Saturday, August 13, 2011

The New Budget

There are always going to be those people who want everything.  Those people.  Never content with what they have.  Always wanting more... better... never enough.  They get what they think they want, but then they come to find out that in just a few months, they want the next best thing.  It's like losing weight- if you're disciplined enough to get to the "target" weight you want, most of the time once you're there it's still not enough.  Then, you gain weight and would give anything to be back to that "not low enough" number.  Ugh.  Those people.

I am that person.

and I hate it.

Maybe it's the {what I think is a} need to "fit in" and keep up with trends.  Maybe it's the way I cringe at thinking of what it used to be like when we were first married, in college, and po.  Maybe it's the way I feel when we come home from work, dog tired, thinking, "We work so hard- we deserve to buy {insert item that costs money here}".  Whatever it is, I wish it would just go away.
But, it won't, ever.  I think it has gotten especially bad since Daniel and I joined the Big Kid's Club of careers post-college degree and have expendable income that we had never before experienced as a couple.  Do not read this wrong- I am not bragging about our income or even saying we are rollin' in the dough.  All I'm saying is that our income is {supposed to be} more than our expenses, which didn't start until last year.  A blessing, only from the Lord's hands we know, but it has brought on some definite responsibility and hardships of learning how to be godly with our money.

Godly.  With your money.  Creeeeeeeeeepppy.

No, not at all.  What we have is not based on the success of our own doing whatsoever, but the Lord's provision and the gifts he's developed in us to use in our workplaces.  Everything we have stems down to the blessings we receive through Him.  When I say "blessings", I don't just mean the good things, the things that make us happy like family and friends, worldly things like financial stability, the house and cars.  While those are definite blessings, we consider even the struggles blessings.  We know and hold fast to the relationship we have with him and are thankful he teaches us just like a Dad teaches his children.  By going through struggles, I know the Lord is actively parenting us because he loves us, and that. feels. amazing.

And, well, we're in a "teaching" time of our lives.

Daniel is a pro at so many things- but numbers are a definite forte of his.  He has all of these spreadsheets that I don't want to try to understand that detail out our budget.  Last week, I wrote about how we are planning prayerfully and financially for a baby (that is neither conceived or trying to be conceived) and our budget is a big factor in this.  We realized if we didn't change something, it would be a long time before we could afford a child (or two or three).

We don't think we have to be at a "magical" number financially to start a family.  We know that if it is God's will for us to have a child, he will provide for our needs {read:  NEEDS, not necessarily all desires}; however, we believe that living off of one income and me taking on the role of a stay-at-home momma is the best situation for our family.  In order to do that, we have to prepare- and eliminate some debt.

The D-word.

I get it, debt is debt.  Something inside, though, makes me think differently of car or student loans and credit debt that exists because we bought things we didn't have money for.  We are not in credit debt whatsoever- just the usual- student and car loans.  School is school, so I don't care about those.  We might be paying until we are 50, but we will survive.  We have car payments and that's stressful with a baby on the way {which their isn't} and one income potentially disappearing {which isn't this year}.

SO, Daniel worked up some spreadsheets to get us more financially on track and is leading us to be more godly in our spending.  While we already had a budget in place, we weren't fully aware of what we were spending because we didn't communicate about our spending.  The new plan just makes us more aware and careful.  With our new plan, we will be able to pay off both cars by this time next year and will only be paying student loans in terms of debt.  Yahoo!  Here are some things we did to our budget to make this happen:
  • Cut Entertainment spending by half.  We had a pretty ridiculous amount in their anyway but were somehow still going over budget time and time again.  We still plan enough each week to have one outing.  If we want dinner and a movie, it's going to have to be with a coupon or fast-food and no popcorn.  Big deal.  It's like laying under a slurpie machine full of butter with your mouth wide open anyway.  
  • Create a "Debt Elimination" category in our budget that is just as important as all the other categories:  mortgage, insurances (house, car, health, life), gas for the cars, utilities, groceries, entertainment, gifts, clothing, housing needs (cleaning, etc), pet items, savings (fixed amount goes in every month, but we also doubled this number in the new plan), and retirement.  With our Debt Elimination category, we put specific money away each month and use it to pay more that what we need on payments- in our case, our cars (they have the highest interest rates compared to student loans).  I think we are paying double right now and hope to increase that early next year.
  • Keep a notebook in the car to write down all spending and what category it falls in to.  This way we know what we've spent at the end of the week without having to go through 500 receipts.
  • Keep to the budget.  If we've spent our entertainment budget, we will just have to stay home.  If we are out of gift money, we will have to have cheaper groceries the next week.  It's kind of like the money-in-envelopes theory, but on paper because I hate cash and Daniel thinks I will lose it... which I will.  No money in the envelope means... no money.
  • Over-budget for things while still being reasonable.  Daniel over-budgets for our utilities, groceries, and gas so that if an unexpected gift arises, we have a little cushion.  We've always done this and I almost never spend up to budget and it works out great for us
What does this mean for me?
  • Less home projects.  Booo!  Here's the deal-teaching leaves me zeroooo motivation to do anything- even blogging (which I why I haven't since Monday).  Why?  This Thursday, for example- 14 hour work day.  7a-9p, thanks to Parent night (not complaining- I love meeting parents, but it's a long day).  I don't want to think of it as less projects, just cheaper ones =)
  • Less thrifting.  I think I am addicted to the high of getting something for nothing.  Really.  Every trip to a thrift store is a scavenger hunt.  What can I find and how cheap will it be?  How ugly is this dress and how can I make it into something fabulous?  No more stops, baby. 
  • More cooking, less eating out.  I don't mind this one, I just have to be more organized.
I don't think we did a whole lot to our budget, we just cut some here, double some here, and are becoming more aware and intentional with our spending- basically being more responsible with the gifts God is giving us.  It's been awesome to see how the Lord is changing the attitude I find in the first paragraph in myself.  I feel like he's definitely teaching me that sometimes not having things is a blessing, that I have abundantly more than I need, and I can spend my time more wisely instead of constantly "doing" something required cash flow.

What do you do to save money?  Is it worth it?


    1. My husband and I follow Dave Ramsey's plan. He is a Christian financial guru. We also coupon. It has turned into a sport and can replace the thift shopping addiction. I recommend following krazy coupon lady blog. We are saving for adopting from Taiwan. Every little bit has helped. These tricks have been the most helpful.
      Elizabeth Clements


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