I’ll never forget the day that I officially decided to start a budget. I looked at our account online and realized that if all the bills cleared when they were supposed to, we would overdraft. My husband and I quickly canceled his birthday plans so we would get reimbursed for some tickets. That would keep us in the clear until the next paycheck. I rode my typical emotional roller coaster of sad then angry, and then decided to take control. I was done. I was sick of living paycheck to paycheck and not knowing where the money had gone. We had been married for a year and wanted to buy a home. I knew that we were never going to get there at this pace.
I had been a follower of Dave Ramsey for a few years. I was debt snowballing, had saved an emergency fund (which quickly was spent when my car needed repair), and had attempted budgeting several times. I would write down expenses and income, start the month off on a good foot, go over budget a week or so in, forget to log expenses, get frustrated, and throw the paper away. I would definitely say that getting started is easy, following through is the tricky part. At this point, I was desperate to make it work. I realized that the pen and pad method just wasn’t for me, so I researched different apps. I went with the one that Dave created called EveryDollar. It was basic, easy, and accessible. Over two years later, it’s proven to be the best choice I could’ve made.
After a couple of rocky months, something started to change. Money wasn’t “disappearing”. I felt in control for the first time. Any money that was leftover from each category at the end of the month would go into the emergency fund. It actually became fun trying to save, because we could then pay ourselves and watch the account grow. Being able to visualize where the money was going was a game changer. The biggest shock was realizing how much we were spending going out to eat. Even if we were subconsciously aware, seeing that tally was eye-opening. It sort of gets you angry and into the mentality of “I worked hard for this money. I’m not giving it away so easily”.
So on to how this lifestyle change has made my life easier. There are several reasons. First, money management is the number one cause of divorce in the US. Getting on the same page financially has made my husband and I closer as we are working toward the same goal. Secondly, I feel secure and confident when I make decisions about spending. I know how much I can spend and don’t have to wonder or feel guilty about it. Lastly, I don’t have anxiety about money any more. Now, let me make this clear: we are far from well-off. The difference is that we have been able to build a small emergency fund for unexpected expenses and we no longer live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have to worry about when the mortgage is going to clear or if I can buy groceries on a certain day. We still have a long way to go financially, but for the first time we are on the right track and making definite progress!
I’m not being paid to mention Dave Ramsey or EveryDollar. These are the resources that I have utilized to make my life and my family’s life better. No matter your method, I strongly believe that everyone, no matter your income, should have a budget.