It has been about three months since Jake at I Heart Budgets shed blood, sweat, and tears to create a budget for my family. I’ve tried to make and follow a budget before, but always got sidetracked and gave up. We also spent money without much forethought, so budgeting doesn’t really work in that scenario. For almost two years, we were on a no spending moratorium to pay off our credit card debt, not really a budget, but it worked. Now that we don’t have the debt, we want to make sure our old spending habits don’t creep back into our lifestyle. While we aren’t perfect, we are much improved, and I’ll share some observations about our new life on a budget.
All Budgets Must Be Fluid
We’ve had to change a few things based on my work situation. We still plan to pay off student loans this year, but haven’t been able to do that yet, so we’ve added that payment. Our daughter’s full day kindergarten was subsidized by a grant, so that frees up some money. Plus, there are some expenses we didn’t think of at first, like school supplies my husband has to buy for his classroom. Yes, it is sad that teachers have to buy supplies, but that’s for another post. In years past I’d see that we were over in a category and just give up and go shopping.
It’s really a strange observation that I am very strict in some budget categories and not in others. I refuse to go over on groceries, but I don’t mind if we dip into the miscellaneous fund to go bowling. I think if I was so rigid that it stressed me out to spend money on something that provided value and enjoyment, I could really hate budgeting. If we were barely getting by it might be different, but I think having a little wiggle room makes it easier. Now I know we can adjust, and having a miscellaneous category works great unless you use that as an excuse to overspend.
Personal Money is a Must
I love that my husband and I get an allowance. We can spend it on whatever we want. I don’t have to feel guilty if I want a fountain soda or buy ice cream for our daughter. I take my allowance in cash at the first of the month. For some reason, having cash in my wallet makes me less likely to spent it, and I have ended up with some money left at the end of the month every time so far. When I used only my debit card, I don’t think I paid as much attention.
Making Friends with Credit Cards
Now that we don’t carry any balances, we can start using credit cards to our advantage. All of our monhtly household bills, groceries, and gas go on a rewards credit card. They are paid off monthly. If we don’t have money to pay off the balance, it doesn’t go on the card.
I’m very excited because I just found out that my student loan lender will be offering credit card payment options within the next few months. If there is not a fee, you can bet I’ll pay those suckers off with the credit card when we’re ready. That’s a ton of points!. I’m hoping our vacation this year will be completely paid for with credit card rewards. When you don’t have debt, you get choices. Some can actually put lots of money in your pocket or send you on a great trip.
Having monhtly budget meetings has been a great experience. Before, my husband and I kind of kept things to ourselves. We knew we were in debt, but never talked about it. It was the two ton elephant in the room. Now we have plans and goals, and actually communicate about money. We prefer experiences to things, and don’t enjoy shopping like we once thought we did. We went to the mall right after Christmas and, aside from a few returns, we didn’t buy anything. We used to fill up the car every time we went. We weren’t depriving ourselves. We just didn’t want anything. Spending to us is like getting food poisoning from your favorite food. After you’ve been wrecked by illness, that particular food just doesn’t seem very appealing anymore. Could we fall back into old habits? Possibly, but I think we’ll keep each other on track, and I have all of you guys watching my back as well.
If you are in debt or spend too much, sit down and make a budget or ask someone to help you if you can’t. Having a plan and actually following it has been a very positive change in our lives. I hope you can learn something from the reformed spendaholics and get yourself on a budget. All the cool kids are doing it!
How has your life changed from budgeting? Would selling I Luv Budgets t-shirts be a good side hustle?
If you want a different topic, go read my guest post about Rez Dog Ralph at Life by Pets!