I love budgets. Let me say that again for emphasis – I LOVE BUDGETS. My wife calls me a budget nerd. Whenever someone utters the word budget, my eyes light up. Actually, this has never happened because no one really likes to discuss budgets. When it comes to finances there is nothing more important than having a detailed, budget. I know it’s not the sexiest subject in the world (I know my man J. Money would disagree), but to me, it’s one of the most important.
I know, I know. I’m a huge nerd. Here are five reasons why I think Budgets are Awesome:
1. A Budget is a Plan for Your Money
We spend most of our waking lives working so we can make enough to provide for our families. So why wouldn’t you want to optimize what that money is doing? A budget is simply a plan for your money. When you’re in complete control of your finances, you’re telling your money what to do. You’re not wondering at the end of the month where all your money went.
2. You Give Yourself a Raise
Budgeting creates awareness in your spending habits – once you’re more aware of where your money is going, you spend it more wisely. By being aware of our spending, it felt like we gave ourselves a raise as all the money that might be spent frivolously was saved and spent for more important purposes. While something simple like going out to eat every day during lunch might feel like chump change, that $10 each day over the course of a month would be $200 a month! I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend $200 funding my daughter’s college than going out to eat everyday.
3. Saving for the Future
Now that we are budgeting, I’m prepared for what the future may bring us. Irregular expenses such as taxes and insurance no longer feel like a big hit in our bank accounts because we’ve been slowly saving for each expense in our budget. Honestly, I don’t even feel it anymore – I just pay it when it’s due. We have a huge tax bill that we have to pay in March and money is already set aside for this. We started and fund regularly a 529 College Savings Plan for our daughter – and what we put in it would definitely not be possible without our budget. I’ve also been able to increase our contributions into our retirement accounts and even started to pay a little extra on our mortgage each month so that we could pay our house off early.
4. Budgeting is Liberating
When most people think of the word budget, they think boring and restricting. To me, it’s the opposite. Budgeting is liberating. I don’t feel like we’re missing out at all if we don’t spend our money like we used to – going out and buying whatever we wanted. If anything, it makes us value the things and experiences we spend our money on even more. You can still buy whatever you want (as long as it’s in the budget). And if something is not in the budget? You make it part of the budget. I bought a full priced iPhone 6 for Glady, and I was able to justify that expense by saving for it for a few months within our budget. *(Non popular opinion alert – buying a full priced phone is cheaper than buying a subsidized phone on contract – to be discussed in future post)
5. A Budget Made Our Marriage Better
Before my wife used to handle the finances because she didn’t fully trust me with our money. Shoot, at the time I wouldn’t have trusted myself either! I used to spend and spend without thinking – buying whatever I wanted and not worried about saving. My wife was the saver – she hoarded and hoarded money. To this day, I don’t know how we saved enough to put 20% down on our house. I didn’t even know we had that much money in our account – that’s how bad I used to be with money.
When I took over the finances and we started budgeting, our relationship benefited as a result. There’s a lot more communication about how our money is being used. We hold monthly budget meetings before each month so we can plan not only the month, but our future ahead. Budget meeting time isn’t the most fun time of the month for both of us – but it gets us on the same page. It was a big deal for my wife to give up control of the finances to me, but now I see that she trusts me completely when it comes to our money. She saw that I had bigger goals for our family than to simply live paycheck to paycheck or have just enough money to be comfortable.
I could go on and on about the joy of budgets, which I’m sure I’ll get to sometime in the future. It took me 33 years for me to realize that budgets are awesome, and I wish it was something I knew when I was 6.
When you budget, not only are you prioritizing your spending, you are prioritizing your life.