In the spirit of the new year, let’s talk budgeting!
My husband and I went back and forth for the first few years of our marriage, trying to find a budgeting system that worked well for us and was something we would stick to, but we were never really happy with the process until January of last year. We can now say that we have done a full year on a disciplined budget that we have evaluated monthly (evaluation was the part we struggled with previously) and we are super excited about it! I find it funny to say that I’m excited about budgeting, but it’s true! It feels great to be on the same page about our finances, to know where our money is going and to have a sense that we are being responsible with God’s resources.
I know there are lots of plans and strategies out there, but if it helps…this is how we do it:
We have a whiteboard in our office with the fluctuating monthly expenses. (Groceries, Holly (Our dog), Dates/Dining Out, Fuel, Housing Maintenance, Vehicle Maintenance, Christie Personal, Josiah Personal, Gifts for special occasions (birthdays), Kids Miscellaneous, Phone, General Misc. Income, General Misc. Expenses. As well as a box with the months we made our savings goals.)
We keep every receipt and update the whiteboard daily. That’s so we can monitor our spending regularly. For example, if we need groceries, I can quickly see what I have left to spend for the month.
At the end of the month, Josiah analyzes that month’s performance (income vs expenses) and logs it in our monthly budget binder. He cross-references with online statements, printed statements and our receipts (kept in an accordion divider by the whiteboard).
-We budget for Christmas every month, so that we know what we can spend for family and friends come December and aren’t overwhelmed.
-We ensure that we have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. (For example, winter tires for my van.)
-We each have a personal allowance for the month (which includes eating out, clothing, personal care, entertainment, gifts for each other, etc).
-We’ve decided to avoid debt (except mortgage) and so we save each month to replace our used vehicles down the road.
If you’re interested in some specifics, here are a few percentages (of our total income) that we aim for each month:
-Kids Miscellaneous (3.75%)
-Personal allowances combined (5%)
-Housing Costs (17.5%)
-Savings [Retirement, Investments, RESP’s, another vehicle] (30%)
-Charitable Giving (11%)
[If I made any errors, I’m sure my husband will comment on this post. haha]
Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any questions or start up some interesting discussions about this topic. 🙂
P.S. Please find our general budget template below for your perusal.