Managing Money

Recently Ken and I sat down and figured out our budget for the new year. Ken has carefully budgeted our money ever since we got married (and I have carefully tried to make sure that we stay within our budget) but this is the first time that we actually worked on figuring out the budget together. It was actually quite fun. I really enjoyed the opportunities to discuss spending and saving priorities and things like that.

Both Ken and I were very blessed to be raised by parents who tried to avoid debt as much as possible. Both sets of parents also managed quite well to raise fairly large families on fairly small incomes. The examples that we were given have been invaluable to us. That doesn't mean we have done everything perfectly in managing our money but it sure was a great help!

   As we worked on this years budget we also discussed the spending we had done last year (Ken and I save all receipts and Ken carefully records everything on Quicken each month so we can know where our money is going.)  Some of the numbers were a little amazing to me. Things like- "We really spent that much on going out to eat last year?!" or "Yea! We are under budget on food again, even though our kids are eating more and costs are rising".  Looking at those numbers together was really neat for allowing us to discuss things and figure out how to make things work- together. It is also making me think "How can we spend even less in many different areas" I hope to share more about that on a regular basis soon.

   One thing I thought it might be helpful to note is that a budget (and working on it together) can be very helpful when there are things you and your spouse might not see eye to eye on. Ken and I have a couple of those. There are some things that I think we could spend less on but they are important to Ken (and vice versa) and there are somethings that I would like to spend more on but Ken doesn't see as being that important. So what happens? We discuss it and compromise. But at least we have come to a decision. If it isn't discussed then that can be a major source of conflict when one person just does what she/he pleases without having figured out what will really work best for the family.

At the end of 2010 at church I went through the Crown Money Map program. (It teaches very similar concepts as Dave Ramsey's method but the program is much cheaper to go through and I think they focus on Biblical teaching a little more.) I found it very fun and inspiring. It didn't change life drastically for us as we have budgeted/had a spending plan already but I still learned a lot and was truly inspired.   I just thought I would tell others about that resource in case you were looking for some help.

   One of the things from the program that really inspired me was on paying early on your mortgage or refinancing your home with a shorter (like 15 yr instead of 30 yr) mortgage. One of our friends just did this and the amount of interest they are going to save is around $50,000. That is so cool and we are hoping to work on this as well.

   Getting rid or our mortgage and paying off Ken's business is definitely something that I think would be very fun to see happen (the sooner the better!) and so I am trying to see if there are ways that I can spend a lot less in other areas. I am hoping to discuss each area in detail in the coming weeks. I plan on sharing ways we have saved money and also possibly ideas that I am looking at and I would love your advice and tips as well. Here are some of the topics that I hope to address:
  • Dining out
  • Mortgage
  • Entertainment
  • Gift Giving
  • Groceries
  • Toiletries
  • Paper Products
  • Garbage pick-up (I think I would like to get rid of this $16 a month bill- we shall see)
  • Clothing
  • Cleaners
  • Business Expenses
  • Gasoline/ Auto expenses
  • Travel
I am just curious? Do you have a budget/money plan in your home? Is it a joint project between the spouses or does just one take care of it?
Do you have an tips for saving in any of the mentioned topics? I would love to hear your thoughts!

This is linked to Frugal Friday