If you read our About Us page you already know the deal…For those of you who didn’t, the gist of it is this…After a start-up, grad school, a baby, and countless moves, my husband and I are basically starting over and looking to build a solid financial foundation. To do that, we have to get back to basics….and by that, I mean a budget.
Now we used to live on a pretty strict budget. When we were but sweet young things, drowning in student loans, working multiple jobs, paying down debt, and stashing cash (again, read About Us), we lived and died by a budget. I had a spreadsheet to reconcile accounts that would make your head spin (OMG I LOVE EXCEL)!
But let’s get real here…we haven’t had an official budget in years. I always knew what our fixed spending was (think rent, student loans, etc…), and I always had a good idea of our variable (things like the electric bill and credit cards), but I just didn’t want to get too stringent and put something in writing.
I felt kinda powerless, and I just didn’t want to face it. End of story.
While my husband was doing his start-up or I was in grad school I just didn’t want to look at the numbers. They were either depressing, or I didn’t want to place too much focus on it because it would become a point of stress (read I would start to resent my husband’s business or question his need to grab a drink with a friend). Neither my husband or I come from money (quite the opposite actually), so we both (cough…me…cough) have some mental and emotional hangups when it comes to the green stuff. And honestly, it is hard to look at debt going up when you know you aren’t making an income (school), or that your husband is absolutely busting his butt to make his business work, but the cash flow just isn’t where you thought it would be this month. We were paying our bills (albeit using funds from our business or student loans) and our credit card every month, so I just said….”hey…we will get around to it when things settle down….”
Well… I am out of excuses. Things have settled down. My husband and I are both working. We now know our base salaries without a doubt. We know all of our fixed expenses, and we have a pretty good idea of what we spend on a regular basis (this took a few months after moving to a new state, doing crazy things like driving again, and…oh yeah…having baby expenses), but it is still a work in progress. So last week the husband and I sat down (with alcohol) and put pen to paper (actually we use MINT), and this is what we came up with (ish…).
As you can see (errr…sort off), we put together a detailed budget that addresses everything we routinely spend on a monthly basis. Why do I say routinely? Because I know there will be things that pop up that are unexpected. It happens!!! But if it keeps happening month after month…well, its not an unexpected expense is it? It goes in the budget!!!
NOTE: Don’t forget to include those things that you may pay infrequently, but you have to pay it. For example: We pay our auto insurance in a lump sum every time we renew our policy. Because we pay this every year, it goes in the budget (annual premium/12).
What we don’t put towards our total expenses goes to our “Savings & Debt” category. And I am happy to say, we got a little green to throw that way! WOOT WOOT!!!
Total Expenses + Savings & Debt = Income
This means that every dollar we bring in is accounted for and assigned a category. Or in other fancy pants finance lingo…we got us a Zero Sum Budget.
Now time to put this baby to work!
photo credit: www.cafecredit.com