need a suggestion check out Warren’s Waterless in Toronto — been a happy customer of theirs for a while now, and they can do stuff on uncoated stock so your customers can write on the templates).

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

      I actually had one of the friends who reviewed it tell me she was going to print it off – that’s a neat idea! I wouldn’t mind doing that for people and shipping it out. Maybe something I can think about in a couple months! I have a much bigger goal for 2016, though… :)

  • Kali @ XY Planning Network April 20, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Two thumbs up from me! I’ll be encouraging folks to come over and get started with their mindful money management right here :)

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:33 am

      Thanks, Kali! You’ve been such a huge part of my support system, these past few weeks. Don’t know what I’d do without ya!

  • Wendy April 20, 2015 at 9:25 am

    I’m so proud of you Cait! The name, the look, the actual product, everything about this mindful budgeting program is so YOU and so wonderful. xo

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Thank you so much, Wendy! (Also, everyone say hi to Wendy!) xo

  • Catherine April 20, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Huge congrats!! can’t wait to hear about the success of this program :)

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Thanks, Catherine! :D

  • Melanie @ Dear Debt April 20, 2015 at 10:18 am

    This is so exciting and perfect! You are such an inspiration, my friend. Congrats on the great work!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Thanks, Melanie! Virtual hug.

  • Marissa @Thirysixmonths April 20, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Love the idea, and the project! I’m a HUGE print junkie- (ask Sarah about my love for Moleskin in Naples) and can appreciate the art of writing things down.

    The program, and the package looks beautiful, and I know it’s going to be a HUGE SUCCESS.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Ahhh yes, I’m a bit of a Moleskine junkie myself, haha. Thank you, Marissa! :)

  • Abby Anfinson April 20, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Hi Cait! I just purchased this and I’m really excited to get started with it. You’re story and the resources you’ve provided on your blog over the years have really inspired me to be more mindful and proactive with my money — and I want to thank you for that. You’re my go-to source for all things budgeting and finances. Thanks for being a trusted and consistent leader in this area of life. Can’t wait to get started with Mindful Budgeting!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:40 am

      Abby, thank YOU for being one of the first people to sign-up and for leaving such a sweet and thoughtful comment. I’m so humbled right now, but also grateful that I’m able to share what I do/know/have learned with everyone here. I’m so excited to hear what you think of the templates, especially after you’ve used them for a few months. Please keep me posted! I’m always on FB, Twitter and email. :)

  • Our Next Life April 20, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    So great! Kudos to you. We admire that you made this happen and are offerring something so useful to the world. Happy to help spread the word.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:40 am

      Thanks, you two! I appreciate your support. :)

  • Jenn April 20, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Purchased! With cash :-p

    Excited for you!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Yay! That is awesome, Jenn, and thank you so much for your support! It means so much to me. :) PS, I think we are overdue for one more call post-vacation. Maybe we can chat in June? (I’m travelling a lot in May.)

      • Jenn April 22, 2015 at 6:08 pm

        June works for me. That will be an excellent wrap up.

  • Elizabeth April 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Congratulations!
    I’ve been reading your blog for months now and haven’t commented – but I had to say congratulations! What an exciting project! I also love love love print, and it looks gorgeous!

    Wishing you all the best!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Thank you so much, Elizabeth! It was so fun to piece together, and to see my little vision for each template come to life. :)

  • Adam @ AdamChudy.com April 20, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Congrats on your first product. I hope it does well and is the first of many.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Thanks, Adam!

  • David April 20, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Congrats Cait! I’ve been following your blog for a little while and am excited to have purchased the Mindful Budgeting Program!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Thanks for your support, David! :)

  • Fiona April 21, 2015 at 1:35 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now from start to …finish? I guess you’re not ever really done. I have about $6500 NZD of debt, down from $10500 NZD. However, I know I don’t have a great relationship with money and reading through your blog experiences has made me realise that. I’m looking forward to using your tools to start having a good relationship with money :)

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Congrats on paying down so much of your debt in the past few months, Fiona! You’re almost halfway there! And I hope the program is something that helps you change your relationship with money, going forward. Taking action and wiping out your debt is the first step, trust me. You’ll feel great when you make the final payment, and will no doubt use that energy to move forward and tackle more goals in the future. :)

  • Shannyn April 21, 2015 at 8:23 am

    I’m so excited you’re launching a product!! I hope it helps people, I’m a pen and paper kind of gal myself!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Thanks, Shannyn! :)

  • Jessie's Money April 21, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Congratulations on the launch! What an exciting time for you.

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks, Jessie! :)

  • Chela @SmashOdyssey April 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    This is awesome, congratulations! I can´t wait to check it out! You´re such an inspiration!

    • Cait Flanders April 21, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks, Chela! That’s sweet of you to say. :)

  • Meg April 22, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Congrats, Cait! This looks like a wonderful product – and you’ve clearly put a lot of work into it! I shall definitely mention it to people so they can check it out!

    • Cait Flanders April 22, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Thanks, Meg! I appreciate your support. :)

  • Cait Flanders April 22, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Thanks, Kristen! Early comments from the first users have made all the rounds of edits worth it. :)

  • Travis @enemyofdebt April 23, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I’m sorry I’m late to the party here….but this sounds great, Cait. I’m a big fan of being “mindful” with money as well (as you know), so I have no doubt that this will be extremely helpful to people who need help reigning in their finances!

    • Cait Flanders April 29, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      You’re not late… look at how late *I* am to replying to your comment! *hangs head in shame* haha. Appreciate the comment, friend. :)

  • Tiffany @ HappyThankfulHopeful April 23, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Congratulations Cait – sounds like a great program and a fantastic use of all your skills! Isn’t it mind-boggling how past experiences that seem to be distinct and unrelated come together to help you create something amazing that utilizes your unique talents/experiences?

    Looking forward to trying it out!

    • Cait Flanders April 29, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      You said it, Tiffany! All I think about now is… why the heck didn’t I do this sooner!? Better late than never, I suppose. :)

  • Even Steven April 24, 2015 at 11:38 am

    It looks great, I really like the idea of getting into the thick of it with PDF. I think we can all learn something from someone who paid off $30,000 in debt. Cheers to you, congrats!

    • Cait Flanders April 29, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks, Steven!

  • Dayle April 29, 2015 at 6:13 am

    This would be great in a nice little fancy bound notebook type thing… I love notebooks but not so much binders. I don’t know what the process would be for this, but I could totally see it for sale alongside all the other pretty notebooks and planners in Chapters!

    • Cait Flanders April 29, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      Don’t give away all my secrets, Dayle! There is something in the works. ;)

  • Cait Flanders April 29, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you, Kristen!

  • Mackenzie May 4, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Sorry I am late to the party Cait, but huge congratulations to you! I wish you continued success with your Mindful Budgeting program ! :)