Who watched The Bachelorette last night? Is it the lamest season ever, or what? Ashley gets on my nerves. But that isn’t my point…
Who watched President Obama and Speaker Boehner interrupt The Bachelorette and give their speeches on the debt ceiling debate? Once I got over the interruption right when Constantine was dumping Ashley (;)), I found it quite interesting.
A little known fact about me, is that I actually really enjoy discussing politics. I realize this is a sign that I have officially turned into an adult, but I can’t help it- I find it fascinating. That being said, I tend to keep my viewpoints off of the blog to avoid any unnecessary conflict.
So without diving into my political beliefs, I will say one thing that I liked from Speaker Boehner’s speech is his reference to small businesses and how they must sometimes make tough decisions in order to balance their budgets. In other words, businesses must live within their means, and I agree the US should learn to do the same, even if it’s going to sting.
Along the same lines, we’ve done our own budget overhaul here at the Dixon household over the past week. We used to pay close attention to our budget, but over the past few months, we’ve just been flying by the seat of our pants, which eventually makes me feel stressed out and reckless. What can I say, I like organization, having a plan and being in control. In fact, I’ve enjoyed our financial check up so much, that I wanted to share with you what we’ve done.
With Baby D due to arrive soon, consider this my financial nesting 🙂
We signed up for a free online program called Mint.com, which allows you to link all your financial information into the system, including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit card transactions, large debts like mortgages, property, etc. It also uses all this information to calculate your net worth. I love this system because it puts everything together in one place and allows you to easily see your full financial picture.
Since we got married, Hubbs and I use a system in which everything is ‘ours’. We share the same checking account, savings, credit cards, etc. This works well for us because we have very similar financial goals and beliefs. I can’t tell you how much of a blessing it is to have similar financial outlooks in a marriage. We have never had a fight about money. Ever. We discuss what is important to each of us short term and long term, then devise a plan to make it happen.
Mint.com also allows you to set budgets for individual spending categories, like restaurants, home improvement, gas, baby supplies, etc. Additionally, you can create goals, like paying off a mortgage or a student loan, and it keeps you updated on your progress, so your goal is always top of mind. Since it is an online program, that also has apps for the iPhone and Droid, we always have our budgets with us. If we’re tempted to go grab dinner out, we can quickly check how much we have left in our monthly ‘eating out’ budget and decide if it’s worth it or not. I love having this information at my finger tips!
One big difference that I’m anxious to start figuring out is our grocery budget. I’ve discussed how I shop for groceries each week, and usually do so within a weekly grocery budget. However, now we’ll be switching to a monthly budget. I am excited about this new method because I think it will help things run more smoothly. For example, if I need to restock oil, flour and frozen goods, I may surpass by weekly grocery budget, but the next week may be low since I’ll just need accessory foods.
It takes a little time and energy to set up a financial tracking system, but the peace I feel now is incredibly worth it. I feel inspired to make big steps towards accomplishing our goals and challenged to see if we can cut corners to save a bit more each month. It’s amazing the money we’ve already saved by examining our bills more closely instead of paying them blindly. We cut our cable bill from $110 down to $30 a month by calling and and asking them for a discount. I was able to see I was paying for 2 business phone lines, and now have cut one from our monthly expenses. We were able to clearly see how much we spend on household utilities, which led me to turning our thermostat up 1 degree (every little bit helps, right??).
In a time when our nation’s financial environment is on the rocks, I found it incredibly empowering to take an introspective look at what we can do as a family to be in control of our own financial future.
Do you budget your finances?
What’s your best budgeting or financial tip?