A few weeks back, Mark and I finally sat down and made a monthly budget.
To think, it only took us 5 years!
We made an appointment. Then we both forgot about it. Then, we sat down, a week late, and knocked it out.
My news workplace offered a Dave Ramsey (the ‘We’re debt free!’ guy) course to for free, so I signed up. One of the first thing Ramsey recommends is to get on the same financial page as your spouse.
Then he tells you to save a thousand bucks in an emergency fund and make sure you agree as to what constitutes an emergency.
He warned his viewing audience that that would mean a money fights.
At our first budget meeting, Mark and I didn’t really fight. OK, maybe we had a disagreement, sure, but fight’s too strong a word.
We knocked out a budget. Then we “discussed” the concept of “fun” money. We agreed we could each have $100 a month to put toward fun of our choosing.
“My fun’s almost been spent,” I confessed. “I bought two winter tops for work.”
We started to bicker about whether clothes should be a budgeted necessity or considered “fun.”
Then we realized something. We had already made a budget. We had forgotten to add any “fun” at all to the budget. So, we were fighting about dollars that didn’t actually exist.
I remembered I had $50 from my new waitressing job stashed in my wallet. I impulsively got a second job because Dave Ramsey told me to do it.
I mean, it’s not like I “needed” winter shirts. I wasn’t going to freeze without two brand spanking new stylish shirts.
“I guess this is yours,” I told Mark.
We plugged it into the Ramsey budget as “Fun-Mark.”
We next realized Mark had become my pimp. I turned over my cash earnings to him.
All in a day’s work. While I’m out slinging Spaten Dunkels and Bitburgers after my 9 to 5, he’s feeding and putting to bed two adorable-yet-high-maintenance under 4’s. Ya know who pays him? No one. Unless you count as currency Eli’s poo poos and Laila’s schemes to stay up later. Then we’re rich.
The good news is that we agree on core financial things, though Mark is more of a
cheapscape minimalist than I am.
What constitutes an emergency? We agreed on three main things: car break down, appliance breakdown, and a medical emergency. And, ya know, natural disasters, but that’s a given.
Ramsey said it’s fine to keep saving once you’ve got a K in the pocket if you want something like furniture, etc. etc.
We want a vacation. I don’t care that we haven’t paid down our college loans and buddy’s medical bills. We need something to look forward to. Perhaps New Mexico. Or the ocean!
I asked Mark what was on his “savings wish list.” I found out one of his dreams was to fix our van door. Yes, we dream big. We have a trashy-looking door I wrecked while I raced to the ATM to get cash for our very first nanny, imposter Mary Poppins. Imposter Mary Poppins faked a lice scare on my daughter’s birthday to get me home early so she could quit. I wanted to pay her extra because I didn’t realize she was a psycho Mary Poppins imposter from hell. Thus, I raced to the ATM. Bolts in the ATM lane scraped the hell out of the van door. It has remained that way since. Classy.
We’d also like a new/used car – a little mini SUV. Something safer than the tin can that is our second car.
Budgeting was a good exercise for us. The course I’m taking makes it easy, with an online budget tool that forces you to give each of your dollars a destination.
It also forced us to review our spending for the first week of the month. We need to stretch
a little a lot better, ’cause we blew half of our food and supply budget in a week.
There is room for improvement, but it’s a start!
Having a kid with a chronic disease shook us alive in a lot of ways. One of those ways has been the way Mark and I think about money. Instead of thinking things like “Oh, s***, we’re outta money!”we are making plans and stashing dollars. Along those lines, I attempt to write about money each Monday for a series called Monday morning money madness, which is usually in place by midnight. Check back in! Has the Ramsey way worked for you? Do you have any issues with the program? Any tips for dumpin’ debt and saving more? Let me know!