Personal finances have always been a struggle for me. There always seemed to be more month at the end of the money. Not because I never made enough money, but because I spent the money without knowing what I had spent it on. I simply lost track. There was a lot of pride and unwillingness to change which kept me from sitting down and writing out exactly where my money should be going. I always thought, “If I just spend less than I make, I’ll be fine.” I was wrong.
I decided 2018 was going to be the year where I finally started telling my money where to go instead of wondering where it went. I’m not sure exactly what changed in me. Nothing was pressing me to “finally get my money under control.” For some reason, it has stuck this time.
I have made this commitment before, but I never got beyond actually setting up the budget; not even paying the first bill from it. I bought software, read books, downloaded resources, and make public declarations. It just never seemed to work. Time and time again, this horse was led to the water but he wouldn’t drink.
I decided to use the resources and system by Joseph Sangl called “I Was Broke Now I’m Not.” Catchy, huh? I am still using the principles of Dave Ramsey (Baby Steps, debt snowball, etc…) I just like the skin on IWBNIN better than the Total Money Makeover skin. Mostly the same principles exist in both systems. You can download a monthly budget HERE to see what it looks like.
To be fair, I am only 1 month in to this new budget thing. I still have a lot of kinks to work out. There will, undoubtedly, be times when I get sick of it or I don’t want to do it anymore. It will likely come about June or July when it has become run of the mill for me and the newness wears off. I will likely say the same old stuff; “I’ve got this now. No need to do another budget.” It may not be exactly that, but it will be close.
This is where having accountability will come into play. Firstly, my wife is extremely skeptical of my new-found excitement for budgets. She is 100% justified in feeling that way. She has seen this before, but not with the levelheadedness and deep commitment this one has generated. I have others in my life who I check in with weekly about my budgeting processes so they can keep me toeing the line.
The hardest part of a budget is sticking to it. You have to make the commitment to stick to the budget. Committing to paying your bills is easy. If you don’t pay them, they turn your lights off or take your car. That part is simple. It is the other stuff like money for lunches or spending money limits which can ruin your budget. Carry cash. Keep the debit card at home. Quit using your credit card.
The second hardest part is actually making your first budget. I ended up with 42 line items in my personal budget. I will probably have closer to 50 for February’s as I discovered some things I need to budget for which I didn’t in January. Fleshing out what actually needs to be in there take time. It took me about 3 hours to figure them out. Now it only takes about 15-20 minutes of weekly maintenance and reconciliation to maintain. When I do February’s budget, it will take my wife and I about an hour to do all the data entry and get the numbers plugged in. Totally worth it.
The best part about having a budget is we don’t fight about the money. Well, fight is the wrong word. We have never really fought about the money. For sure there were tough conversations, but we never went all the way to fighting about it. It think it would be more accurate to say neither of us feel guilty for spending money and we don’t feel like we have to hide the fact we have spent money. It is in the budget. We know exactly how much we have and how much we have to spend in each area.
If you want a good starting point for getting your financial life in order, pick up The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
Your personal finances will be glad you did.