More than anything there is one word that I absolutely despise. My husband uses it more than I would like and I always get defensive after hearing it. Have you guessed it yet? Nope, not that one. This one…
It’s a dirty dirty word. But in our household, a necessary one. You would think one would spend New Year’s Day eating black eyed peas and being lazy like MOST Americans. Not the Parker’s. For us, it was still the 1st of the month. Nothing changed. Will gets paid once a month. When he first took the job I just knew it was going to be nearly impossible as a family of 4 living on one income to make this work. Once a month? I knew we were going to run out. I was convinced we could never do it. That’s when we became a little too acquainted with our friend “The B Word”. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, it took some getting used to and adjusting. Most months I feel like we are still adjusting but for the most part we’ve made it work. Will and I don’t fight about much. Actually, hardly ever and for this I am so grateful. But you can bet your little tushy on the 1st day of the month when we both sit down at the computer together, me with my notebook and pen and him with excel pulled up, there are some “heated discussions” coming from the computer room that no one wants to witness. See, anyone that knows me and/or my husband knows that we both like to debate each other. If for nothing else, just to see the other ones feathers get ruffled. Good trait in a marriage? I’m not so sure. But, it always ends fine and somebody has gotten a laugh out of it. (usually at the other ones expense). Will and I also couldn’t be more different, I guess the saying opposites attract holds true in our case. We both come from very different backgrounds, different parenting styles, different beliefs, different priorities. This makes for never a dull moment but also for some give and take when it comes to most things. Now, back to that Budget…
Though every situation is different I will attempt to explain how we make our Budget work. Lord knows we aren’t perfect and our ways could probably use a little help and most months we would probably make both Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman faint, but… we try. It’s what works for us and you will find what works for you. The best thing I have found about Will getting paid once a month is that you have one number. So we start with that number then we start subtracting. (this is when my defensive tone and the sweating sets in) After a couple of months I finally got it to where we are able to pay all of our bills on the 1st-5th of each month. Alot of them being directly drafted out and then manually paying the others. So, after that being done, we are left with yet again one lone number. This number is what we have for the month after all bills. This is where I come in. I run my house like a well oiled machine. Wait, let’s try again. I TRY to run my house like a well oiled machine. I’m known to lay down the iron fist every now and then, my mother calls me a Nahtzee (I know she means it with love 🙂 ). I have my way of doing things and it just works. I don’t know why or how it works, but it works. So when it comes to money my crazy, control freak, well oil machined ways, work. The main thing I have found to help my family in the world of budgeting is Meal Planning. I plan on doing a whole blog post about it because I’ve had many people inquire about my meal planning ways but for now I will touch on it briefly. As a family, we generally don’t eat out much. I always find eating out a disappointment. You spend way too much money for food that I always think I could have made better. We also found that eating out was taking out a huge unnecessary chunk of our cash flow. So, we just stopped. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely indulge in our Mexican obsession, we just limit it to once a month. I’ve found for a family of 4, 3 of them consisting of boys with an appetite of a blue whale (fun fact — they eat 8000 lbs of food a day. Thanks Google!) that it cost about $400 in groceries a month. That’s a big chunk of change on perishables. Geez. What I do, is sit down at the beginning of each month with a calendar. I figure out our schedules for the month and see when we are home and how many meals I need to accommodate that month. I set aside some nights for left over nights/fend for yourself nights and then I make my grocery list from there. We generally eat 3 meals a day at least 5 days a week at home. I have found this to be our BIGGEST money saver. I know a lot of you eat out, but I challenge you to take baby steps. 2 nights that you would usually grab something out, eat it at home and watch the pennies slowly add up. Its the little steps that make the biggest differences.
The good that came out of our January 1 “heated discussion” is that we discovered that we will be able to pay off my student loan by the end of February 2013. WOOHOO! I only graduated 5 years ago, so its ABOUT TIME! And, those of you out there whose parents allowed you to enter the real world with zero student loan debt, thank them, hug them, kiss them then kiss them again. You don’t know how lucky you are! Though we are still paying on Will’s student loan, one less payment a month is going to be a big milestone for us. It will also be a weight lifted and a sense of accomplishment knowing that its paid in full. Praise the Lord.
Speaking of the Lord.. remember when I said Will and I are different. I, myself am a giver. Will, a saver. Both equally good and bad. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard Will say “stop giving to the poor, we are the poor” “we’re going to have take from Peter to pay Paul” etc., etc., etc… Another one of our “heated discussions is on Tithing. I would LOVE to hear each of your view on tithing too. We are blessed with a great church that does not shove it down your throat but gives you “gentle reminders” that it is your due diligence. One of my favorite quotes during stewardship that I heard and had written down is this “When we surrender every area of our lives– including our finances–to God, then we are free to trust Him to meet our needs. But if we would rather hold tightly to those things that we possess, then we find ourselves in bondage to those very things.” ( -Larry Burkett Money Matters) I am a firm believer in tithing. I pray about it. I fight for it. I’m not sure either mine or Will’s view on tithing is right or wrong. We do the best we can. Period. But, I always love to hear other people’s inputs on this subject. Like I mentioned before I’m a debater. I like to push people’s buttons (in a good way) I like to know why you believe what you believe and so on…I’m always intrigued by people who think different than I do.
So after 1303 words of rambling about our budget and the way we attempt to do things. I ask what works for you? Do you budget? How do you and your spouse make the topic of money not so scary? Larry Burkett also said “Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our Marriage”. I think we are floating in the middle. Just like the rest of you, we take it day by day and do the best we can to make this life work for US.
“Money is an area of marriage that can be used to develop good communications. It is a tool God has given you to learn a great deal about each other. For instance, just talking about the kind of home that you want to live in helps you to learn a lot about each other.”