Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Five Lessons Learned Through Budgeting

For the last two weeks, Alex has lived and breathed our budget---and it shows. We have BEAUTIFUL spreadsheets outlining each and every expense, how much we have coming in, how much we have going out, and how long it will take for us to have each debt paid off. I am amazed by the amount of detail and organization he has put into our budget.

I normally let him do his thing and then I ask questions afterwards. Since I am (USUALLY) pretty agreeable, I look at the pretty spreadsheet and say something like "looks great, I agree" and then don't follow it two weeks later when I buy something not on the budget that I THINK would be an easy adjustment on the spreadsheet. He gets frustrated by my lack of concern with our plan and I get frustrated with his lack of concern of what I consider to be important purchases.This time, we both knew things had to be different. (And yes, we are going through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University :))

So after chatting with Alex, here are some of the important lessons we have learned throughout the budgeting process.

1) It takes both people to make the budget. Alex enjoys using excel to make sense of it all, but we both need to be contributing to the conversation about what to budget and how much to put into each category. Fixed expenses are pretty easy, but when it comes to food/entertainment, clothing, and other non-necessities, we need to agree on our numbers.

2) In Dave Ramsey's lessons and the book "Complete Guide to Money," he highlights the differing personalities regarding money in a marriage. One is typically the "nerd" and the other is typically the "free spirit." We took the quiz and found that Alex scored higher on the nerd side, and I scored higher on the free spirit side. This means Alex can have his fun with the budget, but instead of being complacent with the whole process, I need to be engaged and a part of how we budget. I also found that because I handle most of the shopping for our family, I do have valuable (and realistic) input.

3) We waste money. I do not think we live lavishly and we work really hard to not live above our means. However; looking at how we currently spend, it's a little sad to see money not accounted for and wasted in the process.

4) Debt is not fun and paying it off is one of our top priorities. Current expenses and debt are the largest part of our budget.

5) Budgeting is the easy part. It can be pretty fun to put numbers where they need to go to make everything balance, but the execution of it is hard. We aren't learning any new concepts in this class, but we are learning how to implement them and how to stay accountable to our goals.

I know that included in the fun of debt and finances we will learn many more lessons. If you don't currently have a budget, I hope you are encouraged to sit down (with your spouse if you have one) and come up with a realistic plan. I also strongly encourage you to look into attending the Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University for help along the way. If you currently have a great budget in place and are living debt free, we admire you! If it wasn't for the large amount of people (at differing income levels!!) who have already accomplished this, we wouldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel like we do now.

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