As I talked about the other day, I'm so thankful for the full time job I landed. Especially because now that M is home, his Army pay is drastically less than while he was gone (reserve pay is different than active duty pay) so our bank account would have taken a huge hit without it. To prepare us for having to pay these loans off soon, we've tightened up our laxed budget quite a bit. Before, as long as our balance stayed above a certain amount after paying bills, I didn't really have a set amount that we stuck to for things we bought. I used mint.com to make a budget but we never really payed attention to it. I blame that partly on doing our finances by myself while M was away. I took the easy route and now we have to pay for it. It's pretty gross how easy it is for "just a few dollars" to add up throughout the month without you noticing. I'm really sad that I didn't force myself to pay more attention because we could have a lot more in our bank account than we do. My parents taught me all about money, I've had a checkbook since I was a teenager, but I thought I didn't need a budget because we usually stayed above that bottom line I'd set.
A few months ago I talked about meal planning but I didn't really get into it until the middle of February. We don't always make what I planned for but each week we get better at it. I was grocery shopping every Saturday for the next week but recently I bought 3 weeks worth of groceries for the same amount I'd spend every week. And that was without any coupons! It's insane how much planning out what we need has helped me avoid buying random foods because we might need them.
I've also been wanting to try the envelope system since I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover but I was scared to start. We rely very heavily on our debit cards which became apparent when we had some fraud charges on our account and had to wait a long time for our replacement cards to show up. When I see a bunch of cash in my wallet I think it needs to be spent immediately which is obviously a problem. Growing up my parents always said "that cash is burning a hole in your pocket, isn't it?" Obviously if we used the envelope system, I'd have to get that urge in check.
So a few days ago, I researched the envelope system. There are many different versions but I decided to mix and match to find something that worked for us. We needed some help with categories to get started and then we added some of our own. We sat down separately with a list of categories and the amount of money we had left to "spend" on average after our bills were paid. I say on average because my pay is hourly and every week is different for me which makes it very hard to budget ahead of time. I took the lowest amount of hours it would work in a pay period and multiplied it by two since I get paid twice a month. That way, we would always have at least that amount to work with every month.
We compared our numbers together and came to a consensus on what we wanted to spend in each category. We bought a TV after I got paid the other day which took a big part of my check. I divided the rest of it up pretty equally between the categories besides groceries since I have those bought for the rest of the month. I had almost the right amounts in every category to get us to the next paycheck. Once I get that check, I will put the full amounts in each envelope.
I have a feeling it will take us a few months to get the hang of it but I can honestly say I'm excited about a budget for the first time ever! We paid off all our credit card debt a little while ago and that was so exciting! Now to build up soMe savings and pay off those loans. If things go well, I hope to be talking about this more in the future. Wish us luck!
How do you budget? What are you willing to splurge on, even when you're on a budget?