Yes, I said happy side of finances. It is achievable. I was THE most skeptical of all, but have recently discovered bill paying and saving can be easy and exciting.
Will and I married very young, we were 18 and 19 to be exact, and perhaps not exactly prepared for what was in store in life. We had some money saved up when we first married and it helped with setting up house and just to have in general. We didn’t have many bills and this made it easy to make sure everything was paid and on time for that matter.
Now fast forward to two children and a mortgage. Yikes! Now add-on car insurance, house insurance, hospital bills, much larger grocery bills. Let’s just say I didn’t have a clue! It was always just making that payment deadline here, this bill was being turned over for collections and so on. Do you see the snowball forming?
Now fast forward to 2011, our hardest financial year since we have been married. I have never been as stressed as I was last year. It was our second year in our new house, we have a rental house, 3 children and one on the way, Dylan was finishing up at Grace Academy (private school at 400 dollars a month, ouch!), and many, many other bills.
There were a few months that I wasn’t sure how we could fit in groceries, let alone a credit card bill. Thankfully God pulled us through and our marriage has never been stronger. In fact we never even fought over the finances, as most couples report, for us it was an Indiana Jones adventure of, “Ok. How are we gonna pull this one-off?” Now, do not get me wrong we had our stressful moments, who doesn’t? But I wouldn’t pick anyone else to deal with that craziness with. What I am trying to say is my husband is incredible even when I feel like the world is falling apart, he is so incredibly calm and assuring. Ok, enough gushing over my honey. 🙂
This very month, January 2012, we started to make a plan to take back our life and pitch the stress. It all started when I was looking at one of my favorite websites, Pinterest, and saw a pin about money envelopes. Now, I have seen this particular pin twice. I said how cool it was and never looked back. The second time I saw it, I decided to do a little more research. My research led me to Dave Ramsey’s website. Oh, what a glorious day! I found some great info and started to think, “We can do this” and I printed off the Monthly cash flow budget worksheet and Will and I got to work. At first it was a bit daunting writing down everything you have to pay and figuring out exactly how to execute your plan, but we were optimistic.
First we looked at what our total estimated monthly income is and wrote that down. First thing to come out every time, no matter what, is our tithe. So we wrote that total for the month, next was mortgage, groceries, so on and so forth. Then we divvied out of all these expenses which ones should be in the form of cash in an envelope. This is where it gets a bit tricky. You decided on the monthly amount, say for instance gasoline. We decided 100 dollars a month goes to gas, I know it doesn’t seem like much, but we don’t go too many places. Anyway, we then had to break that 100 dollars into a weekly number because we get paid weekly. So each week we get out 25 dollars and put it in the envelope. That envelope is ONLY for gas and nothing else, no matter what. This is where I get excited because I love to compartmentalize things. We have quite a few envelopes, so we had to figure out how much money we need each week from the bank. We even have it narrowed down to how many 20’s, 10’s, and 5’s. It works great.
The great thing about this type of budgeting is that every bit of your money is delegated to one thing each month. We know exactly how much is going to be spent and where. Now, there are other plans we have in motion to start our savings or emergency fund, whichever you prefer. It will also help us pay off that last credit card, yay!
We hope to eventually get to the point where we have extra money leftover after all the bills and savings to start putting into a vacation fund. And we will get there, it just takes time to take back your finances. My favorite part is no more robbing Peter to pay Paul. This means no more random trips to Target and getting sucked into the “sales”. : p
Ultimately, I have been stress free about our finances for two weeks straight. We are excited about getting rid of that nasty credit so we can focus on fun things and also have money for those unexpected emergencies. I highly suggest you check out Dave Ramsey’s website and start your financial freedom too.