Budget. I hated this word. The world felt negative to me. I was never an over spender. I save by nature but for some reason I did not like this word! I don’t know when or how my thoughts on this word changed, but now when I hear this word, I think discipline, I think strength, and I think surrender.
I am lucky. I have never been much of a spender but my understanding of what a budget was and how to budget was minimal. I married a man that is a wiz at Excel and understands budgets, numbers, and money much more than I will or ever have. Aaron and I both brought debt in the form of student loans into our marriage. We knew that we both wanted that debt gone as soon as possible. After saving some money and purchasing a home it was time to start paying off our debt. We took several months when we were first married to track our spending. Aaron had me input everything I spend to that we knew how much we spent on groceries, toiletries, eating out, clothing, etc. We used this information along with Dave Ramsey’s budgeting sheet to come up with numbers that worked for us in each category.
We decided that we would use cash to help us not go over the allotted amount in each category. Taking out cash each month is really what has saved us so much money. With a card it is so easy to estimate what is left and spend over. There is no tangible barrier and so we overspend easily. The amount that we used to spend on groceries in comparison to what we now spend makes me sick to think about. Then there was the amount of food that we would end up throwing out because it went bad before we could eat it.
Figuring out our budget has taken time, and a lot of work. I have to plan everything that we will eat and I have to be conscious about what I spend and when. Socially, there have been times that I have had to say no, but I am conscious to make those decisions in a way that it will not affect or dictate my relationships. I just have to get creative sometimes.
All in all, I appreciate what I have learned in this area more than for just the fact that we are saving money and paying off our loans. I appreciate that I have learned to be wise with our money and I have learned to view money as a gift that I have been put in charge of here on this earth. I have learned to steward and give thanks for what I have, rather than focus on what I am lacking. This journey has even helped to strengthen our marriage as we have learned to communicate about money rather than fight. From something that used to have such a negative connotation in my head, I have learned so much and am so thankful for all that I have gained through this.