Budgeters Come Forth

May 2, 2012

We are having a budget meeting. Yup. Anyone want to join us? (I’m only partially kidding.)

We are wondering…

What are some ways you make your budget meetings fun?

If you don’t have budget meetings… well, why not? (only partially kidding there too) πŸ˜‰

If you don’t have budget meetings, what ways have you found effective for keeping your finances in order?

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  • Reply Joe Lalonde May 3, 2012 at 6:24 am

    No budget meetings in this household but we do have a rough budget. Growing up I it was always impressed upon me to not spend more than I made and to save a little of it for the tough times. So far it’s worked well in the seven years my wife and I have been married.

    How did you and Michael come about having budget meetings? It’s something that I think is a great idea but we haven’t been able to make it work in our household.

    • Reply Claudia Good May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Sounds like you were “trained” well Joe πŸ™‚

      Well, Michael used to do all the finances himself, and we realized it just wasn’t working to promote unity in our marriage. It was actually one of those subjects we used to avoid…
      Since we decided to work together on our finances our marriage did a 180. I never knew it could do that! There is now a level of trust that we never had before…

      We decided to do a monthly budget meeting when we starting doing the cash only /envelope system after reading Dave Ramsey’s book. It has worked great for us!

      So at the beginning of each month we talk over expenses for the month, look over last month’s expenses, pay our bills, and stuff our envelopes with the cash needed for the month. It feels so good to have it done and know where every dollar is going.

      I was the one that was holding back for years on budgeting together. I had a lot of fears associated with money and relationships and budgeting. When I finally stepped up to the plate and faced those fears head on and worked through my ‘issues’ with money such a weight was lifted!

    • Reply Michael Good May 4, 2012 at 6:19 am

      Yeah, Joe. Getting on a budget was really huge for our marriage. No question about it!

  • Reply Michael Wright May 3, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Claudia, we’re in our 16th year of marriage and still no budget meetings here…but we do discuss periodically where we’re “at”. Since I make the income in the family, it’s always been my responsibility to pay the bills, etc. We do have a notebook with all our money items listed though if she ever needs to check on things. This year I actually listed every single paycheck and bill for the entire 12 months and what gets paid on that check, what is saved, etc. My pay is the same each month, so it makes it easier from that standpoint. I can imagine being a Free Agent and the income varying each month. That would definitely require some meetings!

    I love the collage of photos on the post!

    • Reply Claudia Good May 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Hahaha thanks… that was just before the meeting began πŸ™‚

      Sounds like you have figured out a system that works for you.

      It definitely has gotten more complicated since starting self employment. So, we find our meetings more helpful than ever! When we started doing our budget together, it completely changed our marriage… now, with where we are at in the free agency world it is vital!

  • Reply Cindy Hirch May 3, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Claudia – I’m what Dave Ramsey refers to as the “nerd” in the family. I love trying to make those numbers work…LOL I’ve had a budget for the past 15 years long before I knew about FPU. It’s just more elaborate now. I work off an Excel spreadsheet and can be found tweaking it a lot…moving budget allotment $$ around. Maybe I missed something…maybe the base amount miraculously increased while I was sleeping. -:)

    • Reply Claudia Good May 3, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Awesome Cindy!
      hahhahaaa… yes indeed… maybe it will be like the 5 loaves and fishes, I’ll look away and suddenly it will be multiplied πŸ˜‰

      What started you on your budgeting process?

      • Reply Cindy Hirch May 4, 2012 at 6:55 am

        Claudia – I honestly don’t remember since I started it so many years ago. I imagine at the time, because I’m very visual, it just helped me to have a clearer picture of where the money was going.

    • Reply Michael Good May 4, 2012 at 6:18 am

      I love it, Cindy, spreadsheets and all!

  • Reply Kent Julian May 3, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Kathy and I basically have one budget meeting a year, if you want to call it that. We go over where everything is financially in case one of us bites the bullet (seriously, how bad would it be if I pass away and Kathy has no idea who we have our life insurance with or how is managing other aspects of our investments). We also talk about a few of our big goals for the years (i.e. investments or rental properties, where to go on vacation, big events for kids, etc.).

    Personally, we’ve never been too keen on “budget meetings.” We’d rather “do life together.” This is what I mean…here are 3 ways we “do life together” regarding money:

    1. We live below our means. We’ve done this our entire marriage, even when I was a youth pastor starting out at $12,000 a year (obviously, I had to take on part-time work too). We also did this when I was a youth pastor and Kathy stayed home with our three kids during their younger years. Living below our means has been so key for us financially; but don’t be fooled, it was a sacrifice because for years (probably the first 12-13 years of our marriage) we simply could not do the things our friends were doing. However, now we are reaping the benefits!!! While most people our age are strapped with debt, we have enough resources for tons of positive options.

    2. We both participate in finances every month. While I keep the books and pay the bills, Kathy tracks expenses on the credit cards (yes, we use credit cards…I know, we’re awful; but we pay them off each month and those cards have paid us a lot of cash back and allowed us to go on a half dozen paid for vacation…just saying :). She also does all grocery expenses and medical expenses. By both of us having our hands in the finances on a monthly basis, we instinctively know where we are with money. After I pay the bills at the end of each month, I update our “budget” sheet which shows what categories are in the black and what categories are in the red. We adjust the next month or two of spending to make sure red categories get back into the black. We might talk about this for 3-5 minutes to make sure we’re on the same page, but that’s it.

    3. We have learned how to make more money. To me, this has been huge! After 20 years of living on a youth pastors salary (and living below our means), we have figured out how to live a nice, basic life. Now that I’m in business for myself and get paid according to the results I achieve, I’m making a lot more money. I LOVE BEING PAID BY RESULTS. It causes me to push myself to serve and add value in more and better ways, and the reward is I make significantly more than I did when I was a pastor. Additionally, now that our kids our older, Kathy teaches which also brings in more income. We haven’t upped our lifestyle too much (nicer vacations and a few more experiences for our kids), but we’ve really upped our investing in rental property, etc. To me, once a couple gets control of the budget and lives within their means, focusing on bringing in more money is 99% of winning with finances.

    Wow…I wrote a lot more than I planned to write. Hope it’s helpful πŸ™‚

    As an added bonus…TRUST is also huge. There can be no sneaking behind one another’s back; spending money and trying to hide it from one another. Both Kathy and I have “blow money” categories — the cash we get every two weeks that is ours to do with whatever we want. Otherwise, all money is accounted for. In 21 years of marriage, we have never broken this trust with one another. This has been HUGE! The reason I didn’t mention it above is because it is so much a part of the DNA of our marriage, it almost goes without saying. But again, it’s HUGE and probably the #1 thing that makes finances (and all the other important roles in our marriage) work well.

    • Reply Claudia Good May 3, 2012 at 10:12 am

      I will now publish your book, the title will be “Money and Marriage Unite” Hmmm, seriously… maybe you could consider that πŸ˜‰ There is a lot of good stuff here!!!

      I really liked all that you said here! It seems you two have always had a similar goal/vision with your money. What a great way to start off and continue a marriage!


      These are the four lessons we have also had to learn and grow in. Each one is huge in and of itself! We realized that we can’t do just one and neglect the others!

      I agree with you that Trust is the trump card though. That was huge for us! For years, I wasn’t on board with budgeting/working together/talking about money. It was awkward for me and I had some major fears that needed to be worked through. Therefore, the trust was broken constantly and was a spot of contention between us.

      I faced those fears and worked through them.

      Now coming together, being united in our front with our money and being on the same page with how we use it and where it goes completely changed our marriage! We will never go back!

      Thanks for all you said! There is so much wisdom to be gleaned from your experiences!

      • Reply Kent Julian May 3, 2012 at 11:17 am

        Thanks for those kind words, Claudia. I might end up blogging my thoughts and yours on my site πŸ™‚

        I can’t wait to meet Michael and you face-to-face some time. You’re what I would call “good people!”

        • Reply Claudia Good May 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

          That would be awesome!
          Money seems to be a squeamish topic in most marriages… I think that you and your wife have some great insight…. and the married years under your belt to back it up πŸ˜‰

          HAahaAHAH… I have no idea why you just said that. hmmm. I’ll have to think about it for a little…

        • Reply Ryan Ash May 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

          Any chance of you making it to our get-together in PA in June?

  • Reply Josh Mokma May 3, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I don’t think that budget meetings are really too much fun anyway you spin it. Alana and I talk once a month (hopefully the first week of the month) about where our money is going for that month. We use an online tool called Mvelopes (www.mvelopes.com) and it has worked great for us. We do our best to make is short and sweet by going down the list of what we need and want to do on a particular month.

    • Reply Claudia Good May 3, 2012 at 10:23 am

      What!? Budgeting is the highlight of our month!!! (my fake smile is now hurting)
      But, seriously, it gave our marriage a 180 so, we are sticking to it like velcro πŸ™‚

      That’s cool that you guys found a system that you like and works well for you. So, it is an envelope system online?

      We do the envelope system, and it has worked great for us too! How did you find out about mvelopes?

      • Reply Josh Mokma May 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

        Hey Claudia-
        Mvelopes is exactly what you said. An envelope system online. You can connect anything to it, but we just have our main checking account attached. From there we have set up envelopes for utilities, auto insurance, medical stuff, etc.

        After you set up what you want your envelopes to be you set a value to how much you want to put in them each month. Let’s say our auto insurance is $600 every 6 months. We would create an envelope for auto insurance that is budgeted to have $100 in it every month.

        Then when we get paid that goes into an income cash pool and we fund the envelopes accordingly.

        You can track spending and do all sorts of different things with it if you choose. The only issue I guess would be that in order for us to keep track of everything electronically we always have to use our debit card to pay for things.

        Oh, you do have to pay for it. Its not much, but this particular one is not free.

        • Reply Michael Good May 4, 2012 at 6:17 am

          Josh, sounds like a great tool. Thanks for sharing!

        • Reply Claudia Good May 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

          I like the sound of this…
          My only problem with debit cards was that I always spent to much! The real cash keeps me under control cause when I’m out, I’m out πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Ryan Ash May 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    There’s not a lot to say after Kent’s comment.

    I think a key for us has been just getting Ashley involved. The two best things for getting her involved have been Dave Ramsey, but most importantly, YNAB.

    Since we started using YNAB things have become SOOO much simpler & easy to manage. Budget meetings are almost not even needed once you find your groove. It’s similar to Mvelopes, but a software program rather than an ongoing subscription.

    If you guys have questions about it, I’d be happy to answer them. And I am a YNAB affiliate should anyone decide they can’t live without it. πŸ˜‰

    • Reply Claudia Good May 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      I know! It was a great comment. I said he should publish it πŸ˜‰

      Hmmm tell me more. I have not heard of YNAB. (I feel oddly squeamish, like I am being sold on something) πŸ˜‰

      • Reply Ryan Ash May 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

        Lol! You are. πŸ˜‰ I just wouldn’t sell you on something that I didn’t REALLY like.

        If you’re interested, I’d just download their trial version and see what you think. I used to use the Excel spreadsheet method, and it was a LOT of work!

        The trial is for 34 days, and you can download it here: http://daddydifference.com/ynab

        It’s basically money-management software that’s centered around budgeting…hence the name YNAB (You Need A Budget).

        • Reply Michael Good May 4, 2012 at 6:21 am

          I”ve heard about YNAB, but only very little. I saw the link on http://daddydifference.com.

          Will have to look into it more!

          • Ryan Ash May 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm

            It’s very cool, Michael! Ashley says that she’d be rich if she had a dollar for every time that I have mentioned how much I like YNAB. πŸ™‚ But hey, she never touched my spreadsheets, but she’ll use YNAB.

  • Reply Ann J Musico May 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    It’s wonderful that you work on the budget together. When my husband and I bought our first house, he was so freaked out writing those big checks he handed me the checkbook and said he didn’t want to deal with it. It was probably a good thing since he never reconciled it – just rounded figures up – Yikes! Anyway we discuss purchases, etc. but I do the budgeting and he probably has no idea what some of the bill amounts (like cell bill) are! It’s worked for us for almost 30 years though…

    • Reply Claudia Good May 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      haha… yea that wouldn’t have worked out very well πŸ™‚

      I’m glad you have found something that works for you and you feel comfortable with. I’m sure you are a wonderful budgeter!

  • Reply Rob Clinton May 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Wow, I love Kent’s response. In the end, trust does need to go without saying… There’s no way either of us could violate this anyway because (really me) have the worst poker face in the entire world. πŸ™‚

    Cheryl and I have some kind of yelling system down with getting things done… She’s a mover and to sit her down for 10 minutes would be a miracle, so we sort of handle things as were doing things together. I pretty much handle the tracking of everything and budgeting, but we talk about it, and know where everything is going and when.

    It’s been working so far πŸ™‚

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