You Need A Budget

I am a big fan of having a budget.

I learned how to have one when I was a teenager. My mom would give me a set amount each month for gas, clothes, toiletries and entertainment; and when it was gone, it was gone. I had to figure out how to make my money work and I wasn’t supposed to cross-pollenate the different categories {even though I must admit, there were times that I did. ooops!}. It was very generous of my mom to do that for me considering a lot of parents make their children work for their own money. But there will be a time when I chose to make the same sacrifice for my kids. Why? Because it taught me the fundamentals of dealing with money before I had the stress of having to support myself.  I learned how to pay cash for things and how to save up for the stuff that was expensive but I really wanted.

David and I talked a lot about money before we were married. I even remember helping him to set up a budget so that he could pay off his debt from school and credit cards. He didn’t learn about budgeting until he had made some costly mistakes but thankfully there are always second chances. We currently have no debt (other than our home) and I say that very humbly. I know my mom helped me in so many ways when I was younger to get off on a good foot. I also didn’t have to pay for my education {a huge blessing} and I even got a really nice car when I turned 18 {you can even call me spoiled 🙂 }. Lots of blessings came my way and I am so thankful.

But no amount of money will keep you OUT of debt. Each of us have a responsibility to use our money wisely. I like the saying “you need to be in control of your money and not have your money be in control of you.”  So here at the Farmer household we have some principles that we live by to keep us on track. I thought I would share some of the big ones below:

1.) We always tithe 10% of everything we make

If you believe the way I do, the Bible is very clear that this is one of those non-negotiables. Our money is really not ours and it truly belongs to God. We are to obey His word by giving to him with the first fruits of our labor. We tithe our money before any of it goes into savings or to bills. We believe that by being obedient to God, He will continue to take care of us and bless us 10, 100, or maybe 1000 x more than we could imagine. It’s the sowing and reaping principle. Learn more about that here.  And trust me, even when we weren’t sure we had enough money, we tithed; and I am here to say, we have never been without enough to make it.

2.)We strive to live off one income instead of being dependent on both of us to make ends meet

We lived this way for the first two years of our marriage and were able to save a TON. Then David went into ministry and things got really, really tight. But since we had lived on only one income, we were able to do what God called us to do without going into debt. We lived off my income for a while until we could raise support up here in Denver. Now we are in the process of getting back to only living off David’s income. I say all that to show it isn’t a hard & fast rule like tithing but always our goal.

3.) We live off last month’s salary

Basically whatever we make this month is what we live off next  month. A couple times we had to forsake this principle {especially when I quit my job without another job last year} but again, it is always our goal to get back to that point. That way if something challenging and expensive were to happen in our lives, we know we already have what we need for the next month.

4.)We keep 4-5 months of income in savings {that we do not touch except for emergencies}

By living off only one salary {the best we can}, we are able to save up lots of money for a rainy day. Once we have enough for the 4-5 months, then we can save for fun stuff like a new car, vacations, or other toys.

5.) We use a computer program to help us keep track of what money we have to spend and what money we do spend.

We have used the “You Need A Budget” program since we got married and I can’t sing it’s praises enough. It is VERY user friendly and not that expensive. The company provides great tech support and even when our computer crashed they gave us a new copy for free for our Mac. If you don’t have a program, you definitely should try this one. If you visit their site, they even have a free 7 day trial.

6.) We NEVER buy anything that we can’t pay cash for right now

If you buy something you don’t have the money for, that is the perfect recipe for debt. We. Don’t. Do. It. EVER!  We save up for what we need or may need some day and always end up paying less than if we had financed it.

~

There you have it!

I promise that I didn’t plan to be so long winded in this post.

I really just wanted to share the YNAB software because it has been such a blessing to us. And trust me when I say that the people at YNAB have no idea who I am apart from being one of their satisfied customers. Now it’s your turn, how do you all successfully manage your money? Do you have any good tips? Or good lessons you have learned?  I would love to hear ’em.

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3 thoughts on “You Need A Budget

  1. Those are some great tips, that is so awesome that you all have no debt! I depend on Jose to manage the money because, unfortunately, I am terrible with numbers. I am pretty stingy though. I guess the only set rule I have is, well, not really a rule but a belief :P. I believe you never really (well, most of the time 😉 have to pay full price for anything. So all the clothes we have were purchased on sale. If I want something, I wait until I can find it cheaper somewhere else or it’s on sale.

    Sadly, we have a TON of debt, but it is all school debt. Jose was able to have most of his undergrad paid for by scholarships and grants (thank God for those), but unfortunately I have a ton of school debt, and law school isn’t cheap either so now we have that to :/. I often get overwhelmed by it but then I remember how much of an investment education is. Thankfully we have never gone without, and we have learned that it’s always wise to live below your means (especially with the economic issues our country has faced.).

  2. Amen to all of that! I could pretty much mirror everything you said in this post! Apart from a small student loan, our house is our only debt and we aim to keep it that way. We never got used to living off of two incomes so when the time came for me to quit my job and stay at home, though it was tight, it wasn’t major shock for us. I’ve never heard of that software! We use an Excel program but it’s not super user friendly…I’m going to go check that out!!

  3. Hey Ali, did you know that we use YNAB too?! I can’t remember if we talked about it in the past or not. My mother in law recommended it years ago and we’ve been using it ever since. I just got caught up on our budget this morning. Great program!

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