Matt and I never used to budget. A year ago, we were over spending and getting ourselves into some serious consumers debt….all because we had no idea how to budget or set priorities. We have since gotten out of debt, and now we budget. Like, all the time. Each month I write out a list of our monthly income and divide up where our money needs to go. Rent, groceries, hydro & gas, cars, and cell phones. Anything left over, lately, has been going into our Christmas fund.
Take yesterday, for example. I received my baby bonus…I paid Matt’s cell phone bill, the hydro bill, and did some serious grocery shopping. I then did some Christmas shopping, because I have this reoccurring nightmare that it’ll be Christmas day and there will be no presents under the tree for Nolan. I bought presents for all the babies, and got Nolan a few things. The “extra” money that was left over (and unaccounted for in my budget) went to “date night”, which actually ended up being free thanks to our Scotiabank Scene cards – two free movie tickets, popcorn and two drinks absolutely free. Our sitter didn’t even cost money, because my SIL refused to accept it. So our date night was free. Matt asked if he could spend some money on buying xBox online minutes, and I said yes because I know he’d still be whining about it if I didn’t, and since we hadn’t spent a dime on our date night, I figured the money was there.
What I didn’t account for (or remember, at that point) was that we had grabbed McDonalds for dinner, as we were out too late Christmas shopping and didn’t have the time to cook anything and it was Nolan’s dinner time. But I totally forgot about it, so when I checked the bank account balance and discovered our grand total was 13.50, I nearly shat a brick.
I was supposed to be going to a fundraiser tonight for my neighbor/friend/landlord with another friend. However, I still need to buy my birth control pills so I can no longer go to the fundraiser and I am kicking myself in the ass for not paying more attention to where the extra money was going. Yes, we needed to pay those bills, get groceries and I did need to do some Christmas shopping – but I should have paid more attention to where the extra money was going.
Matt is also famous for not paying attention, as I am the one that usually handles money (and I’ve gotten way better at it in the past year!). He makes the money, I decide where it goes. And I’m proud that I’m no longer indulgent. I mean, yes…I allowed Matt to get his xBox minutes, but we’ve cut our spending down so much and I constantly say no to him about everything. And, this is also part of his Christmas present. I was going to make him wait until Christmas for it, but we all know I wouldn’t have survived the constant whining. Yes, I’m married to a 12-year-old (some times).**
Despite all this, I’m not too worried about “our situation”. We have enough groceries and gas to last until our next “payday”. We don’t have any bills coming up either. So, I’ll just have to miss out on the fundraiser tonight (so I can buy my birth control pills) and it will be a lesson to me to pay more attention to where our “extra” money is going, especially considering that our “extra” money wasn’t (and isn’t usually) all that much.
I still need to improve our saving habits, I know this – and I’m working on it. While our spending habits have improved tenfold, our saving habits need some serious improvement. Matt and I have always had the foolish mindset that “if we have it in the bank, why not spend it and treat ourselves?”. Once I get over the hurdle of Christmas, We will be able to focus more on saving…because we’re both realizing now that saving is a bigger treat than spending immediately. We want to save for a new sofa, new[er] appliances, and other things that might come up.
We both used to be a lot worse on indulging then we are today. Yesterday was our first date night since the summer time, before we got married. Last year, we racked up over 2 grand in debt over cell phones because we just didn’t pay the bills, or tried to get out of three year contracts because we wanted new phones with different phone companies. We were so stupid, it’s ridiculous! I’m glad we moved up North, got the help (and the kicks in the asses) that we desperately need. We literally needed someone to take our hand and show us how to be adults (when it came to spending).
I’m thankful that my father-in-law and step-mom-in-law were able to teach us those things, to hold our hands and guide us in the right direction. Even though it was super hard merging households and even though our relationship became rocky due to living so close to one another, I’m glad we moved in with them. I know I had my share of problems with them, and they with us, but I’m glad that they gave us the tools we needed in order to learn how to budget.
I know that if we had stayed down south, and continued putting our heads in the sand every time we got a call from a collection agency, we would not be as happy as we are today. Yes, we still argue about money and get stressed out, but we know what we’re doing – to an extent, anyway. We need to smarten up with the whole saving bit, for sure.
I’m glad we’ve come a long way in budgeting. We get it now, how important it is to have money set aside for rent, hydro, gas, groceries, and other monthly bills. We don’t have to worry about not making rent because we know exactly where our money is going. Now I just need to master the rainy day fund and the saving fund, and then we’ll be set for life. We have zero credit cards to get ourselves into trouble with, and I’m glad. We’re still building our credit by paying our hydro bills and cell phone bills on time each month, so I’m not too concerned.
There are two areas I really want to focus on in the next 9 months (for the rest of the time that Matt’s in school):
- Learning how to keep money in the rainy day fund, for “just in case” circumstances.
- Putting a set amount of money away into a savings account, for the things we want to buy.
I know we’ll be alright, because each day we get better with budgeting and handling our money. And our determination to stop being idiots when it comes to this kind of thing is legit.
I’ve asked Matt to tell me “no” when I say “I want to get this RIGHT NOW!” Matt has a very hard time telling me no, because he wants to give me everything that I want. While his intentions are sweet, I always feel bad afterwards and blame him for not saying no. It goes both ways – when Matt wants something, I hate saying no. I do it more than I did before and I’m definitely better at telling him no then he is at telling me no, but still there are times that I give in when I probably shouldn’t. (Example: the flatscreen TV he bought when we first moved out).
That’s something else we both need to work on.
Holy jeebus, is there ever a time when we don’t need to work on something?
But honestly; it’ll be worth it. I feel like we’re learning these lessons sooner than a lot of people our age learn them. Yes, we’ve taken the harder path to get here…but at least we’ll never make the same mistakes again!
I guess the whole point of this post is that budgeting and saving both are really important, and that if I could tell my younger self something, it’d be to learn these lessons sooner 😀 If I had, maybe I would already have that new sofa I want, and tons of money saved up 😛
Ah well, baby steps…right?
How are you with managing moneys? Are you good at budgeting and saving? What areas do you feel you need to work on?
**I just want to make it clear that Matt is NOT 12, for those of you who are new readers. LOL.