Four Reasons I LOVE our Family Budget
By: Kayla Faherty
Several Christmases ago my brother gave me a copy of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. I promptly set it on the book shelf. I figured I already knew the basics. I took a Family Financial and Resource Management class in college and had even taught a little personal finance in the Family and Consumer Sciences classes I used to teach. It wasn’t until this past spring when I finally cracked the book open and realized that even though I understood the principles of money management and was pretty good at math, I was not practicing these principles, was not utilizing a family budget, and was in need of a complete overhaul of my attitude towards money. My family’s financial situation was in need of change.
Financial discussions used to fill me with worry, dread, and anxiety. Even though I tried to keep track of our spending, we were living paycheck to paycheck, and I couldn’t quite put a finger on why. I didn’t want money to be a source of stress in our marriage, especially since we have young children. I was reminded by the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew. The verse that spoke to me was 25:23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’” The Holy Spirit invites me, challenges me to be faithful in small matters. I am called to be a good steward of all of God’s gifts, and my family’s financial situation is an area I had let slide for too long. We are blessed with income and resources, and it is necessary that my husband and I work together to better manage our money.
So the first thing I did was to ask my husband for a “Tuesday Talk”. We prepared in advance and set aside a time for this specific topic of discussion in an attempt to minimize distractions. As a result of this conversation, we decided to create a monthly budget. We gave EveryDollar, a free budget software app and website, a try. And the ease-of-use and convenience keeps us coming back each month. It was eye-opening to see where all our money was going. Through our budget we were able to determine better ways of spending our money. Since we began using a monthly budget our marriage and family life has improved greatly. I honestly look forward to completing our budget each month. The worry and anxiety have been replaced with confidence and courage. It has provided our family with so many benefits. These are just the top four reasons I LOVE our Family Budget.
1. I love being on the same team. My husband and I work together to complete our budget, taking into account our household’s income and expenses. We talk about our bills and ways to save money. We discuss upcoming events, birthdays, and holidays, and decide together how much to allot for these special occasions. We use money management to bring us closer in our marriage.
2. I love using the budget to reflect our values. Every month we have the opportunity to realign our budget with our priorities. We discuss our family goals. Whether we are focusing on setting aside an emergency fund or paying off debt, we keep our goals in mind. Our budget allows us to be patient as we work towards bigger goals.
3. I love knowing exactly where we stand. Completing a “zero-balance” budget each month means we are putting every dollar to work. We are mindful of where we want our money to go. Throughout the month we know exactly how much money is left in any category of our budget, and using the envelope system for many items keeps us honest. Our budget helps us make decisions.
4. I love the freedom to save, spend, and give. We are very purposeful in our budgeting. And while some bills don’t change month to month, we can control what we use our “free money” for. We also do not give begrudgingly, but are more generous simply because we work within our budget and have the reassurance that we have enough set aside for groceries. This freedom also allows us to realize that it is in our power to be good role-models for our children.
My husband and I are on our way to being better stewards of our finances. We know that this isn’t a sprint, but rather a marathon. We climb the mountain step by step. We pursue our goals day by day. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.