The Elephant in the Room: Is Sticking to a Budget Possible?
So let’s be honest. There are PLENTY of resources out there on how to make a budget.
The problem is sticking to a budget!
We’ve found something that has worked for years that keeps us sticking to our budget and it really isn’t rocket science!
Sticking to a Budget 101: Pick a day of the week that you will spend about an hour on your finances when you are consistently home.
If you are married sticking to a budget will require a time for both spouses to work through finances together. If you will invest an hour a week on your money you will quickly be surprised how little you actually talk about money and this money date will likely get shorter. Put this date on your weekly calendar as a recurring event. Don’t miss it! Let us repeat. Don’t miss it! We picked Sunday evening when the kids go to bed. Do everything possible to make this happen. It will make the work twice as hard if you miss a week.
Consistency is key to sticking to the budget!
We call this time a “Money Date.”
Make some coffee (our personal strong and bold favorite, found at Costco, you’re welcome!) or tea and relax. Guess what? It’s not all on you. God wants you to win! He is for you and not against you. Ask Him to guide you and give you wisdom. Trust that He will! “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
Why both spouses?
Well, because when you get married you become one. Throw the notion of dual accounts, hidden stashes, and secret credit cards out the window if you’re set on becoming financially free! This is a holy union, not a business partnership. In our family, Jason is the guy who loves to work with numbers and Kristel is the main shopper for groceries, clothes, etc. We both show up for this Money Date. Jason enters the numbers and balances the budget as Kristel calls out the receipts. One can pay bills while the other makes a menu and plans the grocery budget, works on other family details, etc…. It’s ALL vitally important!
We haven’t always done finances this way, but we found it just works better when we’re both collaborating together.
This creates transparency in spending and unity in making decisions. It works better if we both recognize how the budget went that week. It gives us a weekly opportunity to tweak spending so we can correct if things didn’t go as planned the week before. Every week we have a fresh chance to reset, talk, and to meet our monthly budget. Having both spouses present makes it easier to talk about things before they become problems and plan for the future.
And that’s it. Sticking to a budget is not rocket science, but we’ve found this money date thing works! All week long we keep a receipt for everything we buy and reconcile that with our online purchases and bank account at our money date.
Oh, this doesn’t sound like fun? Well, there is one more little surprise. You’ll need some fun money. Maybe at first, it’s just $5-10 each but give yourself a little fun money. No receipts needed. We just use cash for this. This can be adjusted according to the health of your finances. It’s fun to know you can occasionally buy a large specialty coffee or splurge on something a little frivolous without guilt because you’ve made and stuck to a plan! The freedom this brings will help motivate you to stay on track!