Family Finance Is 'Real-Life' Finance

Ellie Kay, who carries the trademark as "America's Family Financial  Expert," earned that moniker through the success of her first book, which among other things showed readers how to reduce their expenses by saving 50 to 85 percent on grocery bills.  The former broker says that the really amazing thing about developing a household budget is that most people think it will "just work out."

In her most recent book, "A Woman's Guide to Family Finance," Kay combines her professional experience with her real-world know-how as she talks to wives about how they can partner with their husbands in contributing significantly to their family's finances.

"I don't think women always understand that they can make the difference between sinking or floating in their [family] finances," she says.  "And it's not just the stereotype of going to the mall and shopping till you drop and that's how a woman can contribute either positively or negatively – by no means is it that."

Instead, she says, "A Woman's Guide" empowers women to understand "what an incredible contribution they have."

"There are no easy answers [to building a secure financial future]," she says.  "The only thing that really works is to spend less and save more."  But she acknowledges that many people get burned out with traditional budgeting techniques and give up on being better stewards of God's blessings.  "Life is too short for that," she says.

That's why Kay has taken a fresh approach in this latest book, with offerings such as her simple "$50,000 Money Pyramid" model that allows for fun, three kinds of savings (long-term, retirement, and short-term), and expenses.  That approach, she explains, is modeled after the short-lived 1980s TV game show “The $50,000 Pyramid.

"[My model] has three general areas of budgeting rather than the eight to ten very specific categories that can become so restrictive that all you feel like you're doing is just watching every single penny – and you can get burned out because of that," she says.  "So we've brought kind of a fresh approach to budgeting that's still a biblical model, but one that may be a little bit easier for families that have never budgeted before."

The book also helps individuals identify their "money personality" so they can guard against bad spending habits.  "We talk about personality types so that you can understand if you are one of these 'born spender' personality types or one of the 'born savers' – and what if you marry someone who's different," the author says.  "We talk about how all those dynamics fit in so you can understand why your family's finances are the way they are, and how you can take steps to make it a little bit more healthy if it's not healthy already."