Here are some tips for the budget:
- Prepare (see part one). The more you prepare, the more realistic it is likely to be and the more likely you will be successful.
- Be patient. It’s going to take a few months to work it out.
- Make use of resources available to you:
- Online banking
- Mint.com (for a free solution, this is a wonderful tool)
- Dave Ramsey’s Website (and books)
- Software you may already have but just aren’t using (many computers once came with financial software, MS Office has some budget templates, etc.)
- Work together with your spouse on every aspect of the budget. Not just the “how much to put where” but especially “why are we doing this in the first place”
- Be flexible with your spouse. You both have to be. One major cause for budgets failing is when one person in the household isn’t “bought-in.” They won’t buy in if they don’t feel that their opinion actually matters.
- Consider using an “envelope system” where you put money for each specific subcategory into an envelope and you spend money from that envelope only on those specific items.
- Revisit your budget frequently. Several times a week at first. Follow the budget daily.
- Consider getting together with another family who is trying to do the same thing & use each other for support.
- Forget to include some “buffer” money. I call this my “blow money.” If you’re too tight with your budget, you’re making it hard to actually live life.
- Forget to include expenses that don’t occur monthly (oil changes/auto maintenance/tires, taxes, professional fees, etc.)
- Fight over the budget. You’re going to need to work together on the budget. Money in marriages has a stressful effect, but it has to be dealt with. Both parties need to come into budget making negotiations with an open mind.
- Wait until the end of the month to look at your spending. If you make the budget, you need to follow the budget.
- Beat yourself up if you don’t get it “right” immediately. Instead, expect this to be a process. It’s going to take some time to get it right and get to a point where you can “stick to it.”
Personally, I’ve been working at this for 2 years (not coincidentally, I’ve been married just about 2 years). Yes, 2 years is all. I’m a doctor and you’d think I’d be smarter than that. But I would suggest that I know more high income earners who do NOT budget than ones who do. And I promise you that’s not a good thing. In that two years I’ve made a lot of progress, but still have a lot of room to improve. A lot of the things that you learn through a “budget” are really more about communication with your wife. Working things out so the budget works for the whole family is the toughest part of the whole business. A single person has it easy. 100% control and 100% vision. But once you add another person into the mix, and then children, the complexity goes up a tremendously.
But it’s all the more important because of that – there’s so much at stake.
Have any tips that are helping you stick to your budget? Leave a comment and share it with everyone!