Well, this post is a bit behind schedule; but then again, it’s never really a BAD time to crunch the numbers and consider a budget. Kent and I were so strict with our budgeting early on in our young lives together. We combined ALL of our earnings, because we knew getting to our goals would happen much faster when we were in it as a TEAM. Along the way though, we loosened the purse strings, used “rough numbers” and more and more frivolous spending started.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS FOR OUR FIRST HOME
I remember sitting in our rented 4-plex, post wedding, 17 or so years ago, getting excited every month to put that check into savings. We had it in a completely different bank so we wouldn’t touch it!! Only adding to it, never taking away, we were able to come up with a downpayment of TWENTY percent for our very first home! The bank and the builder were quite impressed with our money management, and so were we. We built a beautiful home I expected to be living in a VERY long time.
Fast forward a few years, a move, two babies, upgrades in vehicles and developing yards, crunching the numbers became scary. Like, we were going the opposite way and not sure how to stop it. Part of it was trying to look like we were moving up in the world and spending more than needed. My biggest example is wanting to build a deck on our second home, with some lattice and a pergola for partial shade….a good example would be kind of like this one I found on Pinterest:
But of course, that was were we started….we ended up with this:
So…yeah….That’s crazy. While it was the most beautifully designed and FULL of details deck and outdoor space, we DID NOT have the money for that. No WAY! But truly, this is how I thought people did it. Get a loan, pay it off with minimum payments. Nobody mentions that it makes you a slave to that loan, and it takes WAY more away from you in the cost of interest. So we put it on a Home Equity Loan, which is so largely suggested by banks, especially if you are upgrading your home. That’s what those loans are foooorrrrrr…….#giveusmoreofyourmoney
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS – LESSON LEARNED
It took almost an entire year to get this project designed, built, stained and decorated. I loved it. For REALZ. I loved every square INCH of it! And some would say, “Then it was worth it!! No regrets!” Except there were regrets. Especially when Kent kept referring to it as “Harley” because it cost more than his dream motorcycle and was the reason he couldn’t get one. What were we DOING spending that kind of money, all in one shot, on a deck. Used it every possible moment? YES. Did it need to look like it belonged in a magazine? NOPE. Could it have been incredible for half the price? YYYAASSSSSS. So enter…buyer remorse.
WHAT IS BUYER REMORSE?
I bet I don’t have to explain it; but it’s when you purchase something on a whim / getting caught up in the moment or without thinking if you can afford it, or knowing if you even need it or not, and then, weeks, days or even hours later, regretting it. Often times, its something we can’t return, and that is even worse. Then you have to live with it, loving it a little and feeling guilt about it more and more. But that’s what mistakes are for, right?! I can’t even count the number I’ve made; but as long as we learn a little something along the way, and not repeat said mistakes, you are doing it right!
TURN IT AROUND
There may not be a major circumstance in your life that turns your thinking around. It may be a podcast or YouTube video you listened to (possibly Dave Ramsey, or Suze Orman(if you watched Oprah, you will know her well!) or maybe you are following a blogger like Skye McLain….no matter who it is, maybe something they said, in your social media wanderings, just won’t leave your head. What if you COULD do better? What if you did better with what you have instead of wishing for more? (#ahamoment) What if you stopped borrowing to appear wealthy, and just realized, you ARE wealthy? Focus on the now instead of what might be….hey!!!! That might just be a winner!
CRUNCH YOUR NEW NUMBERS
Kent and I decided we could do so much better. He’s taking such good care of us financially (not to mention as a father and husband) over the past 20+ years, and as the mom and CEO of the household I was doing most of the spending. We never made any large financial decisions without long discussion and communication (like what house, vehicle or project we would spend money on); but I was the day to day.
News flash, did you know you can TOTALLY over spend on the basics; but think you aren’t?! Did you know when you shopped at Target for groceries and bought you and the kids clothes, and new towels and a few cute home decor pieces from Hearth & Hand, that DOESN’T count as grocery spending?! WHAT?! Then again…if it means I might run into this guy….I may just set up camp in the candy aisle…cuz giiirrrrllllllllll! #jtandme
BACK ON TRACK
In December 2017 we went through the ENTIRE years spending to see where our money was going. I was confused why there wasn’t more going into long term savings. We made long term financial goals a couple of years back and progress had slowed down….not good. Not only that, we took only one vacation a year and that was back home to see family, so why did is seem like we could never afford to do any getaways or fun adventures with the family during the rest of the year? Why couldn’t I feel ok about buying a new light fixture for the entry way (again….darn Fixer Upper makes me want to redo the whole dang place!). Once we wrote out the numbers, we sure as heck knew why. We didn’t need any more, we just needed to be WAYYYYYY better with what we had.
ONE MONTH IN – WORKING THE BABY STEPS
January is always that tough month, where Christmas bills can still be lingering (gifts that just keep on costing!) and you just need to go on a spending FREEZE. Fortunately, we came out of December in the black, no lingering costs to spend any January money on. PHEW! We had looked at the ACTUALS of last year and then gave ourselves a lower number as what we were budgeting for in all the categories we could think of based on the previous years spending. My job, was to become a shopping ninja and find a way slash spending, to come in UNDER those numbers to make sure we could then add money to our savings account.
We watched some of Dave Ramsey’s videos and learned what his Baby Steps to Financial Freedom are. I highly recommend you click that link and read them! What we found, with a little tweaking, and alot of discipline, we were further along in the process than we thought!
CUT THE NUMBERS
After being SUPER INTENTIONAL with spending, and really thinking purchases through, we found we easily came in under our budgeted amounts. In fact, I was able to save over $700 on our grocery bill, just by sourcing out different local grocery stores (Aldi and HEB), watching prices a little closer (no I was not extreme couponing either!) and sticking to my list (which means I meal planned for the week and made my grocery list based on THAT). What a gigantic difference THAT made. I may do a whole other blog post on how big of an impact that small amount of effort made for our expenses.
ALLOW FOR VARIATIONS
No month is exactly the same. January, we killed it and were able to put a bunch of money into savings. February, we had company in our home for the first two weeks! You know what that means….alot more groceries! But it was ok, because it was our family, who we only see once a year if they don’t come here, and I am SO HAPPY to host them.
Budgets are super important and definatley get you flexing your discipline muscle; but you can’t get down when you don’t meet the projected spending. Things happen, so it’s good to allow yourself to go through three months with your first budget, then review all of those months, and consider adjusting what you think you need to spend and where. If it’s too strict, you will be upset when you don’t achieve the goal and potentially throw your hands up, because a) depriving yourself sucks, b) you felt like you weren’t allowed to do anything and c) you didn’t see the results you had hoped for.
Budgeting is like a diet. You have to forgive yourself when you sneak that cookie. That cookie tasted SO GOOD! You know it sets you back a bit; but you still have to enjoy the journey. At the same time, budgeting DOES mean thinking before you spend and saying no to things you previously said alot of yesses to. So get back on track knowing 80/20 is way more sustainable than 100/0.
CELEBRATE THE WINS!
Three years ago we were debt free except for our mortgage; but our spending was a little excessive. My 2003 Trailblazer was on it’s last legs, yet I didn’t want to let it go. I’m not fancy when it comes to what I drive. Truthbomb….I care more about what I’m wearing when I step out of the car HAHAHA!!!! (might be an indicator my money gets spent on fashion first…..sighhhhh). We decided we needed a brand new vehicle (WHY I will never know….) and got ourselves back into the life of payments.
By six months in, the novelty had worn off and I was wondering how quickly we could get rid of these stupid, EXPENSIVE payments! (THAT is buyers remorse people). Unless you want to completely take a bath on the value of the vehicle, you just suck it up, pay the payments and live with it. #tookmymoneyforalmostthreeyears
I can’t say for sure what got us so intentional with budgeting again; but I am SO GRATEFUL for whatever it was! After doing so well in January and adding more to savings, we looked at the last item we needed to pay off (aside from our mortgage…..THAT, will take a loonnggggg time), and realized we had the money NOW. So February 19, 2018, just shy of THREE YEARS of payments, we headed to the Ford Dealership and paid what was owing on our 2015 Explorer Sport! YEAH BABY!!! THAT WAS A MAJOR WIN!! And we celebrated with a happy dance for SURE! No more payments. NONE. That puts hundreds of dollars back in our control immediately! Now we are debt free and our spending is IN CHECK! #thatsMYmoney
YOU ARE NEVER IN A PLACE WHERE YOU DON’T HAVE TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY WELL
What I learned in all of this, is we can’t get so caught up in advancing through life. We especially can’t get caught up in making sure everyone around us knows we are advancing in life. You know?? When we make more we automatically think we can and should spend more. Why do we have such a strong desire to live SO FANCY, so upscale and so in debt in the years where we have the most earning potential; but then wonder why we can’t pay part or ALL of our kids college education or retire WHEN WE WANT TO?
If I allow myself to live beyond my means NOW, how will I live later?Because we are so busy showing the world how much we have (and going into debt for it), when we really, really have everything we need to live a comfortable, generous and consistent lifestyle for many, many years. And along with a strong and loving marriage, I want my kids to see that and seek out a life where they know how to respect their money, and make it do all kinds of amazing things for them in their life!
IN THE END…
All that said, live the life YOU want for you and your family. Priorities will not be the same for you as your neighbor, brother or father! You love to travel? THAT is what you are working for! Go without the other frills so you can take trips more often! You love to cook? Set your sights on getting you that chef’s stove, all the kitchen gadgets and all those fancy ingredients to create edible masterpieces and cook as often as you can! FIND WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART HAPPY and create your goals around that. Are you like me and want a fashion budget at the top of your list?! Or maybe you wish you had a fashion budget? The money is quite likely there, you just have to put a name to EVERY dollar and make that happen. You only have one life to live, do it well; but don’t go into unnecessary debt for it either.