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How We Changed Our Lives with a New Budget

How we changed our lives with a new budget:

I’ve had a few break-downs and cried about the NEW budget. I’ve been very sad because of the new budget. I’ve hated D because of the new budget {hahaha}. I’ve sold things I don’t want because of the new budget. I’ve found creative ways to earn money because of the new budget. We haven’t accumulated any debt because of the new budget. We have paid off all cards and cars because of the new budget. We rented our home and bought a second one because of the new budget.

A few years in and I kind of LOVE the new budget.

What is our new budget and how did we make it work? This is what we did to solve our money woes…

Put the stronger person in charge of the Money. This was a personal ongoing trial throughout our marriage. I am a very giving person and would relinquish our last penny to our children or a friend. Being generous and giving is a positive trait, but not when it threatens your own situation. Putting D in charge of the flow of money in and out of our household was finally the solution. Why hadn’t we done this before? Well, because D works so much, he is not good paying the bills on time…so we had to come up with our own solution…

Open two checking accounts. Our solution to paying the bills on time and managing the money was simple. I’m not sure why we hadn’t thought of it years before. Two checking accounts. The direct deposits are put into D’s account and once a month he transfers the appropriate budget into my account where I can then pay the bills and buy the groceries.

Track past month expenses. Is life nickel-ing and dime-ing you? Do you want to have $200-$300 back in your bottom line? The key is tracking and eliminating. Read more about that HERE.

Simplify expenses. Just like cleaning out your closet and eliminating excess, after you have tracked your expenses, clean out and simplify your spending. What isn’t needed? Get rid of those things first.

Comparison shop for expenses you keep. Did your cable bill go up? Call and see what better deal you can get, then call your cable company and see if they will lower your bill to match. Better yet, eliminate cable and stream instead.

Cut up the Credit Cards. This is so important. No matter how hard it is, STOP CHARGING. This may mean going without. You can do it, I promise!

Pay off the credit card with the lowest balance first. Once you have freed up more money in your budget by cancelling services you don’t need and simplifying expenses, use that money to pay off credit card debt. I found that paying the credit card off with the lowest balance first gave instant gratification and reward. After that simply take the amount you would have paid on that card and snowball it over to the next debt. Do this until all debt is paid off, including cars!

Eat at Home.  I love how Dave Ramsey says in his book The Total Money Makeover, “eat beans and rice”. It is so true. Hundreds of dollars are literally “shit” away each month. Don’t want to feel like “crap” when balancing your budget? Eat at home, eat healthy, and stop eating out.

Budget to the Penny & level pay. Is the energy bill always different each month? Call and get level-pay, this way come summer when the air conditioner is turned on full-blast there won’t be any surprises. Is the energy bill $100.05? Well, budget exactly that amount, no overage.

Budget Slush Funds. This is when you give your budget a little extra where you can pull from so there is a bit of leniency in case a bill is more one month or there is an unexpected expense.

Budget money for Yourself. You and hubby need a little freedom or you might go crazy. Make sure you agree on an amount each week which you can spend without checking in with one another. You may want to keep this as cash in your purse or save it up for a fun purchase. Just having your own extra money, even if it is $20, will help you feel better about the new budget.

Don’t increase lifestyle. This is so important. When the credit cards are paid off then save that money. Don’t go out and buy something new until your savings account has built up to the point where you have 6-12 months of living expenses saved. Remember, the budget is the budget and there is power in abiding with what is written. Self-control never felt so good!

Continue to simplify life. Continue to cut back on things that you don’t need in your life. The feeling is amazing and refreshing. There is beauty in only having what is necessary and only spending money on things you need. Embrace that notion and enjoy the security and feeling of well-being that comes when you know there is money in the bank to fall back on.

Change the way you Date. Don’t think that dates always have to be an expensive dinner and a movie, because they do not. Walk some hiking trails, hit the lake, picnic in the sun, drive to a new city and walk the downtown. Dates don’t have to cost a lot of money. It is spending time together which is priceless.

Consistency is Key. Keep on keeping on…when the going gets tough, the tough get going…don’t stop, believing…you’ve got this. It may be hard but once on the other side it is worth it. AND when on the other side, keep consistent so you don’t end up where you started. I feel that keeping consistent is the hardest part. Don’t give up!

Work, work, work. Find extra ways to make money. Where there is a will there is a way, I am sure of that. Take on extra hours at your job, get a second job, or do something at home that can bring in a bit extra. Even when a job gets tough do not quit it without having a new one in place. Make smart choices that increase your bottom line. Even $100 more a month can have a very huge impact on a tight budget.

Sell, sell, sell. This goes hand in hand with simplification. List things for sell on FB, EbayCriagslist or that you don’t need. Get rid of excess. Really consider what you want to keep and what makes you happy. Selling unwanted or unneeded items was one way we were able to get tax-free money immediately.

Save, save, save. There will come a time when you can save and it is a beautiful moment. What happens with the extra money that we don’t need to use because of our shoe-string budget? Well, it is kept safely in an account separate from our “spending account”. Dave Ramsey advises to save one years income before spending. Isn’t that a novel thought?!

Read some great books on Budgeting. I think this is important to keep up the momentum. Take time each week to read about some great success stories and learn more about budgeting, because not everything works for everyone. We all have our own set of struggles and personality types. There will be something that will eventually ring true to the type of person you are and what will work for you. When you find that thing, you can begin to own it. D and I have read many books but it still took us years to come up with a self implemented plan which really worked for us. Marrying two different minds into one budget is not easy. In fact, it has been one of the hardest things we have gone through together as a couple.

Focus on your own life. It is all too easy to see someone else’s life and think, wow, they have it EASY. Or think, they won the lottery in the game of Lucky when it comes to money. WELL STOP! Stop thinking that way and comparing because it will only bring you down and feel more defeated. There are many things that they go through to which you cannot see behind closed doors, remember that. Keep your focus and yourself, your family and your own life. Taking focus away from your family and putting it on someone else’s “supposed” perfect life is a waste of energy. Instead take that time and implement more positive changes to your own life. The end result will come more quickly and you will be happier for it.

Our new budget and the ideas we implemented above help us comfortably live on a shoe-string income if needed. This budget, which was executed during a hard time when money was tight, got us through it all. I know we would not have made it if it were not for our budget. Presently, this budget offers so much for us. It gives us security in knowing that we will be fine if something happens with one of our jobs. It gives us freedom and confidence in the work place. There is a certain air of happiness because we aren’t counting down the days for the next paycheck to hit our bank account. But most of all, our budget has given us the gift of a better relationship and ultimately a happier life. We can concentrate on us now, not the money. And that, my friends, has changed our lives.

To read more on how we solved our money woes see:

Life with Nickel and Dime You: Time to get Real

Smaller House = Bigger Life

All You Need is LESS

The following are some great books that I have read on budgeting. I truly recommend them.

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