It’s been almost a month since we shared about our first month blogging. In that post, we mentioned that we wanted to inspire people by not only telling our story but by sharing other people’s stories as well. So it’s about time that we get started with that. We have our first interview in Budgeting For The Win.
This interview is from Chris. We interviewed him after he had been using our budget template, which you can get for free by subscribing to our blog, for 2 months. We then followed up at the 3rd-month mark as well. So without further adieu, here’s his story…
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Chris. I’m 38-years-old and married with 2 kids.
What do you do for a living?
I’m an IT Consultant.
What made you decide to start doing a budget?
I was tired of feeling like I was living with a noose around my neck. Also, whenever I thought about looking for a new job, the thought of missing a paycheck would scare me into not even looking into it. Knowing that my financial house of cards would be severely unstable if even one paycheck were to be missed – That was the real motivation because I couldn’t put my family through that.
Now that you’re budgeting, do you feel like you make more money than you thought you made?
Yes, being deliberate and the fact that we can cover all our expenses and still have room to “live” feels good. When we were spending based on what was in the account at the time, we ended up missing certain expenses and due dates. We often felt like we were living check to check. In a sense, we’re still doing that, but it does feel like more purposeful proactive spending as opposed to reactive momentary spending. I now have much more peace of mind.
Do you feel more restricted by the budget or do you feel more free?
I still feel somewhat restricted because the fact is, I can only do what my money allows me to. Until I get to the point where income far exceeds my expenses, I’ll feel restricted. What I do feel is more in control. Less fear about the road bumps. Feeling like no matter what comes, we can deal with it… except for job loss… that would suck.
Now that you’re budgeting, do you feel like you and your spouse are communicating with regards to finances?
Yes, but we still have some kinks to work out with execution. We’re definitely thinking about it more and how to spend more deliberately. The rules about what blow money is and how it should be used still need some refinement. We also still have to work on how to categorize miscellaneous expenses better and make sure funds are allocated in advance so that we don’t slip back into that reactive way of spending. So the mentality is shifting and that is the most positive sign out of all of this. We’re starting to change behavior and thinking about where the money is going before we spend it. It makes justifying frivolous things much harder.
We’ve still got a long way to go, but the progress we’re making on bills and stuff is definitely something we can see. It’s tangible.
Why do you think it took you so long to try to do a budget?
The short answer is that I perceived maintaining a budget as an extremely tedious exercise. And I thought that I would have to constantly watch every nickel and dime. While I do find myself paying more attention to my spending, I only really check the bank account according to my paycheck just to ensure that the expenses I plan for have been paid. Otherwise, I’m either using my blow money (cash) for personal things or the joint debit card for family time or date nights. Both of which are allocated events. It’s still more tedious than what I was doing before, but I’m also paying off more than I paid before as well and it’s not nearly as bad as I perceived it would be.
What advice would you give to someone who isn’t doing a budget but is thinking about it?
The best advice I could give is to be patient. The first full month is the most challenging. Identifying all the typical bills in a month and which paycheck to pay them from was a bit challenging. I started in a partial month, and I truly didn’t grasp the process until I had completed the first full month.
After about the 3rd month, things start to settle in. It becomes easier to predict expenses as opposed to reacting to them when they come in the mail. I’m still adjusting to how to deal with life’s little emergencies, but fortunately, we’ve been dealing with them on a case by case basis. Once you get down to spending less than you bring in, the rest falls into place, especially if you allocate saving.
Our Thoughts: So there you have it. Getting started and being patient are the first steps to doing a budget. And remember…