This week’s installment of Money Monday talks about everyone’s favorite topic: budgeting! Let’s be real – budgeting kind of stinks. Who enjoys getting limits put on how they can spend their money? However, setting up and sticking to a budget is one of the most important things you can do in your marriage. It’s no secret that the majority of problems in marriages stem from financial disagreements. We are all about being proactive rather than reactive and thus budgeting is Priority #1. We have identified the three most important steps we followed to hammer out our budget, but however you do it simply getting it done is the most important thing. This system is based on Dave Ramsey’s envelopes, but we decided to do it electronically.
1) Identify your “needs”
Everyone has expenses that are going to be there no matter what. We started by writing down all of these expenses that are always going to be there. this step includes things like our tithe (God’s money comes out first and we get to use the rest), utilities, food, and mortgage payments. These things form the foundation of your budget because they are the things that you absolutely cannot do without. Be honest here – Starbucks goes in the next part!
2) Pick your “wants” realistically
It would be awesome if we could have a $10,000 shopping budget every month. I would love to be able to include a category for new tools every couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that just can’t happen. Here is where you have to be honest with yourself and decide which categories are necessary wants and which things are going to be left out. You have to really look hard at your goals and find the best combination of things that will get you there. For this step, we have categories for Entertainment, Restaurants, and a Personal Fund. We each are allotted a small amount of money each month that is ours to spend however we see fit – no questions asked. If I want to save mine up for six months and buy something big, I’m totally free to do whatever I want. We also set aside a Kingdom Fund to support people or organizations that are helping to spread God’s kingdom. Once you have all of your categories set, take your monthly income and divide it among your categories in order to fulfill the monthly requirements of each. Be sure to include money to work towards goals such as paying down student loans or setting up an emergency fund.
3) Track your progress
We love using Mint.com for our budgeting. We can load in all of our accounts and it will automatically bring in each transaction for us. I love logging in every morning and sorting everything out. I can assign each transaction to one of our categories and monitor how we are doing in real-time. However you do it, tracking the budget you created is vital. How can you know if you are any closer to your goals if you don’t keep up with your progress? Develop a system or use ours to be sure you know what is happening across your financial landscape.
Have fun creating your budget! We threw any leftovers at the end of the month towards our student loans and it eventually turned into a game. How much can you save this month in order to achieve your goals just a little bit faster?