Our journey with personal finance planning in the short time of being married has taught us a lot about each other and ourselves. Having goals around your financial life will set you up for success whether your married or not. Personally, I don’t think society puts enough emphasis on money management. Unlike other things that we are required to learn in school, sadly, personal finance planning, is not one of them.
Over the last month, we’ve become quite obsessed with Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Ok, maybe I’m the one who is obsessed… I’m blaming it on my finance background and type A personality. Tyler is totally on board for the record, he just doesn’t spend a number of hours listening to The Dave Ramsey Show like I do. I’m totally inspired by all the debt free screams! We are working on paying off our debt and wouldn’t be able to accomplish it without our monthly budget.
Creating a budget is CRUCIAL to the success of your personal finance planning. Today I’m sharing the steps to take to create a budget. Your financial goals play a HUGE role in how you set this up for yourself but unfortunately, that is another blog post all on its own. Read through the steps below and grab the freebie via the link at the bottom of the post to help!
Pull together your income and expenses in the following categories.
TRACK EVERYTHING – INCLUDING WHAT YOU SPEND ON CREDIT CARDS AND AUTOMATIC ACH WITHDRAWALS… I MEAN E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!
Assign EVERY DOLLAR a task.
Make sure every dollar of income is assigned to something, whether it be savings, debt payments, or groceries. This is important because you need to understand exactly where your money is going and see what percentage of your income is going where.
Make adjustments to your lifestyle if necessary.
In college, I didn’t use a budget but I wish I had. Personal finance planning was not on my radar what-so-ever. Once I graduated, it still took me awhile to realize the value of creating a budget. When I finally did, I realized my spending choices weren’t the greatest. I realized I was spending more than I was making. Yikes! I’ve always been a spender and probably always will be. Thankfully, Tyler is more of the saver so we balance each other out. While working on Dave Ramsey’s plan, I’m so glad I have him to keep me accountable. (Tip: If you are single and going through his plan, find a friend or family member to keep you accountable.)
*Our Recent Lifestyle Changes*
We decided to cut cable a few months ago and we only use streaming services. In addition, we are finally saving money for future expenses that we know we will have to pay soon. For example, tags for our cars and the HOA payment. We save an equal amount every month so that when those roll around, we have the exact amount that we need to pay, with our emergency fund left over. Our quarterly payment is $300 to the HOA. So, we save $100 per month so that by the end of the 3 month quarter, we can pay the next bill. Lastly, I’ve joined a van pool for my commute so that’ll save us about $200 per month.
Update/review your budget at least once per week
Honestly, I look at our budget and bank account about every other day, sometimes every day depending on the time of the month. The first and third weeks of the month is our busiest. You may call me obsessed or paranoid but I call it passion…. Or gazelle-intensity for the Dave Ramsey fans out there! In my opinion, looking at it once a week is not enough because it makes me feel overwhelmed. It takes longer to reconcile my budget with our account and makes me freak when I can’t get it to balance. Visiting it more often makes me feel like there it isn’t a maintenance nightmare anymore.
Read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book
Please, please, please!!! This will be the best money you ever spend! If you don’t want to start that yet, you could also listen to his podcast. You’ll hear a great mix of stories, situations, and types of people, but it is incredibly inspiring to hear the stories about how much debt people have paid off. The principles he teaches aren’t what you’d normally see in financial degree background but they are EXTREMELY PRACTICAL! (Check out his book here.) I’m a firm believer that we don’t have to live our lives in constant debt… including a mortgage. It takes time, patience and determination, but I’m convinced it can be done.
I absolutely love to work on our budget. It makes me so darn happy to manage and plan how we can pay off our debt and start saving, investing, and giving. I’ve created our monthly budget template (below) as a new freebie for you. I truly hope this post and the budget template help you in your personal finance planning. Finally, if you haven’t heard what Dave Ramsey teaches, look him up!!!