Okay, so we've been at this budgeting game a full two months now. We built our first budget in early November just before our Disney trip (I know...I can't talk about it.) but we didn't put it into play until we were back home. I've been pretty open in conversations, on Facebook and, of course, this blog about our - um - adventure. The most common question I've gotten, and I get it often, is if budgeting is hard and/or overwhelming. I thought I'd take a minute and write about that in case any of my readers are wondering the same thing. (Assuming I have readers.....) ;)
At first, it was very hard to sit down and face the music with where we were on our credit card amounts. I'm not a drinker, but I could relate to the scene in the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic when the girls sat down and totalled up Rebecca Bloomwood's credit card accounts. Her roommate said something like, "You get the bills, I'll get the tequila." Really, the hardest part was coming clean. Now I feel the need to say that I never thought I was a big spender. I - pretty much - only used my credit cards when I felt what I was buying was a need. I've charged a lot of pet food, groceries and gas. Because my intent while shopping was to check out with my Discover card, I would easily add extras on in the name of "need". (Cleaning tools, extra groceries, etc.) I was very nervous for Aaron to see just how much my Discover had racked up since the last time we had a "budget" meeting. (We had no idea what a true budget meeting was. Back in the day, it was more like a budget throwdown. LOL!) My nervousness quickly disappeared when I saw that he had charged gum to his Bank of America card. We were both guilty. We both knew it. We didn't blame each other though. Instead we decided to work as a team to get a budget on paper and figure a way to make it into the black so we were making more than spending. That was tough.
Getting our budget to the black took cancelling our iPhones. That hurt. However, I almost immediately realized that I was checking it WAY too much and therefore missing out WAY too much of my children. Now that it gone, I'm kinda glad. I am not saying that I'd never want one again, but if we ever do get phones again, I will be very conscience of how often I'm on it. Having cancelled the cell phones, we were just about in the black, so long as Aaron could pick up an overtime shift or two and I could teach piano. Our goal was to get where we could live off of Aaron's paycheck without overtime and my church paycheck. (It's small because I only work four hours a week but it's steady.) Once we paid off Old Navy and QVC, we found that we were very close to that goal.
Once the budget was in the black, I found a lot of peace and much less stress by having cash in envelopes to spend from. Having the decisions already made before payday makes my day-to-day life much easier. I love that I no longer have the guilt of charging things that I always knew I should be paying cash for. I also love that I know I have the money for the things my family and my pets need for the next two weeks; and that we have an emergency fund for...well...emergencies! There's just a lot of peace in those things. I've also found that I have a lot more time on my hands because I'm not shopping nearly as much as before.
Just two months in, I can't imagine going back to our non-budgeting days! I also can't imagine charging anything. It's amazing how new habits can totally change your life. If you're on the fence about budgeting, go for it! It's changed our life for the better and I think the Lord is pleased with it. I finally feel like I'm being a good steward with His money. Amazing!