Over the weekend I bought Valentines for my family. Those are the first of the many gifts that I will buy this year. Budgeting helps me enjoy gift giving and helps me give more meaningful gifts.
The budgeting category of gifts can be challenging. It really is a subcategory that requires more planning. It’s not like my phone bill category that I allocate money and then pay it. Gifts need their own detailed plan within the budget plan.
Gifts and I have a love/hate relationship. I love giving gifts - especially when I find the “perfect gift” that will mean a lot to the person who is receiving it. Long before the Internet, I remember ordering gifts by phone. My sister and I were watching TV and saw an infomercial for a classical rock CD. She got excited and said she wanted it, so I sneakily wrote down the phone number and ordered it. Her eyes lit up when she opened it. That was so cool! I also love receiving gifts - especially surprises. I hate when I feel obligated to give a gift and can’t find one. In the past, I felt like I need to give someone a gift at Christmas because they gave me one, instead of graciously accepting what they gave. I’m trying to eliminate giving out of obligation, but I admit it is still a struggle.
Budgets make gift giving fun because it helps you avoid feeling regrets or other bad feelings. Here are steps to create your giving plan for this year:
Leave some flexibility in your gift budget. I’ve realized that there are some gifts that I’ll want to give that I can’t predict. I leave some flexibility in my budget for the baby showers, wedding showers, and graduations which will inevitably come up. We budget $20 a month to our miscellaneous “giving” category, so that we have some flexibility to give. Including this has been key to our gift budget.
Personalize your gift giving category. Make it work for you. When I give small gifts like the Valentines that I bought, I include them in my groceries. I keep it simple if it is minor, but for big gifts, I plan them out. There is no right or wrong way as long as it is your way! Just figure out what your way is. I learned to do what is right for my family.
Around our 10-year anniversary, I started to feel pressure to go on a big trip. When I thought about why I felt that way, I realized it was because my cousin and his wife had just posted pictures from their 10-year anniversary trip, but we didn’t have the money budgeted for that and didn’t even really want to do that. So, we didn’t. It’s cool that my cousin wanted to do that and had a great time. I was able to feel happy for them and feel content that we didn’t spend money we didn’t have on a trip we didn’t really want to do. By personalizing your gift budget, you give the way you want to give and can feel content.
Plan to save for the gifts that you can predict. Many of the big gifts that we give are predictable, like Christmas and birthday gifts. All of my family’s birthdays fall in the first 7 months of the year. I like this, but I have to plan for it. Some years I save throughout the year for birthdays and Christmas. This year, I don’t have the money saved, so I’m budgeting birthday money for the first six months. My husband is paid bi-weekly. I figured out when the 3rd paychecks of the month will fall, and designated those to go towards Christmas this year and birthdays for next year.
There are a lot of ways to save for gifts. Look at your personal situation to figure out how to save for those. Would it work best to put it all away at once or save every month? If you are self-employed and have a busy season, it could make sense for you to save for all your gifts during that time. Wasatch Peaks has a Christmas Club Account and Budgeter Accounts that could be a great tool to do this. I have used a spreadsheet or budgeting software to make electronic envelopes and set aside the money for birthdays so that I don’t spend it. Thinking through these details has relieved so much stress.
Don’t just give because you feel obligated. When I do this, I feel bad afterward. My mother-in-law asked us not to give her anything for Mother’s Day except a homemade card. This was very hard for me because I love her so much and really wanted to give her a gift. She knew this and told Ty that she would be mad at me if I did something. I learned a lot from this. If we can think of something she would enjoy, like pictures of our family, we give them, and she graciously accepts them.
Express love through gifts. We can’t buy love, but we can buy gifts, and if done in the right way, they can help express love and strengthen relationships. When we were dating, Ty made me a DVD with songs to go with it. He also gave me a watch. The DVD meant a lot to me because it was so thoughtful. And after 15 years, I still have the watch (it just needs batteries). These are gifts that last. Since that time, I remember only one other Valentine's gift. Instead of focusing on Valentine's Day, we try to show love all the time. It’s so fun to pick up a favorite treat for my husband while I’m at the store. We aren’t anti-Valentine's Day - if you buy the heart balloons, big stuffed teddy bear, and heart shaped chocolates, that’s cool with us! My husband has gone to Walmart the night before Valentine’s Day for entertainment. He loves to watch dazed shoppers searching for a gift.
Give what you can afford to give. Often, the best gifts are the gifts that mean the most to the receiver. These gifts are heartfelt, and not because they are expensive. They are often super simple and cheap, but require understanding what would mean the most to the receiver.
Almost 2 years ago, I attended a youth conference with a group of youth and adults. We got to know each other really well on that trip. One of the leaders served as our cook. At lunch time one day, he found out that I love eating the ends of the bread. On the way home from this youth conference, I found out that my husband had be fired unexpectedly and without cause. This was an emotionally hard time for us. We really needed support as Ty & I clung to each other and our young family. One morning soon after, I opened my door and on the porch was a bag of bread heels! I knew who had left them. I’m sure that this unconventional gift that didn’t cost much more than the trip down to the bread store. Most people wouldn’t get emotional or appreciate a bag of leftover bread heels, but that gift is one of the most thoughtful, unique, and meaningful gifts I have ever received. Tears come as I think of the kindness of that dear mentor!
Gifts can be a major or a minor budgeting expense. It’s up to you! Budgets are personal. You can make your gift budget as small or as large as you want it to be.
I have received a lot of gifts over the past 4 decades and I really appreciate those gifts. Budgeting has improved my gift giving! It makes it less stressful and more fun. The work it takes to create gift budgets has been so worth the reward.
In 2006, my sister got married. On the day before the wedding, I was asked to run a few errands to pick up some last minute items for her reception. I bought some music. I also bought a cardboard cutout of President Bush (which we turned into a cutout of my brother who was unable to attend). Lastly, I bought some decorations. A few days after the wedding, I checked my account and saw THREE overdraft fees for $25 each, which totaled $75. When I had made those purchases I knew that I had money but didn’t realize that it was in our savings account and not our checking account. The overdraft fees cost much more that the items I purchased.
First is to plan (aka budget) for parties. Because it was my sister’s wedding, I really hadn’t planned to spend money besides her gift. By planning, you can avoid costly fees and spending hangovers/aches. It was nice of me to want to help out and run the errands for my mom who was very busy, but I should have made sure that I could afford them or honestly said that I couldn’t.
If I could afford them, I needed to make sure that I had the money in my checking account. The items I bought were not that important for the party. We could have gone without them or my mom could have paid for them.
Secondly, I learned that mistakes can teach us. I haven’t had an overdraft charge since that day over 11 years ago because I decided that I would never let that happen again. At the time, it seemed like a very expensive mistake, but looking back, it was a cheap mistake that has saved me a lot of money because I decided to change. This mistake inspired me to become a budgeter.
Although I’m not perfect at budgeting, I have improved so much. Parties are all about celebrating something: life, friendships, and accomplishments. I don’t want the celebration to leave me with regrets. When you follow a budget, you enjoy the party before, during and after. By sticking to the plan, you feel like you do after a workout - you feel good.
For example, a wedding budget could be $5,000 or $20,000. If you have a large budget, you can do an expensive party. If you have a small budget, then it will be a less expensive one. Both can be great, but the budget will determine the party. By spending what you plan to spend, you feel less stress and can really enjoy the experience and the memories which come out of it. I’ve been to wedding receptions that were expensive and some that were not expensive. Both were great because they were what that couple wanted. Some of my favorite parties have been the inexpensive ones. The memories made were priceless.
I’m not much of a partier. It’s probably because a lot of parties involve late nights and I like to go to bed early, but if you are a partier that is great. I saw a commercial for the upcoming Super Bowl parties. If you are a fan, you are counting down the days to watch the Patriots and Falcons face off in the Super Bowl this year. You might be planning how you’ll cheer on your team.
Answering a couple of questions will help you decide the best way for you to plan the finances for your parties.
Parties are a great way to enjoy life and make incredible memories. Budgeting for these parties will help make them successful and allow you to party on without regrets!
With snow piled taller than me, it’s unthinkable that someone would wait in line for two hours to play in the snow. But, my sister and her family went to a Winter festival in Houston, Texas, and the city had hauled in a load of fake snow for it. There was a long line of Texans waiting to play in the “snow.” Being from Utah, she was amazed. Her kids wanted to wait, but she couldn’t make herself wait in a line for two hours for fake snow. I wish I could mail some of Utah’s snow to my Texan nephews. We are running out of places to put it.
I’ve lived my entire life in Utah. For quite a few winters I took care of babies, and we hibernated. I took the snow for granted. A couple of years ago, I decided we would dress warmly and start adventuring out into the snow. I wanted to enjoy the winter too.
Last Saturday, my family went to the Winter Festival at Wasatch Mountain State Park. After receiving six inches of snow that morning, it was the perfect day for a party to celebrate winter. We went cross country skiing for the first time. Snow shoeing and riding snow bikes were also available. Lunch was provided. The whole event was free for us. The only thing that we had to pay for was transportation to get there. Utah has 43 state parks, so if you are looking for a staycation or a day trip, state parks could be a good fit. The fees are low at most of the state parks. We bought an annual state parks pass $75 ($35 for seniors), and it has been well worth it.
To find out about upcoming activities, you can check out the Utah State Parks website. This year is the 60th anniversary of the state parks. Each week there will be some activity at one of the parks to celebrate. There will be “hiking, fishing tournaments, dances, winter festivals, and more!” We were told that each state park has its own mailing list, which is how we found out about the Winter Festival. Iif you are interested in a particular state park, you can ask to be put on their email list. There are two Winter Festivals this weekend! One is at East Canyon and one is at Bear Lake.
Over New Years we went to Zion’s National Park and saw tourists from all over the world. This made me realize how neat our Parks are and gave me the desire to go to them more often. Because they are so close, sometimes I take them for granted.
Staycations and day trips are great and Utah has so much available, but kids grow up. I want to do a big trip to Disneyland and San Diego. My sister’s family just moved to Alaska. I miss her, and I want to visit them. She’s very adventurous and has found so many beautiful and adventurous activities in Alaska, which we would like to do. We also are planning a trip to Spain in a few years.
While growing up, my husband’s family didn’t take expensive trips. They loaded their family in a Volkswagen Rabbit and went camping. My husband loved it. He didn’t feel deprived. He is content taking camping vacations. Their family lived debt free.
My mother-in-law is one of the wisest women I know. So, I asked her if she would do the same kinds of trips that she did having the perspective that she does. She said that she would see everything close in Utah, but she would also put a few dollars away each month to be able to go on a neat big trip every few years. She would still pay for them in cash, but she would prioritize doing some trips that are important to her family. She regrets not doing a few more big trips.
Personal Finances are just that - PERSONAL and INDIVIDUAL. Which means that budgeting is not just mathematical, it’s emotional! The emotional aspect of personal finance can be the hardest part. It requires self-discipline, focus, and delayed gratification. It’s an emotional struggle to delay gratification! With our budget, we plan to enjoy staycations and day trips at Utah’s many state and national parks, but we also look forward to big trips that are important to our family.
Happy New Year! Not a lot changed at the end of 2016 for me, but the holiday is a break from school, so we took our family on a vacation. I started to say, “This was a budget trip," but I caught myself and stopped. I thought about how I was going to use the word budget. So many times we use the word budget to mean cheap. It was a cheap trip. So, I changed my wording and said, “It was a cheap trip.” Budgeting gets a bad reputation when it is used to mean being cheap. Budget doesn’t mean cheap. Budget means a plan. I like how I feel when I follow plans. Think about how you feel when you are following a health plan. Maybe over the holidays you ate without a plan (like I did), and maybe you felt pretty yucky (like I did). Think about the times when you did follow a plan to exercise and eat healthy. It is hard at the time, but I always love how I feel afterward. Over time, I see great results from following a health plan.
Imagine building your home without house plans! I have several friends building beautiful homes right now. I can guarantee that every inch of those homes was included in the plan in order for them to turn out the way that my friends want them to look.
Budgets are financial plans! How do you want your finances to look? If we could think of budgets like building our dream financial home, budgeting could change. We could be excited about it even though we may hate some of the work and discipline involved in the details. There are so many decisions to make when you build a home. Some are big decisions, like square footage and number of rooms. Some are small, like style of doorknobs. Some are almost permanent and some are temporary. It’s not easy to knock out a wall, but changing a door or the color of paint is relatively easy. The more you think about the details, the more likely you are to get the house that you want.
We have big financial decisions that impact us for years, and then we have minor ones that still impact us but not as much. How would our finances be different if we had to submit a plan before we could spend? Well, no permits are required in order to spend money. So, we have to require ourselves to budget. Budget is both a verb and a noun. It’s an actual piece of paper that details out what you will spend, but it is also a process of using that piece of paper and referring back to it before we spend. You don’t have to be perfect. Budgets are flexible. When we do make mistakes, we can change by remodeling. However, we can prevent having to redo a lot by planning!
I love the feeling of being on a plan and a budget, and even though I get off track in the holidays, it’s a NEW YEAR, and it’s a new month. What if we could change the way we view budgets and make them a part of our lives? They aren’t required of us like building plans are, but we can require them….every month. I can’t force you to do one. Wasatch Peaks can’t force you to do one. But we are here to help and encourage you to budget so that you can create the financial house that you want, and feel great about it! I promise you great results as you follow your financial plan over time.
Wasatch Peaks has the option to create Budgeter Accounts. This makes it easy to save and budget by allowing you to have up to 30 budgeting accounts withing your account to put money into and keep seperate for easy tracking. Each budgeting account has a specific name for each budgeting category (Rent, Insurance, School Expenses, Groceries, etc.) so that this budget plan can be customized just for you! It can be pre-set so money is automatically tranferred to your Budgeter Account from your savings or payroll and divided up into each budget account.
Every trip is a budget trip. Every decision is a budgeting decision! I am going to make my January budget right now and invite you to make yours! If you have any questions or want someone to help keep you accountable, please post. Please post your struggles with budgeting. For me there are a handful of categories (food, vacation, clothes) that I have to watch carefully, but the other categories are fixed and don’t require much. Where do you overspend?
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This morning was hard to get up. My husband's alarm went off and I woke up to use the bathroom. My body felt sore. I felt the effects of the cookies, bacon, and chocolate covered popcorn, which I ate yesterday. I felt cold as soon as I got out of my bed. I wanted to go back to sleep. I felt gravity pulling me back to my warm bed. I thought of all the work ahead of me today. Except for the bathroom, every room looks like it experienced a tornado. Christmas was a busy day for my family. I visited 3 families, attended two church services, and had a sick child. The house was now a disaster zone. This can also happen financially over the holidays.
Somehow, I found the strength to walk past my bed without getting back into it. Somehow, I meditated and planned my day. This was a HUGE victory for me today. I think it was because Christmas gave me the belief that I can change. Seeing friends and family and feeling loved inspired me to keep trying. Experiencing kindness and generosity inspired me to want to keep moving forward. Even though I overspent, I can recommit. Even though the house is a mess, we can restore order one item and one room at a time. Sometimes we don't feel like waking up financially, but every day is a new day. If we mess up and give in to a purchase we didn't plan on, or miss a budget meeting, we can start again any and every day. In the big picture, it's not really going to matter that I spent a few more hundred dollars than I wanted to spend, as long as I keep trying.
During this holiday, several of my friends and family have told me that they want to get on top of their finances. They want to budget. They want to plan for taxes. They want to invest. These friends and family have asked my advice on budgeting and asked what app or system they should use. Some of them face huge obstacles in doing this, so I don't want to minimize how hard it can be to change financially. I will compare it to my experience with exercising.
I started exercising regularly a couple of months ago. At the gym, I am surrounded with healthy and strong people. I think about what they had to sacrifice to build the muscles that they have. It is a long and gradual process, and it can't be faked or sped up. There is no shortcut. I can't just be stronger because I want to be. For the first time, I have been weight lifting with a bar and weights. I started with just the bar and am adding small amounts. I can't just put a 35 pound weight on the bar and lift it. I have to sacrifice, plan, and build up the strength. I have to commit. On Christmas Eve I went to a hard interval training class. The teacher pushed herself and admitted it was hard, but at the end she encouraged us and played inspiring music that talked about getting back up and try again. I left feeling so inspired to celebrate my victories and keep trying.
There is no magical app that will make me in shape or get my friends to budget. It doesn't really matter what app you use. There are a lot of good tools, but there is no magical app that will force us to be disciplined. However, exercising at the gym helps inspire me. I believe I can get stronger.
Consider this blog to be your financial gym. Come here to believe that you can change, and surround yourself with people who are growing stronger physically and believing that they can improve. Happy New Years. Enjoy the holiday!
My daughter is learning to play basketball and loves it so much. We went to her game last Saturday. Even the best basketball players miss a lot of shots. Anyone that knows me, knows I believe in budgeting. Even though I love it, my family has plenty of budgeting blunders.
My husband and I met at the beginning of November and planned how we would spend our money this month. We agreed to follow the plan. Some friends invited us to join them for a date night. We didn’t have the money budgeted. I talked to Ty about it, and we decided to pass and planned to have a cheap date instead. We spent the day working outside, and by the end, I really wanted to have a shower. While I was in the shower, a girl came by raising money through selling magazines. Ty has turned down magazine subscriptions before and he often will tell the sales people that he needs to talk to his wife first. He ended up paying $62 for magazine subscriptions, which is about the amount of the date night that we had said no to because we couldn’t afford it.
Why do we sometimes spend money on things that are not important and not urgent? I don’t have an answer. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to pay for them. Ty didn’t know why he did it. At first, I felt upset about this. Then, I realized that I make mistakes, and we can learn from them. We discussed how we would pay for this one, and decided Ty would pay for this with his own spending money since there wasn’t any money for it in the family budget. I joked about how $62 is the most expensive shower I have ever had.
This year we bought an SUV, and the transportation budget category has been a struggle for us. We knew that we would spend more on gasoline for the SUV than we did on the van, but our gasoline expense fluctuates quite a bit based on what we are doing that month. I know people who won’t drive if there isn’t money in their gasoline category, but we will still drive to where we need to go. Even though gas is a variable expense, it seems like a fixed expense. Well, we need to solve this problem. We are going to budget money to the vacation fund so that when we go on our family day adventures, it won’t ruin our budget. We recently took a day trip to Idaho to visit Crater of the Moon and Hagerman Fossil Beds. It wasn’t a full vacation so we didn’t budget for it like we would for a vacation, but the price of driving up there was substantial enough to go over the budgeted amount in gasoline.
Holidays can be budget breaking times of the year. It’s easy to give up and wait until the new year to start again, but remember my family’s budgeting blunders. Budgets require flexibility and the ability to change and adjust.
Wasatch Peaks has some great resources to help with our budgeting blunders like the Christmas Club savings accounts to help save up for Christmas, vacations, and more. At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we care about your financial wellness. That’s why Wasatch Peaks partnered with industry-leading BALANCE to provide you with free access to expertly-crafted financial education and resources to help with your financial matters. And should you need, BALANCE can assist with confidential, no-cost financial counseling services to help you develop a sensible budget managing spending and debt. For all your financial life stage changes and more, Wasatch Peaks—in partnership with BALANCE—are here to help. Click here to learn more about the BALANCE Program.
Athletes who are passionate about their sport still miss a lot of shots. They learn from it, and they keep practicing and are successful no matter how many times they miss. Sometimes those mistakes are more valuable than the successes because the pain you experience helps you learn and change. What budgeting blunders have you experienced and what did you learn from them?
As parents, we don’t always know the path our kids will take in life. Will they attend college? In order to plan for any financial unknown, I don’t plan on it, but I plan for it. However, with college, I plan on it and plan for it. My youngest sister is a junior in college. She and my mom started talking about how to pay for college during her senior year of high school. I got involved to help with budgeting and searching for scholarships. She did get a scholarship, she works, and my mom helps her financially.
This past summer, I went to a financial class and the speaker mentioned scholarships for children. I hadn’t thought about that yet for my kids since my oldest is ten. After that class I researched some of these scholarships. Many of them encouraged kids to make a difference through service. I love service anyway. After that, we listened to a interview with a thirteen year old boy named Wesley who raised enough money to pay for a playground. We asked our kids if they thought they could make a difference. They did. We encourage them to think about how they can make a difference like this boy did. Our son is also named Wesley, which helped us connect with this boy. Some scholarships are small amounts of money but it’s teaching them to think of ways to earn money rather than just through jobs.
I have a few suggestions based on my experiences:
There is no right or wrong answer. Come up with a clear picture of what you plan on doing. Ty and I did this, and started out very generally—we want to help them. I probed him with questions to go deeper and decide that that means to us. For some families, that might mean paying for everything—car, housing, tuition and books, living expenses, etc. For others, that might mean matching what they come up with. Still, others may decide to pay for nothing. For us, we decided we are going to first of all prepare them well. We are going to help them by teaching them life skills. They are going to know how to cook, manage their finances, do their laundry, and develop good relationships with others. Financially, we are planning on helping them pay for tuition and live at home for free. Our ten year-old is planning on attending BYU right now. We are encouraging her to do that. We’ve talked about scholarships that she can start applying for right now. We’ve told her, she will be paying for her living expenses. We want her to achieve her goals and her dreams and are trying to communicate that to her.
My parents and my grandparents generously helped me pay for college, but they didn’t tell me ahead of time. I remember calling my mom one time when I was short on money I needed for my bills. She helped me. I feel very grateful to them for that. I remember wondering if this was causing stress on them and feeling bad about asking. I think it’s important that your child clearly understands what you are willing to contribute—no matter what it is. This requires us as parents to think about it and define that. I’ve discussed this with my friends. One friend told me they want their children to pay for everything for college. She feels that they will value the education better and make different choices than if she paid for it. I think that is great and agree that they will! My friend paid for all of her college, so she is a good example of this for her children since she did it. I advised her to tell their children now. That way, they can prepare and aren’t surprised at age eighteen that they are own their own financially. It will lay clear boundaries for them and help them prepare. One of my neighbors has a grandparent who is willing to pay for her college. That is great, too! But, what is even better is that as a teenager, she knows what the plan is.
From a young age we can detect children’s natural abilities. I’m really trying to help my children find and develop these. My daughter loves to read and write and wants to be a writer. Right now she is preparing to enter the Reflections contest at her school. When I searched for scholarships for kids, I found out about Letters about Literature contest. It requires participants to write a letter to your favorite author. I am encouraging her to enter. As I have researched scholarships, I’ve found some that reward unique abilities. There was one for marble shooting. So, once you know what your child loves, you can encourage that. This could help kids figure out their direction at a young age. They probably won’t be a professional marble shooter, but it could happen. Regardless, it can help them develop themselves and find their way.
To sum it up, have a college plan, communicate the plan to everyone involved, implement the plan and support your child to grow and become who they are meant to be.
Recently, at a girls night out, I told one of the women about my passion for budgeting. She replied, “I need your class!” Budgeting is a simple process: plan to spend money, and spend by that plan, but it can be hard to do! I’ve been thinking about what she said. If I were to teach my friend a class on budgeting, I would teach her to make budgets simple and predictable — even boring.
Boring means a lot of things, but this meaning of boring is uneventful. It means that there isn’t stress or uncertainty about how your money will be spent. The decision is already made beforehand, and that is nice. In my personal budget, most of my decisions are made for me. I’ve got them on AutoPay, which is boring, predictable, and very simple and easy. However, a couple of months ago, I thought I set up a bill payment for my car insurance, but the payment didn’t go through, and I received a cancellation notice, so I know how it feels to feel panic in my finances. I limit those as much as possible.
Wasatch Peaks Credit Union has several tools to help you do this with automatic transfers, bill pay, etc.
There are always a couple of categories that will make budgeting challenging. For example, in September, my kids passed off the the level of books that they were using in piano lessons. This is awesome! They are progressing, learning, developing, and moving up in their piano levels. Financially, this means that we get to buy more books. On top of the lesson books, my kids wanted to buy music for their recital. Now, this isn’t a huge amount, but it’s enough to wreck the plan — especially if you have it happen in more than one area of life. How did we handle it? Well, I had the money left over from a trip that we didn’t spend. Their teacher had a couple of books they could borrow. Our kids paid for some of the books they wanted.
We had a few other expenses we couldn’t predict that we paid for with “M.E. money” (miscellaneous, everything else). We also have an emergency fund that paid for an unexpected car repair (All of my sensor lights came on in our vehicle). Even though I didn’t enjoy paying that money, it wasn’t a stressful crisis. We had a plan that if we had unexpected car repairs come up, we would use our emergency fund, and we followed the plan.
How about you? Are you ready for whatever this month will bring?
Labor Day is this weekend. Is your September budget ready? I’ve been working on ours, but writing this post motivated me to finish our budget and review it with my husband. So, thank you for that.
Every month is different and every family’s situation is different.
This month, my family has school fundraisers, lunches, fall clothing, boots, wedding anniversary, cement patio, and my mother-in-law’s birthday. Making the budget is not the hard part in my opinion. It’s pretty similar most months. Add in those expenses that are specific for September, and you have your budget. I think that following the budget is the hard part. So let’s talk about that.
Plan with your family!
I learned this concept in cooking meals. If I don’t involve them, they usually don’t like the meal. On Friday, we made grilled pizza, and my kids made their own individual pizzas just the way they like it. Tommy’s pizza had pepperoni, pineapple, ham, and cheese. He finished it and wanted second helpings. Personalizing budgets is really important. If I made a budget and gave it to you, I can guarantee it wouldn’t work. It would be my budget—not yours.
USE that budget!
This is the tough part, in my opinion, because we have to use self control. But, if we don’t use our budget, it can’t help us. When urges come to spend money, and I have gone to the budget, I have been able to either spend the money or avoid spending the money. I’ve asked, "Is this expense part of my financial plan this month?" If it was, I spent it. If it wasn’t, I didn’t. When we were newleyweds (13 years ago) the biggest mistake we made when budgeting was not to look at our budget during the month. Although we made a budget, we didn’t use it. We always overspent in some areas and weren’t focused like we could have been. We didn’t get into debt, but we could have been more focused. I regret we didn’t save more for a down payment on our home. We all have weak moments so we need each other to help us. I often tell my kids that I’m not perfect and I need their help.
There are a lot of different ways to implement your plan for spending money and saving money. Please share what works for you. If you are married, talk to your spouse about how you will implement the plan. If one of you overspends in one category, what is the consequence?
If your answer to my question at the beginning of this post was "no," I invite you to take my challenge to labor on your budget before Labor Day by creating your budget.