The Never-ending Journey of Budgeting
With the new year comes many resolutions that cover a variety of topics. From weight loss to organization…to eating better or quitting bad habits; every where you look there are people who are determined to make their life better once and for all! My husband and I did not make resolutions this year, rather we shared what we would like to see happen in 2015. Our discussion included finding more time to truly relax, making an effort to be healthier (eating better and exercising more), trying to be present in our interactions with others (aka put down the electronics), and a lot about money.
Budgeting seems to be a never-ending mountain that we are climbing; there are some months where we do great and others where we completely botch our plan and then continue to botch it for a few months before we wake up and realize we are totally off course. It’s awful, and it seems to keep happening. With a new baby coming this year, a house (12hrs away) that just doesn’t want to sell, and our continued goal of eradicating our school debt…budgeting is more important than ever. We revised our budget last month and I am happy to report that we did quite well sticking to it. We had some big auto expenses come up this month already so we will see how we do for January, but I’m hopeful that we will continue right on track.
One thing that helped was when we took a good look at where all our money was going. Gasoline/travel took up a bug chunk of cash and by evaluating the places that we had to travel to each week (work, grocery shopping, church, etc), we were able to cut our gasoline spending almost in half. Where we live, most stores we shop at are at a 15-20 minute distance no matter which direction you take, so combining trips has really helped cut costs. Another thing is cutting out anything but the necessities; not a new idea to us but this time around, really stick to it. Before we buy anything, we are asking ourselves, “Where would this item fit into our budget? If it fits, is there enough money in that category for this item and other anticipated expenses for this month?” If the answer is ‘no’ to either, we put the item back for either purchasing another month or when we aren’t on such a tight budget.
The last change we made was a debt wall. My husband made a bulletin board graph that we are using to track our progress. We are both very visual and I would recommend this to anyone trying to pay off debt; there is nothing quite like seeing the progress on a daily basis. We also added a dry erase board for keeping track of daily purchases.
For this easy project, I took a large picture frame that we already owned and used some scrapbook paper for the four main categories. On ours we have FOOD, GAS, HOUSEHOLD, and BABY, along with three columns: Budget, Spent, Remaining. Since these are the sections that are consisted of multiple purchases, it has really helped to stay on track as we buy items throughout the month. I then added some framed Dave Ramsey quotes to help us encourage us to stay on track. So far, our debt wall has really helped me to stay focused on buying within our budget. Sometimes it can be hard to say no to friends or family who invite us to meet up for dinner etc., but we remind ourselves that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if we stay on track, we will be sure to see that light someday.
I know there are some people who are content with their debt; they are okay with the fact that they will forever be paying on something, whether a mortgage, school, car, or credit card debt, and that’s totally cool. However, my hubby and I do not fall into that category; we loathe our debts. Our dream is to someday live on half of our income and use the other half to help others who aren’t as fortunate as us. But as much as we hate our debt, we try to take it one day at a time and not let it get us down. If we do get off track, we just try again next month. We all mess up sometimes and there is no reason to make ourselves miserable when it happens. If it takes us the next ten years to become debt-free, so be it. Until then, it’s one bill at a time. Good luck with your 2015 budget!
What ways have you cut costs around the house? We would love to hear about whatever budgeting tips you have!