Crunching the Number$: Our Family Budget

As a large family (and one with a finance guy) a budget it critical. I giggled a bit as I typed that because as with most couples there is a spender and a saver. With us, it happens to be the finance guy who is the spender. Ironic right? Don’t get me wrong there are things on my wish list and I like to buy things too I just hold back more often than he does. We all have our vices. If I’m driving somewhere I have no problem not stopping at gas stations for snacks, etc. even when I’m hungry whereas he will stop for drinks, etc. I on the other hand spend money on stuff for the kids. They are fun to shop for!

The only way to mitigate a financial disaster is being on the same page and both USING the budget. Both of those are equally important. Why? Even if you are both on the same page and agree you need to do something different with your money/spending/earning you both have to actually have a plan and follow it. Also, if you aren’t both actually in agreement on what to do or how to do it you’ll have problems and we all know money problems can wreak havoc on a relationship.

Step 1: Talk, talk and talk some more. What are you both willing to do? Are you willing to give up credit cards? Are you ready to actually look at your finances? Ready to look at and accept the amount of debt you have? Are you willing to move to a cash budget? Are you willing to take the time to create a budget and adjust it each month? Are you willing to USE a budget? Are you willing to discuss spending regularly? These are are all very important pieces and can’t be done quickly. Communication is key. For us we talked about needing to do something for months before we were able to actually make a move and DO something different.

Step 2: Create a budget. After a few years we now have a process that works for us. We have a budget in a spreadsheet format that we discuss each month. (We use something similar to the Dave Ramsey philosophy) We take a look at the calendar to plan for expenses such as birthdays, parties, holidays, special meals, trips, car maintenance, etc. At this time I also put together the shopping list for the month so we have a good idea of how much we need for groceries, etc. This takes time but is a big help for us to know what we need to adjust for that month. We have learned the hard way that if we don’t adjust the budget as needed we won’t follow it. It needs to be reasonable. We start by figuring out the bills that need to be paid such as car payments, house payments, utilities, etc. After that we go through needs/wants. Our categories are not what others may use but they work for us. Grocery (food), Target (Toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothes, etc.) Gas (fuel for auto and lawn care), Eating Out (restaurants, snacks, coffee), Car Repair/Maintenance (oil changes, filters, etc),  Misc. (Birthdays, etc.) These are all categories that have an envelope with cash in them. It’s much more painful to hand over cold hard cash than zip a debit card through a machine. I also feel I pay more attention to the amount I spend when I use cash vs. card.

Step 3: USE IT! The first few months you may be excited about the change or maybe are still needing encouragement….regardless, you need to keep at it. It takes time to get used to it and sometimes you’ll slip up. We are all human and prone to make mistakes. The budget honeymoon phase may wear off and you accidentally use your debit card. It’s okay. It’s just a matter of getting back to it. As I said before, it takes constant communication. Talk with one another about what is challenging and discuss how to mitigate it. For example my husband really struggled with spending money on lunches during the workday. We talked about it and decided bringing lunch would help. He tried brining soups, etc but he still bought afternoon snacks. We talked again and then I started packing lunches for him including snacks and he stopped spending money on eating out and vending machine snacks. Little things like that can make a big difference.

It’s more work to stay within the bounds of the budget but feels good to pay off debt. Slowly, but surely the debt does get paid off and that my friends feels great!

I think my favorite part of our budget and planning is that we are teaching our children financial literacy. We are transparent with our children about how much things cost whether it’s college tuition, clothes, food or trips. It’s not that we want them to ever feel guilty but rather we want them to realize money doesn’t grow on trees it must be earned and that we need to be prudent with how we utilize it. We talk with them about spending, saving and donating money.

Happy budgeting 🙂

 

 

 

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Things I used to do…

This morning while I was getting ready… (you know, putting my contact in while standing on one leg because the other leg is propping open a drawer of brushes and such which the 10 month old is playing in. If I move my leg he’d most certainly shut his little chubby fingers in the drawer). He decided to venture into another drawer and discovered my stash of fingernail polish which got me thinking. (After I put them all away of course) Painting my nails was something I used to do. Now they are ridiculously short and never painted unless it’s an event which involves a formal invitation.

Things I did BK (before kids)…in no particular order

  • Paint my nails
  • Fuss with my hair
  • Read for enjoyment ( I read but not very often and never finish a book)
  • Shower with out peeking out every few seconds like it’s a race
  • Sleep alone with my hubby (It’s inevitable that one of them will come crawl into our bed at night)
  • Sleep 8 hours
  • Go to work without baby spit up, goobers or other ‘token of appreciation’ I recieve from my babies
  • Wear a bikini proudly (not that ALL of my stretch marks are strips of honor I have earned 5 times over)
  • Train for the Tri’s I do every season (Yeah, I am an idiot not an athlete….pushing strollers, pulling the bike trailer…not real training)
  • Treat myself to mani’s and pedi’s
  • Get my hair cut regularly (scheduling such things is next to impossible…just too crazy for me I gave up so yes, my hair is getting long)
  • Buy salon products
  • Order food for myself when eating out (Now I just eat what the kids don’t finish…)
  • Carry a small purse
  • Watch TV/Movies
  • Date nights with my hubby
  • Enjoy shopping (I avoid the mall at all costs now)
  • spend $ on myself (I would much rather see the kids enjoy things or provide them with something they need than buy something I want)

It’s not to say that I will never do these things again. I will some day. Don’t get me wrong I am not complaining. I love being a Mommy and wouldn’t trade it for the world. They are little now and when they are older I’m sure I’ll do some of these things again. Who knows what the future holds…For now I’ll just laugh at the things I did when I had more time to myself and enjoy the giggles, grins and silly times with my 5 crazy kiddos.

What is on your list of things you did BK? 🙂

My Life at 100mp

While talking with a few friends recently the statement: “There is no grass growing under your feet” was directed at me. I laughed and said, “No.” I really didn’t think much of it at the time but as I was driving home I pondered how fast-pasted my life really is. Why it is that way and how in the world I keep up with the break-neck pace.

My husband and I have ALWAYS lived our lives (or at least our life together) at 100mph. We seemed to have taken the multi-tasking idea to another level, either that or we are practically nuts and want to test the limits of our sanity. We’ve never really done things one at a time. Maybe that is where I get my “go big or go home” attitude….so does that mean I can blame the craziness on my husband then? LOL. Nah, I have always subscribed to the philosophy of “why put off tomorrow what you can do today.” Abe Lincoln I think….

So back to the topic of this post. Why so fast? Not really sure. Why just get married or just graduate? Why not graduate, get married, fix-up a house and have a baby all at the same time? Probably because it IS as challenging as it sounds. Every year when I compose our annual Christmas letter we reflect upon the past year’s events and it always seems like a crazy amount. I guess we have become accustomed to it. In the past 10 years: 5 moves, 3 college degrees, 4 babies, 2 homes built, numerous jobs, races, triathlons, and of course the many activities of the children. Yeesh!

Somehow in there we manage to squeeze in family time, church, family bible time, time for hobbies (golf, scrapping, photography, sewing, running, rollerblading, biking, fast-pitch). How we do it all is beyond me. Well, I guess I might have at least a clue.

  1. Faith. I have faith in myelf, my husband and our family. With God all things are possible. There is no task to large to tackle.
  2. Less sleep. I never sleep-in like in my early 20’s and don’t have time for naps.
  3. Lists. Who doesn’t love lists..ok, so maybe just me. But writing it down makes me feel soo much more at-ease and organized about it all. (And who doesn’t love crossing things out on a to do list???)
  4. Motivation & Persistence. Having the motivation to get started and the persistence to keep it going is imperative.
  5. Realistic expectations. Being realistic about our expectations for taking on such crazy tasks. We understand and accept we cannot do it all or at least not all in one day. (I admit that I have the supermom or superwoman complex. I prefer to do it myself rather than ask for help but knowing that there is help and being able to ask for it is a good plan and something I am working on.)

My grandmother who walked very fast even at the end of her years said she did so because she was afraid she’d tip over if she slowed down. That may be the same for me. If I slow down I may nap, fall asleep and miss the life I have been blessed with.

I plan to continue to keep running after my dreams, chasing my giggling children, walking hand-in-hand with my husband and doing everything I can do still get the daily chores done.

So Yes, grass doesn’t grow under these feet and I wouldn’t have it any other way.