Before getting married, I was never very good at money. At my best I was budgeting to the dime to get by, at my worst I was overspending and using credit cards to bridge the gap. (Not advised my friends.)
After my horrible, no-good, very bad, break-up in 2009 I was fully on a spending spree. It filled the hole. I deserved it! I would fly places and buy things like Anthropolie quilts and lovely dinners out. By the time I had worked through all of those emotions and stopped over-spending I was left with some pretty serious debt and a severely defeated opinion of my ability to handle my own finances.
Then I got pregnant.
Mike had a savings account, which I took to mean he was SO GOOD AT MONEY! What was actually the case was that he had no real expenses so he didn’t have to pay attention to his spending at all and his savings account would just grow and grow.
When I went on maternity leave, we had to dip into his savings a lot. When I was only working part-time we had to dip into his savings a lot. One night, before I found my new job and after my non-profit had declined my request to come back full time, we sat on the couch and had the real conversation that we could not keep going the way we were… the savings account was getting smaller. We could go on for a month, tops.
That was one of the hardest nights we’ve had since we got married. I cried a lot. I felt really helpless and guilty and awful. Mike felt powerless and frustrated and like he wasn’t properly providing for our new family.
Then I got a new job. It pays way better, but I was still finding myself needing that next pay check so much. I had a nebulous idea of “Hey, I’m making so much more money, now I can spend all the money I want!” (Spoiler alert: This was false.)
We knew that we wanted Miles to start at a new (much more expensive) day care in the fall and Mike needed a new car. It was time to budget and get our whole financial plan into order.
So we started a budget. We started tracking. And it’s been the MOST liberating experience I’ve ever had.
We still get to have all the fun we want, we’re just aware. We have successfully finished out second month with our budget, and it’s been amazing.
We can confidently start Miles in his new school in the fall. We can confidently buy Mike a new car, while not being afraid we will run out of money for diapers.
We have money in our savings account. (We have a joint savings and individual accounts.) For the first time in my entire life, I am spending less than I am making. I have a savings account that is growing and making me all kinds of happy.
I have shared our tracking with some people, and wanted to do it here too. We use Google Drive to track our spending. We have categories that we’ve budged amount into, and each time we spend and enter that category, my sheet automatically sums up how much I have left in each category. I made a generic version of what we use. I hope it helps someone too!