They say money is one of the leading problems in marriage. When Jake and I were first engaged his mother offered to pay for a budgeting class for us. You might be familiar with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. If you need a kick in the butt to get out of debt, take his course and then take it again when you start slacking. His course allowed us to get out of debt (which were mainly my college student loans) four years into our marriage. Since then we have been debt free, but it didn’t mean we were free of money problems in general. In fact money was one of the main causes of fights in our home. We were usually stressed over not having enough or THINKING we didn’t have enough. So while I don’t mean for the title to be deceiving and we were never near separation, budgeting did strengthen our marriage. Let me share a little about how budgeting saved our marriage and improved it.
How Budgeting Saved our Marriage
Money is such a juicy topic. How many times have you ever wondered what a friend’s household income is? Or shyly asked someone what they spend a month on food (I just asked on Instagram!)? A friend buys a house and you sneak on Zillow to see what they spent. I think it’s human nature to WANT TO KNOW about money. We also, for the most part usually want more money or want our money to be stretched further. But it can be hard. We are a one salary family. While I am a blogger and do make money off of it, that number fluctuates drastically month to month and Jake’s work is the one stable number we have each month.
So one month about 3 years into our marriage, we were fighting about money after attempting to budget and wondering where in the world it all went. I remember that fight and in the midst of it, I left and went to the store and guess what?…..I bought something. Yeah, there’s my confession of the evening. We knew something needed to change. Saving receipts wasn’t working. Just using cash wasn’t working either. Plus we wanted a credit card to earn airline points.
Somehow we landed on an Excel based budget. Jake knew all the formulas thanks to a friend and he painstakingly created a 12 month budget for us. Over the years it has been changed and refined and I think it always will honestly. Our income changes, our needs change as well as priorities. But this Excel spreadsheet has CHANGED our lives and how we use our money.
How we Budget
Let me walk you through the exact steps we used to start our budget AND how we continue to budget in our home on a weekly basis. Yes, WEEKLY.
- We use a spreadsheet to see our expenses and spends. Jake created an Excel spreadsheet that literally contains every.single.purchase we make every.single.day. We began by initially sitting down with all of our expenses: rent/mortgage, groceries, insurances, tithe, etc. and then wrote out our income. With the remaining amount we delegated it to things we’d like to spend our money on: eating out, “fun” (or spending) money, coffee dates, etc. Every single dollar is allotted to something. If we end up with extra for the month we decide how we want to use it. Do we want to put it towards vacation? Does it go to savings? Did we have bigger expenses this month and need that extra to cover them?
- We budget every single week. There is a designated night of the week where we sit down with both of our computers (I’ll share our system in point 3) and budget the previous week and talk about what the rest of the month will look like.
- We budget together every item. So on our designated budgeting evening we both sit down with our individual computers. Jake pulls up the spreadsheet on his computer (see below) and I pull up our bank and credit card statements. I then read aloud every.single.purchase we have made during the past week and Jake inputs it into the spreadsheet. His sheet then tells us how much money we have left in each row or if we have gone over for the month. The general idea with going over in a category would be that we then take from another category and just don’t have as much for that area then for a month (however, this is still something we struggle with).
Budget Spreadsheet Example
Here is an example of our budget so that it gives you an idea of what we are doing. While I air on the side of open, I also don’t want my personal budget aired for the entire world 😉
We aren’t perfect and there are still months where we overspend. But having this spreadsheet has helped keep us focused and on top of knowing where our money is going and what we need to work on. Last year we had several rough months and after looking at our monthly budgets we realized we really just were not making enough money. It wasn’t necessarily us being too frivolous but us needing more money. We really petitioned God to meet us and show us what we were to do. God blessed us that fall with a side job and raise for Jake and several of my first really big paid collaborations as a blogger.
I hope this is helpful! Please don’t hesitate to ask us questions about this. We love sharing about what works for us. Does your family have a special way of budgeting?