This is the budget story of an amazing couple we know! They are truly inspirational! And to hear how they handle their budget every month, we cannot help but admire them! Thank you so much Josh and Heidi for sharing this with us…
Josh and I started budgeting together while we were engaged, but prior to that we had attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University when we first started dating. We had always been transparent with each other in regards to finances, even in the early days of dating, so there weren’t any surprises when it came to combining our lives as we were approaching our wedding day. Although we had been trained in FPU, we didn’t start being strict with budgeting until we started doing it together. I hate to use the word “strict” because it sounds negative. Many people think the work “budget” sounds negative too. But I can tell you, the more strict you are with your budget, the more positive your finances will be.
This may sound ridiculous, but we actually look FORWARD to our budgeting date once a month. We are always one month ahead, so our 30+ envelopes in our binder have become our pseudo checking account. We no longer impatiently anticipate a paycheck being directly deposited just so it can be siphoned out to pay the bills, then spend the rest, have nothing to show for it, and then find ourselves waiting until the next check. We pool our individual income together from the current month to be budgeted out for the following month. This allows us to TRULY combine our separate incomes into one. It’s not “your paycheck covers rent, my paycheck covers food, and then we’ll deal with the rest as it comes.” As we each get paid throughout the month we withdrawal the cash, put it in safe keeping, and at the end of the month we gather it all together in OUR cash pile (not yours and mine) and divvy it out among our envelopes. Then when the new month comes, all we have to do is pull from those envelopes throughout the month to pay for bills, date nights, birthdays, gas, etc. It’s right there waiting for us, and all the money has been given a name. So, our real bank checking account has become our drop off place, and our binder is what we go to when we need to “withdrawal” cash. We simply are withdrawing exactly what we need from the envelope we need it from.
Because there are some budget items that fluctuate month to month (gas, food, utilities) we always make sure to OVER estimate the amount for those envelopes. At the end of the month there is always a few extra dollars leftover and then we can decide if we want to spend it for fun, give it away, or put it in savings. The thing that makes budgeting surprisingly fun is that we take into account EVERYTHING we could possibly spend money on, so we know each dollar that is spent and in turn we actually feel like we have stuff to show for it. Our budget includes saving for retirement, saving for a future car, house, baby, etc. It also includes a monthly contribution towards an unknown vacation, which has allowed us to freely book a random getaway to Oregon, a rental van that we are able to bless my brother, sister in law and their kids with (they are vacationing with us), all without hesitation or going into debt.
I won’t lie. At first I was scared because I was worried that I wasn’t going to spend money on the things I like to spend money on, like lunch with a friend, a new candle for the house, a pedicure, etc. But when we realized we both had similar fears, and that a mutually agreed upon budget would take them away, we couldn’t wait to start filling up our envelopes together. Now, instead of having to ask for permission, I get to pull money from my allowance envelope, go buy what I want, and then excitedly come home to show it off to my husband, rather than try to hide my shopping bag so he won’t ask how much I spent.
The bottom line is, having a thorough budget that we stick to no matter what, takes away the burden of communicating about finances or asking permission as if someone is more in charge than the other. Plus, it creates an environment of trust, financial growth, and opportunities to bless others.