Whoa. Where have I been?
A few things have caused me to put writing on my back burner, but I am happy to say it’s time to move forward. And with that said, I am ready to share with you a big change to my daily life. A BUDGET!
“What? You are just now making a budget at 27?” Yep. That’s right. Decided to wait on being a grown up before making my first budget…or more like life can sometimes take you by surprise and demand a budget. And our life definitely was screaming at us to make a budget.
So, how does someone who is numbers and planning illiterate start a budget? They use someone smarter and someone who is successful in both numbers and planning: my mom.
My mom has successfully managed a budget with five children and sprinted her way out of debt. But the most impressive part…she has stayed debt free since. But she had a little help, too. And his name is Dave Ramsey.
If you haven’t heard of him, I HIGHLY recommend taking a look at some of his financial advice. The craziest part is…it’s not some scary mathematical, words I don’t understand, rocket science.
Jack and I are currently on month three. So, by NO means are we experts. We are still working out the kinks. But here is the ‘jist’ of our budget.
1. $1,000 emergency fund
This freaked me out at first. Jack and I have never really kept up with our savings. And the idea of throwing together $1,000 as fast as we could into a savings account had me worried. We couldn’t go without that large chunk and where are we supposed to find that kind of money? It’s amazing what you realize you can go without when you start looking into where you spend your money. It took us a week and we didn’t miss a single cent. This gave me a boost.
2. Need vs. want
This is a big one and the step that took us the longest. We laid out EVERYTHING. What were we spending money on? What weren’t we spending money? What was necessary to live? Where were we overspending? And why? Hard questions were asked and there were so many numbers being thrown out. I remember being so exhausted that night and overwhelmed. We wrote out a simple budget of only the needs. It was here that it clicked for me…we were spending more on our wants than our needs.
This was a little tedious but extremely helpful. Before this Jack handled all our finances and I just spent money blindly. Now I knew when money came in, when it needed to go out and what was surplus. And if I forgot, because I have the worst memory of all time, it was all written down each month.
4. Going cash
For everything that wasn’t a bill, we switched to cash. This includes things like groceries, pets, clothes, eating out, etc. We decided on a weekly amount each category needed. On payday we took out the bi-weekly amount (since we get paid every two weeks). And each category has its own envelope. Yep, that’s right envelopes. Just like grandma does it. 😉
I am using this ‘envelope’ system, but I hope to upgrade to something a little cuter as soon as I can find a good DIY project for this. But this bright pink, plastic thing is a little sentimental to me. My husband bought it for $2 the day after that long night of exhaustion. This is how I knew he was committed to this and from that moment on we were in this together.
5. Sticking to it
I am not going to lie and say once we laid it out everything was smooth sailing. Our first month was rough. We had both scared ourselves to death to spend money. The envelopes weren’t at full capacity since we had just started. Grocery shopping made me nervous. I kept adding prices up on my calculator double checking it was within budget. I planned every meal so we didn’t have to go out to eat. My best advice to anyone trying this, don’t get discouraged because the first month is the hardest and most daunting. It really does get easier and easier as you go.
6. Debt snowball
We aren’t debt free just yet, but OH MAN…we have made some major dents. The first and second credit cards were paid off in about two months. Each time we could feel a little weight lifted from our shoulders. And we felt motivated to keep going. That is probably the best feeling. And now, the next one will just go quicker instead of snowballing out of control.
If someone told me to explain this experience both personally and using the Dave Ramsey plan I would say, humbling.
It forces you to reevaluate finances sure, but it also causes you to stop and reevaluate your heart. Money and finances have been some of the biggest arguments between Jack and I, when they really didn’t need to be. There are so many things in this world that we believe we need, but cutting back and deciding TOGETHER where our money goes has been extremely freeing. I highly recommend it! 🙂