Budgeting.

Austin and I had to have a really difficult pre-wedding conversation yesterday, about budgeting.

I think it’s really cute and funny to be poor and subsist soley on Ramen and Diet Mountain Dew for college, but I’m out a few years, trying to build a life for me and my husband-to-be, and we would be complete idiots if we didn’t have the very difficult conversation about money.

I think naturally, money is just a really difficult and uncomfortable topic to talk about.  Then, throw in the fact that I don’t make very much of it, and Austin makes more than enough, and it makes for some learning curve and growing pains.

Because I make so little, I’ve gotten comfortable being a little sloppy with my spending.  As long as I can make my sort of “required” bills, I don’t worry about a ton else.  But that can’t work forever.  Things happen.  Transmissions go out.  Sometimes you jam your thumb (side eye).  Sometimes something just unexpected comes up.  And it makes me extremely uncomfortable to not have some sort of cushion or nest egg built up at the point that I thought I would.

So, a few steps I’m taking to take some more charge of my finances?

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  • I’m using Mint to keep track of/analyze my finances.  I almost dread when I open Mint up, but it’s necessary, I think, to keep track of what’s going on.  From Mint, I’ve gathered a few things.
  • I really need to chill out on the coffee.  Like it’s really not even funny, I have to chill out.  As of this month, I’ve spent $40 on Starbucks, and a few more dollars at McDonald’s and Bruegger’s on coffee-related items.  I need to come up with a plan to still get my caffeine, but to forgo a few trips to Starbucks.  Realistically, I’d like to limit my outside coffee budget to about $25/month, which can feasibly be done if I skip the fancier drinks and just go with americanos and flavor them to my linking.
  • I’m awesome with brown-bagging the lunch, but I need to chill on errant trips to the Teeter when I feel inspired to cook something weird.  My food spending is a little higher than it need to be. 
  • Switch to cash for food.  No more swipey swipey for me. 
  • By the end of this week, I need to call the awesome folks down at the student loan place, and figure out how much I’m going to be paying once we get married and combine the incomes.  It’s gonna hurt, but the bigger the monthly payment, the faster I can be free of that debt. 
  • Long term?  I gotsta make more money!  I’m keeping the eyes peeled for job opportunities that will afford me (hee hee) more wiggle room.

I have to admit, I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing, and I feel like a total idiot for not knowing some of this budgeting stuff already, but what are some of your best responsible spending and money saving tips?

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8 thoughts on “Budgeting.

  1. I’m with you on the student loans- hopefully going to have then gone by next year sometime. With the student loan place, I wouldn’t say you would have to call and discuss adjusting payments (also just in case anything may happen down the line), but what I do is on a monthly basis is if I have more cash then I put more towards it (some months I may not have extra to put down). Brown bad lunch is something I do a lot (A good way of doing things that to is to just make extras for dinner knowing you may have leftovers- lets face it, if you are buying something like chicken for 1-2 dollars per pound having leftovers of that is still cheaper then say buying something like coldcuts (healthier as well).

  2. I took a Financial Peace University (FPU) class from Dave Ramsey last year. It was really great. The class is about $90 (cost includes books and materials) but it is really worth it. He gives advice on spending and investing that makes you back the cost of the class in a couple of weeks. Using cash instead of cards is also a great idea because it is harder to spend cash than swipe – the money feels more real. Trust me on this, find a FPU class in your area. Lots of churches sponsor them.

  3. I concur about trying to avoid money discussions. Getting automatic withdrawals from my pay check into say a retirement account, where I never see the money, works for me. Loans are never fun, but trying to do a bit above the required payment or double it really cuts things down fast. Those are about the only two tricks beyond packing your own lunch, snacks, etc. that come to mind.

  4. I concur about the FPU class, that got me on the right track for sure. And even though I don’t follow all of his principles anymore, I’m still in much better financial shape than I was before I had all that knowledge.

  5. I absolutely love Mint and check it all the time. Unfortunately, I am not the greatest as budgeting and could use a lesson or two on it. But I also am super cheap so I don’t really spent a lot of money anyways.

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