After a hectic few months of being married (since Oct 26), my wife and I finally
sat down to write out our budget. I get a lot of comfort out of having a budget
and feeling like I’m incontrol of my money. This was not my first time making a
budget, but it made me think about how budgeting has really changed my life.
It’s shown me what I apparently care about and allowed me to adjust accordingly.
Who needs a budget?
Growing up I was always considered a “smart” kid. I took great
pleasure in this and thought pretty highly of myself. When I was a junior in
high school I was making roughly $300/week. Being as I grew up in the middle of
nowhere in Ohio this was a pretty substantial amount of money. I saved none of
this money. I had always been a little over confident about college, knowing
even in junior high that I would get a full-ride to college, so why did I need
to save money? Thankfully, I had been correct and my scholarships would pay for
college. I didn’t need a budget, money was going to find it’s way into my bank
Loans aren’t that bad…
In college I was able to see that I was really lucky that I didn’t need to pay
for any of my schooling, but it quickly became apparent that I didn’t have
enough money for everything. I had a Summer where I lived off of rice and an
occasional egg, but I hadn’t taken out a loan so I was feeling pretty good about
that. I didn’t tell my parents that I was struggling, the only person that knew
was my girlfriend at the time (now wife). She was pretty concerned for my health
and loaned me some money against my will. After some persuading, I decided that
it wouldn’t be a big deal if I took out a small loan in the short term to cover
living expenses since I knew I would be getting my first paid internship in a
few months. So began my reign of stupidity.
Where’s this money coming from? Who cares.
Shortly after that I had gotten my first programming job which payed $14/hr,
which wasn’t too bad and I could pretty easily pay for my living expenses with
that type of income. That’s the key right there, I had enough to cover all of
my expenses at that point without any loan other than the small one that I had
taken out when I had no job. I proceeded to not cancel that loan… each
semester more money would just pour into my bank account and I didn’t even care
where it was coming from.
Full-Ride = 22k in debt
After those few years were finished I ended up having $22,000 in debt. I was so
ashamed that it nearly broke up my relationship with my fiancée, who just so
happens to have a degree in finance. Thankfully, as part of what we thought we
should do before we got married we read The Total Money Makeover
together and she helped me make my first budget.
Telling each and every dollar that came in where to go was a very freeing
experience. She laughs sometimes to see the change that this has made in me.
Budgeting seems obvious to me now and I question people who don’t think about
it. I sometimes forget that I was one of those people just a year ago.
Having now been on a budget for a year, I’m amazed at how different I feel and
act. I used to blow tons of money on things that were simply for entertainment,
even though I had plenty to do and never did anything good with my money. I’ve
since cut down my spending to the lowest it’s ever been and Kendra and I are
knocking out our debt faster than we really thought possible. We’re also able to
give generously to people and causes that actually need it.
Jesus states in Luke 12:34:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This is completely true. If you’re not in control of you’re money how can you be
in control of your heart?
For anyone who would like to start budgeting I would definitely recommend
reading Dave Ramsey’s book. This book really helped me to just
understand money as a thing and was a big inspiration. If you’re not really one
for books or you’ve already read it, then I would suggest grabbing the
monthly cash-flow plan that he provides and start writting out your budget.
If you’re on the Mac I’ve translated this into a Numbers spreadsheet
that will handle the calculations for you (Kendra and I use this).
If you use that spreadsheet, I would encourage you to fill it
out and then save it as a template so you can create one for each month and
start from scratch with a blank set of transactions. Good luck!