When it comes to money management, many of us are aware of the importance of monthly budgeting. Creating a budget allows us to develop a spending plan for our money while helping us to identify ways that we can save. It may be easier to stick to a budget when the spending activity is based on one individual.
Image courtesy of sdmania / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
How then do we successfully budget when incomes are combined or shared amongst loved ones? We’ll take a personal look at my transition from managing my own money to budgeting for two using a budgeting tool.
When my husband Tony and I got married, I got rid of my apartment, we opened up a joint checking account and we combined our incomes. Shortly after we funneled our paychecks into a central location, we realized that we were bringing in a somewhat decent amount of income when we added the checks up together. In an attempt not to squander the money away, we decided to figure out how much money we could live on comfortably so that the excess could be allotted for savings.
Tony and I had to sit down and figure out the numbers on paper. Luckily, we had a budgeting tool to show us how much we’re actually spending. At the beginning of the month, we began to budget our finances together. First, we set a budget for each of our fixed expenses. These expenses included rent, cell phone payments, student loans and car insurance. We then took educated guesses to budget for the more variable expenses such as groceries, utilities and gas.
Recording our spending
Throughout the month we recorded what we spent:
Movie Rental: $1.77
Eating Out – Sushi: $37
Groceries week 1: $145
After a month of recording what we were spending, thankfully our budget worksheet revealed that we were in fact spending less than we made, whew!
The grocery bill dilemma
Although we were living within our means, our budget showed that Tony and I were spending way too much money on groceries. When we were single, we each spent about $30 – $45 per week on groceries. As a married couple, we were spending well over $100 combined. The math didn’t add up. As a new wife, I felt the burden of having to come home from work and cook new and exciting meals for my husband each night. It totally stressed me out because I was used to making cereal, sandwiches and frozen veggie burgers for dinner when I lived alone.
Tony and I came together to find solutions to our grocery bill dilemma. I remember sitting down on the couch and literally writing down a meal plan for the week. Getting into an eating routine helped us to find ways to cut back. It also alleviated some of the pressure that I put on myself to be a master chef during the busy weeknights.
One of our biggest money saving tips came from the implementation of bulk slow cooker meals into our diet. Slow cooker recipes are inexpensive – about $9 for all the ingredients. They are filling, nutritious and long lasting. Tony now eats this type of meal for his lunch during the entire workweek.
For Tony and I, budgeting practices have actually strengthened our team building skills during the critical early stages of our marriage. We understand that money is an important part of our union and it can be a source of tension if we aren’t on the same page about our short and long term financial goals. We recognize the importance of selective spending, saving, debt reduction and investing. Using a budgeting tool helps to facilitate conversations about these aspects of our personal finances while holding us accountable for our spending habits.
Sheri Harrison is the co-founder of The Budget School, an online resource center that provides the tools necessary for effective money management. Their budget worksheets, how-to lessons and video tutorials will help you map out a course for your finances so that you can save money, reduce debt and invest. For money saving tips or to get the Ultimate Budgeting Tool visit us at www.thebudgetschool.com.Posted in Budgeting on 02.18.13 with 8 comments.