Once again I came away from our meeting feeling so proud of what we accomplished. Here is what we discussed:
Is budgeting or lack of budgeting a source of stress?
The consensus was that the lack of a budget was more stressful.
Having a budget provides structure and discipline, both of which can be comforting.
When we don’t have a plan/budget, we might not save as much or as regularly and the big, unexpected expenses cause a lot of stress.
It is significantly easier to not budget if you’re not married or have children.
Do you think budgeting is a matter of self discipline or something else? You could hear the crickets after I asked this…not sure anyone wanted to chime in on this except for one person who confided that she’d feel better about budgeting if she was successful, even at some little things, to build confidence and provide energy to keep going (not totally unlike losing some weight after being on a diet for a while; we need to see results).
We revisited a depression-era mantra: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
If you’re in a couple, do you & your spouse disagree on budgeting and if so, what areas cause the most problems?
Most couples disagree on budgeting because how we spend our money reflects our priorities, and we’re different people; we may have similar and maybe even the same goals but we’re not clones of each other.
(Note: The spender-saver dynamic is typical and probably necessary in relationships to provide balance between stability and joy.)
The area that seemed to cause the most problems was simple pocket money; $20 or so that gets frittered away on whatever the pocket-money-wanter wants. The best way to handle this, we discussed, was to use the envelope system whereby the person receives a set amount per day or week (whatever seems reasonable) to use however s/he wants, and whatever is not used is put into the house emergency cash jar/box/envelope. Each day/week the person gets that set amount. There should be no discussion on how the money is spent, provided all the family’s bills are being paid and a savings account is being maintained.
Another area that causes stress in a relationship is throwing away uneaten food. This is typical of overly busy families. The remedy is to sit down once a week with your store circular and coupons, after taking inventory of your pantry/freezer, and select items that can be purchased reasonably that week and -more importantly- things that can be made that week, given the family’s schedule. Crock potting, cook-once-eat-twice style cooking, and having easy & healthy on-the-go options will all help in this area. One participant shared that making and bringing his own lunch provided more time for him to actually eat it versus going out somewhere, plus saving money gave him a confidence boost. And he’s really proud of his ham sandwiches, so he’s acquired a skill to boot!
Tools we use to help stretch our dollars include coupons (newspaper, online, circulars, phone book), meal planning, the envelope system and having the kids’ friends over for game/movie/dance night instead of giving them $$$ to go out. This saves money and allows you to keep watch over them as well.
Stay tuned and consider joining us!
Photos courtesy of ClipArt