Money can have a negative effect on any marriage. Through trial and error, we have found these easy steps, that not only work but also strengthened our marriage. We are eager to share how we juggle our finances + family with you! But first here’s a little about us…
A Little About Us…
My husband and I are only in our late twenties, and everything we have, we have built together. He’s the breadwinner around here and I’m a stay at home mom of four pretty awesome kids. But we didn’t start here. At one point we were living paycheck to paycheck, and falling short every month. We were fighting over money, blaming each other for spending too much, and stressed to the max. With no security blanket for “a rainy day” our family + finances were taking a major hit. Something had to change, we just didn’t realize it was us…
Insert Dave Ramsey. When we found his methods for budgeting and saving, we quickly realized we were doing it all wrong. We had never made a budget because being a one income family of six, we never thought there’d ever be enough money anyway and ended up winging it pretty much every week. So the first thing we did was write out a simple, zero-based budget. That means we wrote down where every dollar would go that month. If we had any money left over at the end, it went to savings or paying off debt. The goal is to make your income minus your outgo equal to zero. Tell every dollar where to go.
“I thought budgeting would limit us and we’d have to live even tighter than we had been. But I was so wrong.”
When we made our budget, we accounted for all of our bills, what we wanted to save that month, what we wanted to give, debt, other expenses, subscriptions, clothing, family fun days, date nights, (at first these were not an option, so we got creative with date nights in! You can read about that HERE) literally everything, and then we added a line for “free spending” for each of us. At first that number was very small, something like $10, each week. We were both a little ashamed, when we realized where all of our money was going. We realized it was our fault we were broke and we had to do this. Most of our money was spent eating out too much, and impulsively wasting, here and there. So, we started meal planning every week. We put all the bills we could on auto pay. Surprisingly, we even found money to give to others in need.
“Even the kids were excited and wanted to get involved!”
They started earning cash for household chores. We got them some little cash holders that said “Save, Spend, Give” for each of them! This was a huge help for me, and a rewarding and fun lesson for them! They would save some, give some, and spend some each week. We promised each other we’d stick to the budget and work as a team. All that work paid off.
By the end of our first month, we had saved $1000! That was a big deal for us. Going from paycheck to paycheck and no security for emergencies to $1000 in our savings account was so exciting! It became fun to see how much we could actually save. In our first year we ended up paying off $55,000 in debt! But even more importantly, our marriage began to strengthen, we fought less and when we did have an argument, it was hardly ever about money, but more about what we wanted to cook for dinner! If we can do it, so can you! That’s why I’m writing this. I want money to be the last reason your marriage is struggling. I want to help you be able to live the life of your dreams without the stress and insecurity of financial burdens.
We’re still making budgets over here, every Thursday night. After the kids are in bed, we take some time to unwind, then get to our goals for the week. We still haven’t gotten it perfect, we forget to add in little things for that specific week sometimes, (like budgeting for our kids friends birthday gifts etc) but we’re getting better every week and we both put a big effort into this little budget. It’s like a little date night for us now!
I’ve created a FREE + EASY printable budget to get you started!
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Money talk can get heated real quick…
Before you throw this budget in your spouses lap, make sure you have a real talk with them about why you want to do this. Money talk can get heated real quick, and you don’t want to start a war with your teammate! Explain to them that you want to work together. The whole point of this is to bring your family + finances together, not to add more stress!
So to sum it all up, here’s a list of what we did in 11 easy steps!
- We wrote down all our bills and expenses for the month and got a real total of our outgoing money and a total of our monthly income.
- We created a simple, zero-based budget using the free printable I’m sharing with you, along with the every dollar app, from Dave Ramsey.
- We put all of our bills we could on auto pay and used cash for groceries, gas, spending money, clothing, etc. Using cash helps me stay on budget, especially with groceries!
- Speaking of groceries, we meal planned every week and only bought the items on the list. You can read about how we learned to save big time at Whole Foods HERE
- We stuck to it. It doesn’t work if you don’t! It was hard, but worth it!
- We made saving a priority. We decided what percentage we wanted to save each month, and we tried to reach that goal! Our first month the goal was $1000 and we made it happen! Now we are working on 6 months of expenses as our emergency fund!
- We sold + donated ALOT of stuff. Not things we loved or used, but those clothes in the closet we hadn’t worn for months were donated. We sold our tv in our bedroom and that money was used towards meeting our goal. Less distractions made us closer and we had more time in the evenings to talk about our day to each other, instead of sitting watching tv until we fell asleep. We sold or donated anything that didn’t bring joy to our life or that other people could use more than us.
- We stopped buying impulsively. If we wanted something, we’d wait a few days and if we still wanted it then we’d budget it in for the next month. More times than not, we didn’t really need it and decided to save instead.
- We gave. You’re probably thinking, wait what? I know, but trust me here. If you are faithful with the little things, you will be faithful with the big things (Luke 16:10 )We didn’t have much, but we made it a priority to give.
- We worked together as a team, and spent less time fighting about finances. This came naturally with our budget because it took the stress away. We didn’t have to worry about how we were going to pay our car note, groceries for our big family, or our light bill anymore. It was already accounted for. It was exciting to see how much we were saving! We used Dave’s debt snowball method to pay off the debt we had.
- We never gave up. I’ll be honest, we were not perfect in any month and we still aren’t. We forgot things were coming out some weeks, we had emergencies that drained our emergency fund, we felt hopeless having to start over, but we realized for the first time, we didn’t have to worry. The stress factor wasn’t there anymore. We got back focused and rebuilt our emergency fund. We are still learning how to balance finances + our family! We’ve come a long way!
We found a real freedom in owning less “things” and our life became more about us and our kids. We had more money to travel and invest in our family, which led to creating some really amazing memories together! You can read about our guide to minimalism HERE and how less means more time together, more travel, and more memories!
I hope you enjoyed this post and will use these tools to live the life you deserve!