1 Charissa Quade CookWithAShoe.com Like many people, Charissa Quade was once a person who hated budgeting because it made her feel like a failure with money. She realized the opposite is true. Budgeting is a tool that allows people to become free of debt and begin their work-at-home dreams fresh. She s now a budgeting expert and writer who can teach you to love budgets for the peace and stability they bring your family and business. Caitlin: Hey, everybody! Welcome back to the Work-At-Home Summit. I m here with Charissa Quade, the owner at CookWithAShoe.com, and she is passionate about helping you transform your finances by living on a successful budget, so you can pay off debt, build savings, and reach your money dreams. Charissa paid off all of her debt in 2010 we re going to get into that today, for sure while paying cash for her husband s education and continues to live well on a budget. As a self-employed business owner with an irregular income, she has found that having a prioritized budget is the key to thriving financially regardless of the size of your income. Welcome, Charissa. So glad to have you. Charissa: Thank you, Caitlin. It s such an honor to be here with you, and I m just so excited to be able to talk about one of my favorite subjects. I just love talking about it, so I m excited to be here. Caitlin: Yeah. Thank you, Charissa. We re happy to have you. We know that budgeting is a huge part of working at home especially when you re first starting out. And, honestly, one of the biggest challenges people face when they first want to start working from home is can they afford it, and if so, how? Especially if their income is going to be pretty variable for a while. I m really excited to have you share your wisdom with us today on working with a variable income because you have a really great story yourself about budgeting and the whole paying off debt thing. So that s what we want to talk about first is tell us your story, and we ll start there. Charissa: Well, I started budgeting because I saw my parents budget. In college, I felt like that was a thing you should do, and so I decided to start a budget. But it was so stressful, and I always felt like I was failing with money. So that continued I would put it off as long as possible until I had this huge mess on my hands, and then I would start budgeting and just spend hours doing it. It was so stressful, almost had these panic attacks, like I said. Then I got married, and I still wanted to do a budget because I knew there was a key in budgeting. You could manage your money. But I was self-employed; I was the sole provider for my family. We had debt, and my husband was going to school. Plus, I had a variable income. Adding to the stress of budgeting, there was tons of stress of just life and bills and all of that, and it was just a really hard time, and trying to juggle the variable income was tough. But I got on a budget, and we worked to pay off our debt. And we were able to pay off our debt within two years of getting married. So that, I have to admit, really was like a life-changing point for me because after that point even though I had variable income, even though I was going into slow work period, which is my
2 business is cyclical there s so much less stress in my life, and there s so much more peace, so much more freedom. I started after paying off all our debt. I started to really see the power of a budget, that a budget wasn t what I thought it was just telling me how I was failing with money and how bad I was handling money and everything it wasn t that. It was actually a tool to get me to go where I want to go with my money. To reach the money dreams that I have, that I want to reach, and do it in a very methodical way. I started seeing the power of budgeting, and it just became such a freedom thing and a life transformation thing. So now I am way more excited about budgeting. I ve changed from being a budget-hater to loving budgets and talking about budgets and helping people create their own successful budget, so they can reach their own money dreams. Caitlin: Wow. It s good to hear that you made that transformation from thinking that budgeting was a way to remind you that you were failing with money. But you switched it s all that mindset shifting, where you decided it was going to be a tool to allow you to create freedom for yourself. That s huge for people that are watching to understand is that all the stuff you don t know how to do, all the stuff that scares you, doesn t mean that it s always going to scare you. It might just scare you because you don t know how to do it yet. So I guess my next question for you is, for somebody who doesn t have a budget currently, how do you start? How do you start a budget? Charissa: Well, I think that you need to, first, make the decision to start. And even though you might be scared of budgeting because budgeting scares a lot of people. You don t want to know where you re at financially. You re scared of all the numbers. You re scared of you know, it s pretty intimidating. But I teach people how to create a prioritized budget, and where I where we all say, okay, first of all, let s make sure we have enough money for the basics. And that s food, first of all. So I put food at the top, and then lights and housing and transportation. Those are my four first categories that I put down, and I just make it simple. What are you spending right now? And if you don t know what you re spending right now, it s easy to go on and print out last month s bank statement, and then highlight everything I spend at the grocery store, everything I spend on gas, and then you can put those in the different categories. Then the others once I have those four categories at the top, then the rest of them I prioritize in order of importance. So I say if you only have money for one more thing after the first four, what am I going to put next? And, then, if I only have room for one more thing after that, what do I put after that? So you make your way down list. And, then, super simple you get paid. You pay the first four things first. Then you go down, and as far as your check is going to go, you keep going down the list. You stop when your check ends, and then when you get another check coming in, then you start where you left off and you keep going. I ve found that to be it makes it simple. It makes it easy. You don t have to think, and you have a plan for where it is going or telling it where to go, and you know what you need to pay next. So I found that to be really helpful, especially when you re working from home and have a variable income. This has been the thing that changed my budgeting perspective with having my own business and has made it a lot more successful.
3 Caitlin: Awesome. So to relate to our audience more, let s talk about what you actually do from home. I should have asked you that at first, but I was just too excited to get into the whole budgeting stuff that I totally forgot. So let s talk about what you actually do from home. Charissa: Well, my primary job right now, I m a sign language interpreter in the Phoenix metro area, and I travel to different locations to see interpret for deaf patients or with other people. So anywhere that you could have an appointment, I could be there to interpret. So that s my primary job, but I also, again, I have an online business where I m teaching people about how to handle money, how to budget, how to pay off debt and all of that. So those are my two jobs that I m doing from home. Caitlin: Cool. So let s talk more about the variable income. How does it work when you work at home with the whole variable income thing? How can a budget work? Charissa: I think a budget works really well, especially with variable income. We don t know necessarily, month to month, how much we re going to make, but there are some keys that you can do. Again, setting it up as a prioritized budget, but then also, I think, if you can have a budget, you can get your basic budget down as low as possible. And especially when you re just starting out, and you re trying to keep more income more than your expenses, but if you can keep your basic household budget as low as possible, that increases your margin. And when you have margin, it does a couple things. First of all, it eliminates stress, which running your own business has its own challenges and difficulties and fair amount of stress, but having money stress on top of that makes it even harder to start your own business and to run that successfully. So it does reduce money stress, but then it also you know a base amount. So, for example, if my basic household expenses are $2,000 a month, then I know I need to make at least $2,000 with my business. And once I make $2,000, I know where all that money is going. It s all allocated in the first place with my prioritized budget, and then I can say, Okay. Well, this month, I made $2,500, and I have a plan for that extra money as well. So it kind of gives you a base amount on how much you actually need to bring in to just survive and pay all the bills, keep the lights on. And then anything else off of that, you can build your business and reach your money dreams. Caitlin: For sure. So I m thinking right now that there are some people out there who might be totally freaked out by this term we re using, variable income, and they might have juxtaposed it next to the term, not enough. So variable income doesn t necessarily mean not enough income, it just means that it changes. It can fluctuate. Sometimes it can mean that it keeps increasing. So my question for you is, what advice do you have for someone who may be allowing that word variable to keep them from taking the first step toward their dream of working at home. Do they have to quit their jobs and go into this full-time? Do they have to be a signlanguage interpreter? Do they have to sell all their possessions and live in a box? What kind of advice do you have for somebody who s just starting out and is maybe a little nervous about the idea of having variable income? Charissa: I would say, first, get on a budget, and see what your basic expense are. Then try and do your best when you re trying to build a business. Whatever you re trying to do, start
4 doing that on the nights and weekends like a side hustle. So you re actually earning income and, again, when you have that base amount of these are my basic expenses. This is everything you need to keep everything going, and keep everybody happy, pay everything on time. Then I would say, if you get close to that basic amount on the side hustle, just working on nights and weekends and extra time, then you can make the transition to quitting your day job, and you re not going to be leaping out into, you know, a big sea of water you re not sure if you re going to sink or swim, but you actually have the confidence and the data to show that you can make it with your new business. Then once you have that extra time, once you quit your day job, then you can continue to build up your new business so that it s more successful. But I think a variable income is actually a blessing because, and I ve seen this in my own business, your income directly correlates to how much work you put in. When you can hustle and when you can work smarter and when you can build that business, you can give yourself a raise way faster. Give yourself even higher a raise than you could working at your day job with the annual cost-of-living increase or your annual performance review. So I think you can increase your income along with doing a working from home, doing having a variable income. Caitlin: Wow. It s actually really funny that you talk about the cost-of-living increase and the annual raise because I just did some calculations to figure out what I was doing in my own workat-home journey when I made the switch from working in an office. I was making just over $2,000 a month when I made the switch myself to working freelance and building my full-time income as a freelancer. I did it gradually. First, I was doing two clients a month, and I was making around $500. It was definitely a side hustle. Then after about a year of doing that alongside going to school, I transitioned it to a more full-time income. And in a year s time, instead of getting a 2% raise, 3% raise I ve heard of people getting an 8% raise, and that was a big deal I increased my income by 65%, and it just blew my mind to have done that math and think, oh, my goodness, nobody would ever get that kind of raise in a real job. So it s so true. The more skills you add, the more time you put into improving your skills just because you don t understand quite how it works right now, so much can change in a year, and I was just reflecting back on how much has changed in the last three years, in the last seven years, just in the last year. But a lot of times we just get so focused on the right now, especially as it comes to budgeting and our current finances and maybe we have debt or something like that. It can trap us in this mindset that nothing else is possible for us. So I guess let s talk about that; let s talk about how that changed for you. Have you always had this super positive mindset about feeling that variable income was a blessing, or was there a time in your life that you remember that you maybe had a more negative, boxed-in mindset? And, if so, how did that change for you? Charissa: It definitely has had a shift in my mindset. The early years, when I was starting my career and when I got married and I had all those stressors, money was really tight, and it was hard to make ends meet. I had not built up my clientele as much as I do now, and just having the expenses of paying for my husband s education, having debt, all of that made it really difficult. And it was stressful, and as I paid off my debt and I increased my margin, then I was
5 able to start seeing where, if I worked more, or I contract with several different agencies as they rose their rates, I rose my personal rates. And I ve more than doubled my income not in a year like you have, that s an awesome job but over my career, I have definitely more than doubled my income just from working smarter, working more, contracting with more clients, you name it. So you can do it. And there is a lot of overwhelm, I think, especially when you re talking about money and finances and paying off debt and business. There s a lot of overwhelm, and I just say keep it simple. Keep it simple and start small and keep building from that. And I m a big fan of the emotional side of budgeting because it s not just about the numbers. It s about the emotions behind it the reasons we do budgeting, the reasons that we re managing our money, the reasons money stresses us out, all of that but, then, also seeing your progress, that you ve been keeping track of it. Because if we don t keep track of our progress, then it s so easy to forget and to not know. Like you were saying, you didn t realize how much of an increase you actually had with your new full-time business at home until we look back at it and say, wow, I ve really come a long way. I ve really made a lot of progress. And I think that emotional side does so much more to change your perspective, to make it not overwhelming, to keep it simple, and give yourself that pat on the back instead of like my experience. I only felt like budgeting was telling me how I was failing at the beginning. So that can totally change your mindset and just really give you the building blocks to move forward and to continue to reach your money dreams, build your business, and that you really see a you re not just running around in circles doing the same thing. You re actually making progress. Caitlin: Yeah. Absolutely, 100% agree, and where you said, Start small, that actually aligns 100% with this overlying theme that we have throughout the whole Work-At-Home Summit. And it s a theme within Work-At-Home School as well, that it starts with one skill. So sometimes, our mindsets can be warped by maybe looking at something, and you re like, oh, my God, I don t think I ll ever be able to pay cash for my husband s tuition or even my tuition. I can t even handle that. We see somebody s after, and you don t realize that you might be looking at somebody who s five or ten years ahead of you, and you forget that that person started at exactly where you were. Maybe even worse off, so to speak, if we re going by the metrics in terms of amount of debt or whatnot. So we can sometimes let ourselves get down in the dumps based on I mean, that even happens to me. It s been seven years since I started my work-at-home journey, but I still look at somebody who s three or four years ahead of me and sometimes feel like, oh, my gosh, I m never going to get there. But it s crazy, so you have to keep perspective, and look at the progress that you ve made. So maybe go back and look at like I recently looked at my very first ebook, and that was three years ago. It was like, oh, my goodness, like so much has changed just my writing skills and even just the cover of the book. I m like, I never would have published anything like that today, but that s just been three years since I did that. So just look back, never throwing any of your old stuff away. It s almost like you have a work-at-home scrapbook, maybe keep that and just know that that ripple effect s going to keep growing, as long as you keep investing in yourself. Well, Charissa, I m so glad that you were able to come on today, and you ve broken down budgeting and made it seem not-so-hard or terrible after all. Money is always one of the biggest
6 excuses; I ve found that people make that excuse to not get started working at home. They keep sticking their head in the sand, and they stick with their hated 9:00 to 5:00 job just because they want to have that steady paycheck that they feel might be secure, when reality is that the security comes from the skills that you have and your mindset and the effort that you put in. You really have a lot more control over income that way, and you ve proved that that s possible, and it s really not so bad after all. So those of you watching at home, Charissa showed us just how possible it is to work at home and still make ends meet. If you re interested in learning more from Charissa on how to budget, be sure to download her free Prioritized Budget worksheet. I ve got a link for that below this video. And if you love that freebie, which I know you will, then you ll love to know that as a Work-At-Home School instructor, Charissa s offering Budgeting Made Easy: Thriving on Any Income in the Curious Curriculum Package. It s the must-have guide for anyone getting started on their work-at-home journey. So get Charissa s guide and dozens of other essential resources to start living your dream today. Links for both the free budgeting worksheet and the Curious Package are below. We hope to see you inside. Charissa, thanks again for being here today. Charissa: Thank you so much, Caitlin, and all of the best to all of you guys watching. I just hope that this has broken down some of the barriers for you, so you can start your work-at-home job and be successful.