Have you ever taken a financial or budgeting class? Maybe as part of your church or through a budgeting program that you paid for?
Did you go over the ‘4 walls of budgeting’ and learn how to focus on bills and getting out of debt? We did. We listened to budgeting/money radio shows, listened to the podcasts, went to the classes, had a financial consultant look at our finances and … it still wasn’t working for us.
Seriously, we couldn’t figure out why the spreadsheets and family budget meetings which worked for everyone else were not working for us! I decided to sit down to figure out why budgeting wasn’t working for us and to figure out what WILL work for us. Let’s look first at why ‘normal budgeting’ wasn’t working for us…
1st off – Our income varied week to week and day to day. Working in gig work and side hustles, it is always a challenge to make sure the income is consistent (check out THIS blog on my budget principles for side hustlers). As such, a budget based off 2 paychecks a month was not making sense with our daily or monthly deposits.
2nd – My husband felt that categorizing necessities vs wants (also called the 4 walls) made him feel trapped. He felt the standard budget was saying that we couldn’t have our internet, phones and going out money. He also said that when we looked at our budget, it made him feel that he wasn’t working hard enough or making enough money.
3rd – The pressure my husband felt to make more income was real, and this was causing our marriage to breakdown. He already worked 70+ and I was working 40 hours a week. On top of that, the budget was saying we didn’t have enough money? How do we work that out?
4th – We refused to go down to bare necessities. We knew we should cut our going-out budget and pay our debt with that money. But we didn’t want to. We needed a break, we needed money to spend on gifts and people. Yes, we wanted to use our hard-earned income on something besides bills.
Sound familiar? Join our FREE budget guide email course here, and you can customize it to fit your personal needs.
OKAY… what did we do to make the money work for us?
It is essential to realize that if a budget is going to work, you need to make it work for YOU! You don’t work for the bills, the money or the debt, you have to change your mindset, so your finances are working on your terms. Budgeting isn’t one size fits all, we had to figure out what was lacking and how to fix those issues. So, that is what we started doing, one small change at a time. But the changes were MORE RELATIONAL and LESS FINANCIAL.
Make The Goals Visible.
We started from places of different expectations, different ideals and no communication skills. We tried to fix our communication issues and difference in goals by going to financial classes, but it still came back to we could not talk about money without a fight. The turning point? It took lots and lots of prayers, but, one day, I tried something new – we made a financial dreams’ poster, and we put it on our bedroom wall. We wrote the shopping list and bills on a white board on the refrigerator. We made them visual and placed them where we couldn’t miss them. Somehow, it started helping.
Need an idea on how to make your vision board? Subscribe to my email course on how to create your vision and budget for your family’s finances.
Split The Workload.
Here is what I mean – hubby is amazing at bringing in extra income, I mean, I could tell him we were short on the income, and he could make it happen somehow. I, on the other hand, am able to cut expenses to make the bills fit the current income. I can shop on a budget, spending 1/3 of what he would spend on the food. I can figure out ways to decrease bills and gas usage, so that he doesn’t have to work extra. It took us 2+ years to figure out that we could work together WITH OUR STRENGTHS, instead of fighting each other because our strengths are different. When we learned to work together, we stopped fighting.
Be Transparent and Trusting.
I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, and maybe it is. Here is what I mean. I used to bug my husband about over-spending when he would buy the groceries. I had to stop nagging him and trust his grocery shopping. On the flip side, he had to learn to be transparent and call me when he really DID need my help to keep the cost lower. The same principle has had to be applied to our spending, our separate personal accounts, our business accounts, our savings and even when paying bills. We haven’t even had a money disagreement in months, because we are trusting each other to make good choices, while at the same time, we are being transparent when the other asks about a financial decision we made.
Find The Budget Leaks.
Now, we are getting to the financial side of budgeting. Every week, we were working 50+ hours EACH to have nothing to show for it at the end of the week, we couldn’t figure out where the money was going. It seemed to be evaporating. We were having budget leaks.Budget leaks happen when you aren’t actually tracking all income and spending. Once you start tracking the finances in real time, it is very easy to find the leaks.
It took only 2 days of honesty and transparency to see the problem was the cash spending that we weren’t tracking. And, yes, both of us were creating the problems. When you use $200 in cash/food spending a week, no wonder the income feels short at the end of the month. We decided to budget this spending in, so it was no longer negatively impact the budget. Remember, budgeting is a plan and if you plan to eat out, then you won’t be caught off guard when you use the money as you were going to use the money anyway.
Personalize Your Budget.
Budgeting is a guide, but it needs to be personalized. Our current budget plan is called the “No-spreadsheet-no-weekly-meeting-percentages-based-less-stressed-free-styled-goal-reaching” budget. I know, that doesn’t sound like the budget of someone who is a financial consultant, but that is how we work. That is how we have personalized our budget.
If you want our ACTUAL budget where you can just plug in your numbers, click here to join our email class as we teach you how to make your personalized budget using our principles.
At this point, I know I will never, ever try to go back to the way the financial gurus and classes taught us to handle money. If they, if ANYONE, had taught us how to work through issues and to work together, we wouldn’t have needed months of learning finances just to end in frustration and constant stress. It took forever for us to learn that it isn’t us against each other, it is us against the bills. I wish we had been taught that a difference in the way we think and to work together to make a powerful team.
NOW, we finally know how to be successful with our budget and our finances have turned around as we work together. I can’t wait to here how your budget works for you once you get the hang of personalizing it for your needs. Leave a comment letting us know the name you picked for your personalized, working, goal reaching budget.
Still want more amazing information on budgeting and finances? Check out these blogs!
Yes, I include affiliate links in all my blogs, it gives me the chance to stay home with my little one. I get paid a little each time you click and buy from the included links. Thanks for helping our dream of being a full-time blogger come true! ~ Lydia Y-S.