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?
Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers says
Please share your cable discount secrets! haha. We don’t have cable, just internet, and we pay $45 per month. Goodness! I don’t know what I’m going to do when college football season starts… need to find a deal by then.
I too am big into organization, so it’s a good thing my hubby is too when it comes to finances – otherwise we’d drive each other nuts.
Hooray for college football being around the corner!!!
We called and explained how dissatisfied we were with paying $110 a month. Eventually (it’s always a long process) they sent us to their ‘retention division’, so save time and ask to speak with them directly. The retention division ‘happened’ to have a deal running that they offered to us. It is good for 1 year, but then we’ll just call up again and see what kind of ‘deal’ they have going on at that point.
Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen says
Great post! I am going to have to really buckle down and pay attention to my finances and budget now that I’m taking a less-well-paying (but more smile-inducing I hope?) job. I hope I can manage, as I’m generally very frugal even when I DON’T have to worry!
I read your blog- if anyone can shop for a bargain, it’s YOU! 🙂
Great post! I am so bad at budgeting. I’ve tried mint.com and it just didn’t work for me. Plus my husband makes a different amount each week so it’s super hard to figure it all out. Gives me such a headache. I either need to find a better program or meet with a financial planner!
My husband gets paid monthly and is full commission, so our income differs a lot each month, too. It definitely makes a budget more of a challenge.
We tried Microsoft Money in the past, which some people love, but I found it too complicated. Mint definitely took some time to configure, but I’m kind of obsessed with it now. Hope you find a system that works for you… financial nesting is bound to hit you soon 😉
Sarah for Real says
We are in a similar situation where my husband’s income fluctuates. (Also, I don’t like Mint for security reasons and because I find it overly complicated.)
Instead, we set up a simple Google spreadsheet that we share where we track our net worth. I got the idea here:
This way we can look at the big picture to see that we’re headed in the right direction and it only takes about 5 minutes each month. This seems to work for us because we don’t have as much trouble with the day-to-day spending being out of control. Our difficulty is just knowing we are saving enough and seeing if we can apply more toward paying things off.
Holly @ The Runny Egg says
I love budgeting/finances, etc. Jason and I also combine all of our money — it is so much easier that way (for us at least!) Mint.com is a great resource and we use it as well.
We had to adjust our budget when Jason was laid off — but not too much since thankfully we’ve been living within our means (which was not the case a few years ago!)
Best budgeting tip: be flexible but not too flexible when it comes to adjusting your budget.
Michelle @ The Cooking Life says
Looking forward to reading your monthly grocery budget switch will work! I love to budget but honestly, the last couple of months, I haven’t been great on updating our spreadsheets (we use YNAB – You Need A Budget – system). Plus, we’ve had a few extra expenses this summer. I’m glad the fall semester is starting up – I feel like things will be “regular” again.
That website sounds great! I’m going to check it out now. I go through periods where I try to be really organized about my finances but I always give it up at some point.
Katie H says
The first blogs that I started reading (waaay back in 2005!) were personal finance blogs. I am such a personal finance dork! While I like the concept of mint.com, after using it for a bit I wasn’t the biggest fan. It miscategorized a lot of spending and I didn’t find it as effective as my true personal finance life- pearbudget (http://pearbudget.com). I started using it back when it was free (and I believe there is still a free spreadsheet available) but there is a monthly fee now to use the service. I’d still highly recommend it- it keeps my finances organized and I always hear back immediately from the founder if I have any questions!
Kristin @ eat healthy. be happy. live well says
Honestly, I don’t do a budget per se, but I always check my account before going on a big shopping trip. I know which big bills are coming up and make sure I keep that much in my account. My honey and I don’t have any joint accounts, except a new credit card. We both pay our respective bills and go in together on larger purchases. One day we might get a joint checking account though!
I sort of have a budget for groceries, but I always go over! I figure the healthy foods are worth it and I just cut back elsewhere 🙂
Erin @ The Grass Skirt says
We also used to be blind spenders, but now we pay attention to our budget. And it feels so much better! We’ve used Mint.com in the past and now the Bank of America online banking system. I think the most important thing is to be aware. I might have to call our cable company too though and see what they can do! 🙂
Alex @ The Plum Foodie says
I love this post. It’s ok to be interested in politics!! I’m a political nerd at heart, too! I have a bachelor’s degree in polisci to prove it ;-).
Finances are a HUGE deal to my husband and me. We are very cautious with our spending habits and map out our finances monthly to go over how much we spent and in what areas we spent it on. We have a full-fledged budget for each aspect of our lives (groceries, books, eating out, gas, personal, etc.) and stick to it pretty darn consistently. It helps that my husband’s job is in finance, too, so he really has a grasp for all things related. Because of our careful planning, we are able to live comfortably and that’s so comforting and worth the time and effort that goes into these budget plans.
It’s so important to keep track of your money and where it goes. It’s way too easy to get yourself into trouble by overspending.
Jane Marie says
I absolutely agree that financial transparency is very important in relationship. I can’t imagine what I would do if my husband didn’t have the same money goals as me. Also love Mint.com! They make money management so easy 🙂
we don’t really have a budget…i just kind of keep track on things with online banking. but with some upcoming changes, it will definitely be necessary to tighten up a bit. i’ve played around with mint in the past for a client but may need to start using it personally!
Beautiful wedding picture! I love looking at wedding pictures! I’ve been really interested in starting our financial stuff at mint.com, maybe when I’m home with a baby, eventually, I can finally plug all our information in. It’s so hard for us as a country to say that we don’t “need” something just to get out of debt. I usually keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics.
Jess @atasteofconfidence says
I’m going to be super superficial and only comment on the bachelorette, haha. But she really drives me crazy! I hate how she told JP that she said goodbye to 2 guys to mess w him. Ugh!
Liz @ iheartvegetables says
I use Mint.com! Even though I’m just a single girl (without a family to budget for) it’s still good for me to track my income and expenses! I still live like a college student with my expenses 😉 so most of my paycheck goes to savings! woohooo!
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