Today is Tuesday, which means it’s Financial Peace University day. You may recall that I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts that Tyler and I are participating in Dave Ramsey’s FPU course this fall. I poked fun at it a few times saying that it’s a great way to feel guilty for buying a Mountain Dew, but we’re actually really enjoying it. (Plus, see #2 below for why that Mt. Dew isn’t guilt-inducing now that the budget is in place.)
Note: I’m currently writing this with a space heater a little too close for comfort, warming my knees under the desk. It’s lovely, but if I catch on fire and this post never gets finished, you’ll know why.
Anyway, a few weeks ago we wrote up our official October budget. It was pretty much terrifying writing it all down, seeing how much money we don’t have. It was also difficult—not just emotionally, but logically. We just moved into this apartment, our first apartment, and have literally no idea how much to budget for some of our bills and typical expenses. What a struggle. But we did get it all figured out, and we haven’t even went over-budget on anything yet! (Granted, our food budget is getting a little slim, but we still have at least 6 meals worth of meat in our freezer, plus 2 frozen pizzas, and a box of pasta. That’s 9 dinners and we only have 11 days left including tonight. So we should be fine on the grocery budget as well.) Even though it was kind of stressful trying to figure everything out, it feels so nice to have it settled. I don’t know why I avoid dealing with issues until they’re super overwhelming. It feels amazing to have everything figured out and under control (Note to self: next is your student loans. Get yourself into gear.)
Let me tell you why having a budget has made things easier (and more joyful, of course) in the Salisbury household.
- Less money arguments: We’re really only talking about money once a month, at least when it comes to planning. At the beginning of the month, the budget is set. After that, we just stick to the plan—no real need to discuss.
- More freedom: I realize that when you hear the words freedom and budget they seem like opposites, but in some ways they go hand in hand. One of the things that we think is CRUCIAL to work into a budget is what we call “blow money”. This is money you can spend on anything, at any time, with no guilt. Tyler and I both have our own separate “blow money” allowance that we keep in cash, in our wallets, separate from any other money. This is a beautiful way to eliminate arguments. I don’t have to feel guilty when I want that Mountain Dew anymore, and Tyler can stop by Dunkin Donuts or download that new album without worrying about it. (The one exception to this rule is that there are certain things you need to consult with the other person about, even if it’s simply your blow money you’re saving up and using. Example: a puppy. First of all, because our apartment doesn’t even allow pets. Second of all, if it’s a purchase that will have a long-term impact, we’re obviously going to be sensible about it and talk it over.)
- Less control-freak tendencies: This goes hand-in-hand with #2. I have a habit of being a little panicky and controlling when it comes to things like this. I need to make sure I know we have enough money. I’m freaking out over here. We’ll blame it on the fact that I have an Accounting degree. With the budget, I don’t have to worry about it. I can let go of that fear and that controlling reflex and just enjoy life. When Tyler comes to work with an iced coffee, I don’t feel the need to shoot him a dirty look for spending money on something he could’ve made at home. Trust me, Tyler is enjoying this part. And so am I—I really don’t like that side of me. Who does? The budget makes it so that I don’t feel that way anymore.
- No regret purchasing: If it’s in the budget, we buy it. No buyer’s remorse. We just get it and then love it. For example, when we accepted this apartment before we had permanent decisions, we knew sacrifices would have to be made. We were going to have to go without some things at first, too, because spending the extra money on a coffee table, a toothbrush holder, a pretty shower curtain, or a garbage can was just something we had to learn to do without. This probably sounds crazy to you, but this is how tight our money situation is right now. However, when we designed the budget, we specifically worked in a “household” category. It’s from this category that we’re allowed to purchase those home items. It’s a small budget of course, but Tyler loved the fact that we could get ice cube trays (It’s the little things), and I’m looking forward to ordering pictures for my soon-to-come gallery wall.
- An attitude of gratitude: Last but not least, we are more appreciative of what we have. The harder you have to work for something, the more precious it is! And on top of that, the 4 factors above make it so that when we buy something, we can truly enjoy it.
These might all sound like the same thing over and over to you, but how about we use the word interdependent to make us both feel better?
Order is so much more joyful than chaos when it comes to your finances. And it doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth in order to feel like you have financial stability. Sure, sacrifices may have to be made… but there is joy to be found in the journey.
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This post is a part of the series 31 Days of Finding Joy. Interested? Click here.