"experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." -randy pausch

Monday, November 9, 2009

the budget

we finally had to get serious about our budget.
i've always "claimed" there was a budget before,
but really, it was a flexible spending account.
meaning, if we came within 2 or 300 dollars of our goal, we could always just do better next month.
well, after two years of trying to do better next month we realized we were spending astronomical amounts of money on things that could be costing much less.
i had no idea where all of our money was going.
grad school is almost over, and there is only one more set of loan checks coming in january.
we're down to the skimpy minimum,
and i've never felt more financially secure.
yes, you heard me right.
i've never felt more financially secure.
after years of "budgeting" (or so i called it), we've finally created a budget that is working.
when i tell you what we're doing you're going to say, "no duh."
i know.
it's nothing fancy.
it's simple.
and it works.
10 Steps to Financial Freedom!
(just call me suzi orman, haha)
1. i get my calendar.
2. i take the total $$ we have for the month and subtract all of our regular bill payments.
3. i divide the $$ left into the number of weeks in the month (grrr to the 5 week months!).
4. i write the $$ amount we have for each week of the month at the beginning of the week (yes, it's usually the same number and yes, i write the same number down to remind me what we have. the "in your face" idea works for us.)
5. i save and sean saves every receipt from any purchase we make during the week (even the $1 i pay to park at the gateway discovery. every penny counts!)
6. i plan all of my meals for the entire week, but writing down the meal we will have on each day.
7. i make a shopping list.
8. i only buy what's on my list.
9. we don't eat out. we eat leftovers for lunch & sometimes one night of the week, depending on how many leftovers the meals i've made during the week can last.
10. if there's not enough money in the budget for the week, the expense waits until the following week.

is it always easy?
is it hard to say,
"we can't afford it this week?"
but are we tied down by spending money we don't have?
we're sticking to the budget, and it feels really great.
i came within 38 cents of our weekly budget this week.
i'm so proud:-)
i'm sure there will be an unexpected expense or bill, but we'll work it in, and we'll feel all the more smart.
and if not, we'll make do, but we'll be better off for our planning.
goddesses, let me tell you, not having to think about "what's for dinner" b/c it's already planned and everything is in your fridge for the ENTIRE WEEK is aMAZing.
go ahead,
try it.
i DARE you.


Sue said...

You are a prize among women, Em! And you guys will be so much better off and happier in the long run for budgeting like this.

Rock on.


PS. Plus, you are also actually paying attention to the counsel of church leaders. Provident living is more than just a phrase at your house!

Lisa said...


Emmy said...

Good for you! Make meal plans and sticking to your list really does save an amazing amount of money.
Eric has our budget down the penny, excel sheets and all. It really is nice to have a plan and not live recklessly.

Amy said...

I am thinking we probably share part of the same brain. Last Monday for FHE this is exactly what we did. And our system is similar to yours, though different, because we tried to save receipts and it didn't work very well for us. We are doing a weekly meal planning, weekly grocery shopping etc. But I have taken a set amount of money out for groceries for the whole month. I have it in cash. When I run out, we have to eat from our food storage. If it is cash, I can keep track of it a lot easier, and I don't overspend! I love it, especially when I spend less at the grocery store than my allotted weekly amount (I divided the monthly bill into four and have that much for each week). It is beautiful! Last week I was $1 under and so proud of myself! Good luck with your budget, I know it sounds silly, but I am so excited for you!

beck said...

you go girl! still working on the keeping part of our budget! I think its time I changed over to the cash system. Its the misc expenses that kill me. Even when you can afford it, not using and sticking to a budget breeds uncontrolled spending and that natural man impulse for immediate gratification. I am writing this with MASSIVE amounts of hypocrisy. So, its good to get in this habit now so you can save, save, save for the big things you want and for retirement when Sean is making a paycheck. I'm more diligently working on saving for Gavin now and retirement and its helping because I see those financial goals and they excite me. That's how saving for our 6 months of emergency reserve were and it feels good to have that now in case anything ever happened.

Tiff said...

you are so cute! my hubby and i have been talking about staring a budget--- thanks for getting my brain thinking! by the way I am probably the lamest cousin ever... but do you know what your having? did I miss the big announcment cause i was so crazy busy this summer!!! i can't remember? or are you not finding out?

Synergy Girl said...

We are HORRIBLE with our budget...we are still in that..."fix it next month" stage...we have all these hopes and dreams of paying things off, and having a hefty savings account...and don't do a thing about it....so, to your "NO DUH" comment...I think it is something that is SO HARD to learn, and I am super impressed with you!!!!