Creating and sticking to a budget: Our Story

by Melody on January 18, 2012

Recently I asked on the Facebook wall if anyone was interested in a budgeting series, and if so, what were your biggest challenges and what kind of information were you looking for.  I was truly amazed by your response and it seems like so many of you are either looking for a place to start or just need some help figuring things out.  I am by no means an expert, I only have our amazing personal experience, what has worked and definitely hasn’t worked along the way.

Even though I’m not an expert, I figure we can all benefit from exploring the world of budgeting a little more in-depth.  I can tell you, with 100% certainty, that budgeting has saved our lives, saved our marriage and made my husband and I far better people along the way.

I’m still trying to hash out how I would like this series to go, it’s kind of taken on a life of its own in my head.  After giving it a lot of thought, I figured there is no better way to launch this series than to share our story with you.

After several years of butting heads about our money philosophies, attempting to just ignore our bills and having conversations like this:

Me: “I want to have kids”
My husband: “I want to be financially secure”
Me: “What does that mean?”
My husband: “I don’t know, but I want whatever it is”

A friend of mine let me borrow her copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (Amazon).  I devoured it and then made my husband read it.  It shocked me how basic the ideas were.  What shocked me even more was that we hadn’t been able to put together these ideas ourselves.  Dave Ramsey took the emotions out of the budget, which was something my husband and I couldn’t do.

We got to work.

I always felt like we had a “reasonable” amount of debt, although I’m now pretty sure that such a thing does not exist.  We wrote down each and every debt we had and added it all up.  Have you done this?  It was a little shocking.  A little here, a little there doesn’t seem so bad until you lay it all out in front of you.  To actually say out loud that we had over $35,000 in debt broke my heart a little.

Now we really got to work.

We wrote a budget. We rewrote our budget.  We argued a little about our budget.  We scrapped our budget and wrote it again.  We wrote down each individual debt in the order we wanted to pay it off and plastered it on the fridge.  We somehow muscled up an extra $1000 to put into savings for our “Emergency Fund”.  I hated the idea of not putting that $1000 towards our debt, but grudgingly admitted that I liked the security.

We VERY slowly started paying off our debts, one by one.  We took 10 steps forward, then 30 steps back.  We fell off the wagon a few times.  We reread the book to get motivated again.  We got pregnant.  We had Little Dude #1 and went down to one income.  We rewrote our budget.  We got pregnant.  We had Little Dude #2.  We rewrote our budget.  Our plans got derailed a little, we had to borrow money from my parents.  We paid off my parents and were amazingly staring at the idea of being debt-free.

In just under 5 years, we have paid off over $45,000 in debt.  The majority of that time was with only one income.  My husband doesn’t play for the Yankees or anything and I’m not a high profile fashion model.  We are average people on an average income. We are also people who only very occasionally argue about money.  We make it work for us instead of the other way around.  We literally have financial peace.

I’d like to address each aspect of our journey in a separate post, down to the basics of getting started.  Again, we are not experts in this field.  We just have a lot of blood, sweat, tears and TIME into this business of budgeting.  Where are you at in your budgeting journey?  What kind of information or help are you looking for?

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