Budgeting for Beginners

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My husband and I have been vagrants for our whole marriage (all one year of it) and even for a while before that. We have lived in about 7 different homes/apartments each lasting about 1 week to 3 months. We have had random odd jobs, part-time jobs, internships, no jobs, living off of savings.

So as you can tell, not a very stable situation. (But we have had lots of fun doing it!)

Recently, we moved back to my hometown. Found full-time jobs – with benefits and everything. And just paid our first month rent towards a one-year lease for apartment that we love. Wow. Talk about a little bit of stability.

With that stability comes that first actually budget that we have sat down to make and to stick to. A little bit nerve racking. We have had to look online at budget tools and hints. Had to really dig through to find all of our expenses. Had to  look at our priorities. Pretty hard stuff.

Of course we also had a great resource right in front of us. (HINT: this blog!)

Here are some of our own tips that we suggest when making a budget:

  1. Make a list of all of your Income & Expenses

In doing so you can really see where your money is coming from and where it is going. My husband set up an Excel document and used functions to figure out the totals. It is really handy to use. Remember expenses like:

  • bills
  • internet, cell phones, utilities
  • groceries
  • benefits from your job
  • prescriptions
  • charities
  1. Set Priorities

This was pretty easy for us. We know that we have some student loans that need to be paid off. We totaled the month cost and put that at the very top of our list of expenses. Next on the list was rent. Luckily we found a place to live where all utilities (expect phone, internet, cable) are included. Since we have cell phones and are declining cable, this leaves internet. Internet was another priority for us. Since my blogging hobby is growing, and he is learning about all the Adobe photo/video tutorials, we want internet.

  1. Save!

This was one of our priorities. I feel that savings is one of the most important things you can do. Save for emergencies. Save for travel. Save for education. Save for a house. Save for a baby. Without savings, stress usually follows. And since we have been living off our savings for almost a year, Yes, savings is important. And we need to build it back up again. We have budgeted at least 10% towards savings.

4. Leave some wiggle room.

While budgeting & priority setting are both totally awesome, stressing out is not OK. We are learning this through experience. Especially my husband. We try not to be slaves to money; it is easy to make money an idol. Always needing the nicest cars, electronics, house. That is not a good mindset. But the other extreme is just as bad. Stressing out about sticking to your budget is another way to become a slave to money. Sometimes it’s just time to do a little budgeting for dummies! By allowing your self some error & flexibility with spending, you can overcome the idolatry that is money and live more simply.

Please share some of your budgeting tips that work. Any advice for these newlyweds is very welcome!

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  1. Thanks for sharing Erin. We spent many hours working on budgets over our married years as well.. and yes we also used the cash system ( and still do for our groceries) Great way to start off a marriage! So excited to hear how hard you are working on this area!

  2. My husband and I married in 1984 and we have always had a budget. Like you say sometimes its hard to stick to but we are in our fifties now our children are grown up and we have never had to worry about the essentials like bills, food etc. as the money has been there. Its worth it, we now own our house, no mortgage, we can have a few more treats and save for our retirement. Whilst still helping the children in emergencies. We always lived to the ‘if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it’ rule.

  3. Very nice article! I like the use of a list and having that wriggling room!!

    Something a lot of people forget is to make sure you have some ‘wriggling room’ or as i call it ‘overflow’ :). One thing I think you glazed over which maybe you could have gone in depth into is the savings part! We all hear the word savings and know what it means but don’t know how to use it or what to spend it on. I spend a bit of time discussing this in my blog post about budgeting(shameless self plug sorry!): http://www.path-2-greatness.com/how-to-budget/