The One with a Budget

It’s just that time, you know?

We’ve made a big move, Joe has a new job, and the holidays are just around the corner. Joe and I have been money conscious since the beginning – we fully recognize that left unguarded, money stress could take over our lives and cause unnecessary strain on our marriage. We want to avoid that, so we save our pennies, pay attention to what Dave Ramsay says, and don’t take on debt. These are good things. But in the past year, we’ve gotten lazier about what we referred to as our budget. We used Mint.com to track our spending, so we were always aware of what was going into/out of our accounts, but it was all reactive, or after the fact. And slowly but surely, tiny amounts of frivolous spending creeped in, and of course we never spent money we didn’t have, but it still felt like we weren’t disciplined in our spending.

When one of my favorite bloggers released a book on the subject of money/spending/budgeting, I decided it was time to get serious about making our money work for us. So last Saturday night, Joe and I sat down and had our first family budget meeting. It took a long time, and wasn’t the most fun weekend activity, but it definitely gave us direction and a sense of peace. We used The Family Playbook from the same blogger family (check them out at Words of Williams) to jumpstart out budget meeting. We talked through our last year, what we were proud of and things to improve upon, and set some goals for the next year. Now that things are in perspective, I feel good about the direction we are headed. Here’s a few of our accomplishments from the past year/goals for the next:

Past Year

– Our emergency fund is complete for over four months of living expenses (6000 of which we’ve added in the last year).

– We paid off one of my student loans. It was a baby one, but it feels good, and was a way for us to start our debt snowball.

– We didn’t take on new debt. This is an important one – many people our age don’t consider this when getting shiny new credit cards in the mail (think Joey from friends – “I was pre-approved!”).

Next Year

Continue our debt snowball and knocking out some more loans.

– Start saving for retirement (this will happen in the spring once Boy’s Latin will start to match whatever we save).

– Build a better budget plan and stick to it (the second part of that will be the hardest).

– Start saving for our next vacation… I’m thinking Paris, Copenhagen, and Oslo for Christmas.

Baby steps, friends! We’re hoping to really build our savings muscles over the next year and make our money work for us, and not the other way around.

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