Wade and I have never lived on a strict budget. We tried to be reasonable in our spending but with both of us working paying our bills was never an issue. This past summer our church (TCC) offered Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I have read his book, Financial Peace, and thought it was great. I didn’t really see how it would help to spend the money to take a class on that same book. Wade pushed some more and I finally agreed. Wow! Great class! I thought I understood insurance. I thought I knew about investments. I thought I knew how to be smart with money. This class really breaks things down.
This class also heavily stresses a budget. We decided to give it a go. Amazingly I learned a ton about budgeting. The biggest thing I learned (feel free to laugh) was that a budget changes month to month. I thought you figured out how much to spend on what and then never deviated. Then I would always have things come up that weren’t anticipated or didn’t fit in the budget. Finally I realized how a real monthly budget should work. Our June budget had items our August budget didn’t and vice versa. Because of a vacation our gas would be much higher but our groceries less; one month we had three birthdays; etc. Wade and I discuss at the beginning of the month our expected expenses and then reevaluate and adjust halfway through. It’s made it very easy to stay on track. (The budget spreadsheet we use can be downloaded here.)
This class also promotes the cash envelope system. I see the merits of that. However, I just can’t live that way. Then Wade discovered an iphone app called EEBA. It’s electronic envelopes. The best part is Wade and I both have it on our phones and can share envelopes. When he picks up groceries h immediately adds the cost and I see it on my phone. For us this was the perfect solution! It also gave Wade a convenient way to track purchases. (The one time we tried this in the past he wasn’t quite as meticulous as needed.) For things like children’s clothes we have a set amount per season and that total amount is listed on the EEBA envelope. However we have a monthly amount that is allocated for the category in our budget. (Obviously this wouldn’t work for someone literally living paycheck to paycheck.)
Anyway can I just say I get budgeting now? It’s actually fun and has definitely changed our spending habits. If anyone wants the CDs for the class we have them and would be happy to share!