Financial Peace, Week 2: A Budget

I’ve decided to take you along on our journey to financial peace. Tune in every (hopefully!) Sunday night as I reflect on the week’s lesson. 

I’m reminded again why a budget is important. It’s not there to track where the money went, it’s there to plan where the money goes. It’s a chance to sit down at the beginning of every month and decide where the money will go. It’s a chance to talk about money, at least once a month. It’s a chance to decide, as a couple, where to give and take from. A budget is a lot more than “saving money.” It’s actually knowing what you’re saving and where the rest is going.

We’ve been on a budget plenty of times. There was a wedding (that could have been a really nice car), a house, living in a new house, buying a car, and having a baby. So, we know a lot about being on a budget. Except, all of those times involved seeing where the money was going and vowing not to spend it on extra things. When we want to save money, the first thing to go is eating out. We don’t go to restaurants much so I mean fast food. Life gets pretty hectic and fast food is a lot easier than cooking a meal after a long day. When we’ve been on a budget, we haven’t actually planned where all of our pennies would go. Instead we practiced thoughtful spending. Meaning, out of chance we happened to have saved money! 

We’ve been lucky (I used this word wisely) that our savings plans have been successful. We’ve been lucky that we have been able to buy what we want. We have been lucky that our way of budgeting reaped great benefits. I take pride in saying that we paid for our wedding with real money. We didn’t put things on credit cards to not be paid off for months. (We did use credit cards for some things. We used the Internet on a lot of things!) Yes, our parent’s contributed, but we saved our money and bought ourselves a wedding!

Now here’s where the confusion begins with a budget. We knew where our money was going and we saved for a wedding. {Awesome!} We thought we were operating under a budget. No one had ever told us to budget where ALL the money was going. No one had ever told us to budget exactly money into savings! {Light bulb!} Before Maximus was born, we mimicked Dave Ramsey’s cash flow worksheet and included the line about savings. {Go us!} But…we were just starting out so we were guessing on what our budget would look like. But that’s ok, he tells you it will take a few months to get it figured out. So, we gave ourselves that wiggle room. And we never looked back. We didn’t sit down the next month and review it. We looked at what we had spent and continued to “save.” Life was looking good because we were saving money. Our budget appeared to be working! You get the drift, right? We didn’t really understand the concept of a BUDGET. We knew the general meaning of it, but we were giving ourselves too much wiggle room. That wiggle room is what has kept us in this tetter-totter motion for so long.

I’m excited to get the real budget up and going. That means tweaking what was created long ago. Here’s to using the budget the right way!

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Financial Peace, Week 2: A Budget

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