So we did it. We made it past the first month of living on our budget. The first week like with diets is always the easiest and the following weeks were a little harder.
I've been using the youneedabudget.com (YNAB) method and software. You can read all about it on their website. I hate to say that I chose a budget plan on great website design, but I did. They have a really great site, an easy to follow method, and software that really helps. We're still using the free trial of the software but I think we'll probably buy it since we've been able to stick with everything for a whole month. Another thing I really love about their company is that they give free webinars on budgeting and how to use the software to your best advantage. ( I promise I'm not getting anything from youneedabudget for this, I just have really been impressed with it!)
Getting personal a bit, Sheldon and I have never really lived on a budget. This worked out ok because Sheldon isn't much of a spender. He's the kind of person that can look at his bank account see how much money he has and not be tempted to spend it. He's also the kind of person that gets nervous if his account ever dips below $500 and can constantly keep a running total of how much money he has at all times in his account. I am the spender in our relationship, not only am I a spender but I hate thinking about money. I treat paying bills and looking at our accounts with disdain. If I want something and think we might have enough money to buy it, I buy it. I never know how much money we have in the account and before I merged assets with Sheldon I would be overdrawn all the time! I know those of you that are like Sheldon are probably disgusted with me right now, it's fair. I'm really bad with money.
So as I said in my New Year's goal post, if we're ever going to save up a nest egg I had to find a system that works for me before we would ever find anything that works for us and this one does. Sheldon and I make the budget together and I keep track of everything in the software. Having control of the software makes me more interested in the whole process and makes me stay on track and having big goals helps with my motivation.
A few things I have learned:
- Budgeting is hard but it is totally doable! Finding a system that works for you (and your spouse) is the most important thing.
- Being on a budget isn't the only lifestyle change that happens. We have had to change our entire lifestyle to keep within our budget. I could write a book about how our eating habits and home cleaning schedule has changed as well. We were generally lazy at home and now I can tell that by becoming disciplined in one area, we are becoming disciplined in many other areas of our life.
- I need to avoid spending traps like the plague. For me, this means Hobby Lobby, Target, and the Outlet Mall. I go to these places and I loose all sense of reality and over spend every single time. I'm the worst at letting overly helpful (read: works on commission) sales people talk me into buying needless stuff. If I do go to these places, I need to only take my budgeted amount of cash and take a list.
- Budgeting helps our communication. We have to communicate most of our purchases now, which we never really did before. We each have a small allowance every week that is our no questions asked fund (aka Sheldon's beer and cigar allowance and my nail polish allowance). Now if I want to buy something over my fun money allowance I either have to save up for it or we have to discuss it to see if it's something we as a couple want to budget for.
So there you have it... what I've learned so far. Sorry if all this budget talk is super boring!! It's really the only thing going on in my life right now. Once it becomes second nature I will be oh so happy! I hate having to put my focus on something that I don't enjoy especially when it takes time away from the things I DO enjoy.