4/20/09

Budgeting: A Homemaking Skill


Budgeting:  The mere mention of this word gives me heart palpitations and cold sweats.  Whenever my husband asks me to come to the office to review the budget I start thinking of all my excuses.  "But I needed that!"  "That was a one time purchase that will last us a long time... "  "I didn't have TIME to make lunches, the kids were bonkers in the car and McDonalds drive thru laid tack strips in front of my car and I had to stop somewhere!"  The truth is, when it comes to busting the budget, I'm the main offender.

Here are a few tips on Budgets:
  • Warning: I'm a preach'n here: Pay your tithing FIRST.  This one is top on my list.  No matter how destitute you are, 10% is fair enough for me.  10% on no money is fair, just like it is on a million dollars.  I have found if I pay my tithing, the rest falls into place... blessings seem to make up for what money I'm lacking.  I could write a whole weeks worth of posts on the Miracles of tithing.
  • Stay away from Debt.  If you avoid debt, you'll be able to right the sinking ship you're in.  Avoid it like the plague... or like bad chocolate at Valentines Day... it's not worth the stress  or the empty calories that bring those battleship hips.  Just steer clear.

  • Make a Budget.  Stop giving excuses.  Just sit down and write up all of your fixed expenses and all of the expenses that you can adjust.  Know what you take in and don't spend more than that.  
  • Buy a How To Book: If step one left you with heart palpitations and cold sweats, you may want to purchase or check out a book about budgeting and finance.  My 2 recommendations are Dave Ramsey's: Total Money Makeover and Bonnie McCullough's Household Budget Book.  These books are available at my new Pretty Organized Shop along with other books that have kicked my rear in gear and given me super powers.
  • Build a money reserve.  Once you get a handle on your spending start saving for a rainy day... or an ice-storm (we'll talk about that in next weeks post). 
  • Obtain adequate insurance.  This one is important.  Health insurance, Life insurance, and Auto Insurance help keep your financial ship afloat when the waters get tough.  One bad brush with misfortune can lead to years or even a lifetime of financial disaster.
So, do you feel liberated by a budget or bound by one?
 I think it's a matter of attitude.  Although I hate that I have to constantly keep myself in check and often fantasize that somewhere in the world is a homemaker who can go out, buy what she needs, AND wants, AND still has money left over for savings and that trip to Hawaii... and just maybe someday that will be me, I'm satisfied with knowing I've got my priorities in order.  When it comes right down to it, I'd rather pay for my kids college education than have fancy nails, and I'd rather have the means to help a neighbor or a family member in a time of need than make payments on a fancy car.  (Someday I'll do that fancy car post... when I've decided that there are enough of you who will laugh with me and not at me.)

Repeat after me: Budgeting is my friend... budgeting is liberating... budgeting is fun (pushing it aren't I.  Even I gag on that last line).

Hey, since ya'll are master buget'rs why don't you join my friend Wendy at the Shabby Nest for her Frugal Friday party?  Get your frugal decorating posts ready... she's gonna beautify your house on a penny with this party! 

So what are your budgeting tips?  How do you trim the fat on YOUR monthly expenses and steer clear of debt?


12 comments:

Jenelle said...

Please go ahead with your fancy car post! My husband and I just took the financially responsible route and avoided the nice, new, HHR I was drooling over. I would love to hear that I'm not the only one!

Wendy @ The Shabby Nest said...

Thanks for the shout out!! You rock!

Melissa said...

www.daveramsey.com This guys is an awesome read if you are trying to get on the budgeting bandwagon!!!

Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam said...

And this is where I could take over you comment section and write my own little post since you know I LOVE This topic. No bad heart palpitations here, except the great kind that get my blood going from a topic that I love. Just knowing the freedom that you experience from living within your means, or honestly, under your means is what makes it worth it. You're right. It becomes an attitude, and at some point you don't even have to "budget" anymore because it becomes a way of life.

Bobbie said...

I had a HARD time with a budget, I mean I have a HARD time.

SO much so that my husband has completely taken over all money in the house and I get an allowance.

Other people laugh at me, but this is the ONLY way I have found to avoid spending wildly, and to use the money intentionally.

Cottagecheap said...

The smartest attitude change I got from Dave Ramsey (and there were many) was "a budget doesn't tell you what to do with your money it is how YOU tell YOUR MONEy what to do" Love it...and have to remind myself sometimes.
Don't forget the townhall (dave ramsey) is this week and FREE to everyone...

ilovemy5kids said...

Even if a person is not a Christian, giving (or tithing) causes so many rewards. Having a giving heart causes a thrill in your budget that is just unexplainable.

Our biggest budget breaker is menu planning - we have to have a menu for the week!

Vivienne said...

I have a bunch of eating machines here, so smart grocery shopping is key for us.

I have a budget for groceries, but I pair coupons with sales, stock up when things are on sale or clearance, and I have a close, personal relationship with my FoodSavr vacuum sealer.

The difference between my budget and what I actually spent gets applied elsewhere if needed, or put into savings. (But it's usually needed somewhere else.) :-)

Our Lives said...

You may also want to check out Mary Hunt's Debt Proof Living book. I love her formula it is simple and to the point - 10-10-80. Sounds like a long distance phone #, doesn't it? :) We are working our B.u.d.g.e.t through this book and her wit makes it a fun book to read. We are in a very tight budget right now so that we could have options soon.

Amy said...

I'm a huge Ramsey fan, and working through his Total Money Makeover plan has been one of the best things my husband and I have ever done (next to the kiddos, of course). :) I think the cash envelope system is key. I know folks will defend the rewards they get with credit cards, but for years we would put everything on the credit card and pay it off at the end of the month. We thought as long as we were paying it off each month that we were "smart" with money. The problem is that credit cards make it easy to overspend. People spend on average 12-18% more with plastic. For us, it was more like 30%. And I absolutely agree about tithing. Before we started the TMMO, we made a commitment that our tithe would be the number one item on our budget. I have been absolutely amazed at how much further our money has stretched since becoming faithful tithers. I think budgets can be very liberating. When you and your spouse can be on the same page about money and stick to it, it eliminates arguing about money, or at least greatly reduces the arguments.

Anonymous said...

you are right on with this post! A budget is essential to manage your money . People usually do not like budgets because it forces us to be honest about how much money we have and how we choose to spend it. It takes self discipline ,sacrifice,delayed gratification and a daily choice to be content with what we have. It all belongs to God, giving our tithe should be the easy part,it is how we spend the other 90% !

Jen R. said...

The best (and hardest)thing we ever did was set up a Christmas Account. We did it ourselves, through our Quicken program (you can create a "savings goal" from the main account). Each January we decide how much we will spend on each person on our Christmas list (and add a little for the misc. gifts that pop up). I divided that # by 10 and "have" to save that amount each month. By October 31st of each year we have ALL of our Christmas money...pull it out in 1 lump sum and pay cash for Christmas! It is "painful" each month, but such a relief come October:) This is our 3rd year doing it, and so worth it (and actually added in our 2 January birthdays)!

 
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