Friday, January 14, 2011

Managing Money

Recently Ken and I sat down and figured out our budget for the new year. Ken has carefully budgeted our money ever since we got married (and I have carefully tried to make sure that we stay within our budget) but this is the first time that we actually worked on figuring out the budget together. It was actually quite fun. I really enjoyed the opportunities to discuss spending and saving priorities and things like that.

Both Ken and I were very blessed to be raised by parents who tried to avoid debt as much as possible. Both sets of parents also managed quite well to raise fairly large families on fairly small incomes. The examples that we were given have been invaluable to us. That doesn't mean we have done everything perfectly in managing our money but it sure was a great help!

   As we worked on this years budget we also discussed the spending we had done last year (Ken and I save all receipts and Ken carefully records everything on Quicken each month so we can know where our money is going.)  Some of the numbers were a little amazing to me. Things like- "We really spent that much on going out to eat last year?!" or "Yea! We are under budget on food again, even though our kids are eating more and costs are rising".  Looking at those numbers together was really neat for allowing us to discuss things and figure out how to make things work- together. It is also making me think "How can we spend even less in many different areas" I hope to share more about that on a regular basis soon.

   One thing I thought it might be helpful to note is that a budget (and working on it together) can be very helpful when there are things you and your spouse might not see eye to eye on. Ken and I have a couple of those. There are some things that I think we could spend less on but they are important to Ken (and vice versa) and there are somethings that I would like to spend more on but Ken doesn't see as being that important. So what happens? We discuss it and compromise. But at least we have come to a decision. If it isn't discussed then that can be a major source of conflict when one person just does what she/he pleases without having figured out what will really work best for the family.

At the end of 2010 at church I went through the Crown Money Map program. (It teaches very similar concepts as Dave Ramsey's method but the program is much cheaper to go through and I think they focus on Biblical teaching a little more.) I found it very fun and inspiring. It didn't change life drastically for us as we have budgeted/had a spending plan already but I still learned a lot and was truly inspired.   I just thought I would tell others about that resource in case you were looking for some help.

   One of the things from the program that really inspired me was on paying early on your mortgage or refinancing your home with a shorter (like 15 yr instead of 30 yr) mortgage. One of our friends just did this and the amount of interest they are going to save is around $50,000. That is so cool and we are hoping to work on this as well.

   Getting rid or our mortgage and paying off Ken's business is definitely something that I think would be very fun to see happen (the sooner the better!) and so I am trying to see if there are ways that I can spend a lot less in other areas. I am hoping to discuss each area in detail in the coming weeks. I plan on sharing ways we have saved money and also possibly ideas that I am looking at and I would love your advice and tips as well. Here are some of the topics that I hope to address:
  • Dining out
  • Mortgage
  • Entertainment
  • Gift Giving
  • Groceries
  • Toiletries
  • Paper Products
  • Garbage pick-up (I think I would like to get rid of this $16 a month bill- we shall see)
  • Clothing
  • Cleaners
  • Business Expenses
  • Gasoline/ Auto expenses
  • Travel
I am just curious? Do you have a budget/money plan in your home? Is it a joint project between the spouses or does just one take care of it?
Do you have an tips for saving in any of the mentioned topics? I would love to hear your thoughts!

This is linked to Frugal Friday

10 comments:

angie said...

I look forward to your series on these financial topics. I always am amazed at what you find good use for.
My husband will lose his job sometime this year, as his plant is gradually phasing out. So particularly this year, I am looking to trim from the budget wherever I can.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm excited to see what you post! We have a budget of sorts for our family...because my husband is self-employed we've had to be creative with the way we budget: instead of a set monthly amount for things we go by a percentage. So that when there is extra in the food category, we keep it there and roll it over to the next month, etc.

Sheila said...

I am generally the money person in our household, but my husband is very supportive and usually spends very little money himself. I do all the shopping and pay the bills so I feel like I am the one who spends everything, even though it's for all of us. I really have more of a spending plan than a budget, and in some areas I'm fairly loose as long as we have already paid everything else up front, including savings. I do have several yearly expenses that I accrue for each month (car tags for example). I don't have a specific dining, gas, or grocery budget, but know that I typically spend aroudn x number of dollars on that and try to plan for it. If something comes up, I'll spend less at the grocery store or will cut back on eating out, etc. This fairly loose budget works for us at this stage in our lives. We are debt free other than our mortgage, and both have good incomes. However, I do try to stay aware of things that we are buying that we could cut out if our sitation changed. For example, I bought small packages of chips for my kids this morning at the store. That's a treat basically for us, because I don't normally do that. I'm aware that if I needed to cut back, I would not only not buy the small bags, I would also eliminate or lower the number of big bags of chips I buy. That's a small example, but the way I try to think. I think it's very important to always keep in mind that the situation you are in could change at any point and to be as prepared as you can for those different circumstances. I'm looking forward to your posts on this topic!

Miriam said...

We do budget closely. We have a mortgage and a business debt but work together to keep costs down in all other areas. For me, the faster we can pay off the business, the faster we can pay off the house, and so I LOVE frugality. It makes me feel better knowing that even though I don't 'contribute' by earning money, my input and abilities do help our family toward our goals. Yay! This will be a fun series.

Mary Ann said...

I'm looking forward to your series too! We are already very frugal but I'm always on the lookout for more ideas on lowering our outgo.

We have done a written budget ever since we got married, which has been a good thing! For 6 years, I did all the budgeting and bill paying even though we made most financial decisions together. In the past few months, my husband has expressed interest in taking over handling the money and is beginning to take that off my plate, which is nice, although a big change!

Maria said...

I am looking forward to reading about your financial journey. We follow Dave Ramsey to the best of our ability, but Hubby does the grocery shopping and sometimes he gets carried away :) I do all the bill paying and money finagling....we do discuss money issues, but we are lucky to be blessed with two good incomes so there aren't many issues.

Nola said...

I look forward to seeing how you do things more. We do have a budget that works really well for us. We simply use an Excel spreadsheet on the computer. We have categories with different titles and a certain amount going into them each month. At the beginning of the month we type in how much money that category gets (a set amount) and then we see how much we have to spend. For example for groceries if we are going shopping I look on the spreadsheet and if it says I have $100 left then I know I can't spend more than that for all the remaining grocery trips for that month. We have each thing accounted for, even some categories where we save for many months to afford something. We have categories for things like van tires (we just got new ones, so a little a month goes into the spreadsheet under the title "new tires" and then hopefully it will all be there when we need new tires). We also have an emergency fund there too.

We really find this works well for us, even though we've tried other budgeting software like Quicken etc.

Our system I guess is a bit like the envelope system but the money is not in our house (well only a bit of cash) but all at the bank and then we take out what we need/pay with debit or sometimes the credit card and pay it off right away.

Amanda said...

We use mint.com, and it is SO easy! I can not only keep track of monthly expenses, but also look back at trends over the year and longer!

Esther said...

We just started using Mint.com. I love it. It's something that both Joshua and I can both keep track of from whatever computer of phone we are at. The best thing is that it is free. Doing things electronically definitely works for us.

Jackie said...

I am looking forward to this topic. I appreciate you sharing what you have so far. I am the one who pays the bills and pretty much handles all of the finances. I really want to start budgeting better. I will look into mint.com thanks to a couple of people's comments.

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