(Day 20) Reduce Financial Tension: Create A Budget.
Soon after my husband and I were married 10 years ago, we moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the expensive suburbs of Southern California. We had less than $500 in our account–after moving expenses and first months rent–and we still had no bed to sleep in nor a kitchen table to eat on.
Thankfully there was a cheap furniture store across the street from our apartment and the in-laws were able to help us purchase a bed to sleep on that first night (and many more years after that!) However we ate off a cardboard box for the next two months until we could afford a cheap table and four chairs.
I grew up with very little experience managing money well. I still remember calling up my dad up one day when I was in college to tell him my account bounced, again. I felt terrible and guilty, although I really wasn’t trying to be purposely irresponsible. I felt like I was being careful, but I just didn’t understand the concept of budgeting.
After our first month being married, my husband knowing my lack of budgeting and money management skills put me in charge of managing the finances for the next 3 months. He, being extremely skilled in excel, set up a budget sheet that easily added or subtracted finances in and out, as long as I put entered the expenses into the sheet from our bank account. I would check it every couple days and categorize them accordingly (groceries, gas, starbucks… ahem) to see where the money was going and whether or not we were keeping in line with money coming in verses money going out. After 3 months of doing this, it was eye opening to see how very LITTLE money we really had to spend on Starbucks coffee’s or other extra’s, let alone set aside some for savings. But this experience helped me understand the value of the dollar and how important it is to budget in order to save for the future.
Budgeting can feel like a yucky term for many. But really, budgeting is a good thing! It provides financial security and enables you to have spending money without guilt! Yes it might be a VERY small amount, or maybe you have to sacrifice for a few months in order to get ahead before you can have any spending money of fun things, but it frees you from the stress and panic of not being able to pay your bills.
One tool we used was by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace University. It was a great place to learn how to manage our finances even though we felt like we were doing well with it by the time we signed up for this course. Yet we STILL learned valuable tools that I continue to use to this day. We also found ourselves a financial adviser (through the suggestion of Dave Ramsey’s course once we reached a certain step in our budgeting) to help us plan out and map out a game-plan toward becoming financially free in retirement. We are well on our way toward living a life without worrying about our finances. I can’t recommend budgeting enough.
Bottom line: get a hold on your finances so they don’t get a hold of you.
Your anxiety and stress from finances CAN disappear. I’m happy to say. ever since we began to manage our finances through budgeting, we’ve rarely stressed about it since!
Regardless of income, everyone can make a budget that works for them. Making more money doesn’t make you financially free. Managing it well does.
So stop trying to make more to stress less, instead manage it well and be at rest.
Click here to see posts you may have missed in the series Overcoming Anxiety in 31 Days!