Finances · Goals

5 Things I Have Learned While on a Budget

For the first time in my adult life, I am on a budget.

Growing up, I was on my parent’s budget. Shortly after I graduated college and had my first full-time job, Doug and I got married. So the only opportunity I have had to have a budget is with him. For the past 3 years (next week we will have been married 4 years :), our my husband’s goal has basically been- spend as little money as possible. That should give you an idea of who is the spender and who is the saver over here 😉

Going into our second year of marriage, we knew we wanted to do a budget but didn’t know where to start so it just kept getting pushed to the back burner. Every couple of months we’d have a little argument about why I needed to spend $75 at Old Navy to update my wardrobe. My husband, who has never bought an item of clothing for himself in his entire life except maybe an obnoxiously red NC State hoodie, just didn’t seem to understand my need to keep up with the trends.

We have finally found the solution to our budget.

This summer, we discovered the Every Dollar App. It has been completely changed the way we handle our finances. Finally, every dollar we make has an assigned place and we can track how much we are saving each month.

5 Things I Have Learned on a Budget
This is not our budget- just an example.

Now don’t get me wrong, yes, we have found the solution to our budgeting problems but the process of actually implementing that budget has not come easily to me. August was our first month on “the dreaded budget.” On one hand I was excited to finally have some boundaries on my spending, but on the other hand, I was terrified of what this meant for my shopping habits- I love to shop! Many tears were shed in August, on my end, but I am so thankful for this budget and what it will mean for our family now and many years down the road.

Here are 5 things I have learned being on a budget.

1. I have learned to work as a team with my husband.

This has not been an easy road. Mistakes have been made and much grace has been shown. However, it has been truly rewarding to work together on this and realize that we are on the same team. Finances is the number one cause of divorce in the U.S., proving just how important it is to be on the same page with your spouse on money. These last couple months, I have realized that a budget is crucial to the success of many other aspects of our marriage.

2. I depend on much of my happiness from material possessions – clothes, accessories, makeup, home decor etc.

While shopping and clothes are not bad things, they can become idols, and I recognize that is a reality for me. I spent/spend far too much of my time online shopping and coveting clothes that are not mine. Doug and I decided that I would get a certain amount of “Rachel’s Fun Money” each month to be spent on clothes, makeup, basically anything I want! Anything past that amount, we discuss and evaluate based upon what I need that month. This has surprisingly been freeing for me. In the past, since I had no real boundaries except Doug’s rule- spend as little money as possible, I would go months where I bought way to many clothes I didn’t need and then experience guilt because I knew I had spent too much. Now, this isn’t even an option because I do have set boundaries. I am still able to have fun and shop for material things I love but it is based upon healthier buying habits.

5 Things I Have Learned on a Budget

3. The reality of impulse buying.

I can’t tell you how many times in the last few months I have walked into a store, had things in the basket or cart that I realized I didn’t need, put them back and left. Retail therapy is my jam. This might be my afternoon- get off work early, hop on over to Homegoods, find a $10 knick-knack that is cute, don’t need it but I buy it anyway- instant gratification. But the reality is that, this happiness lasts only moments. I have learned to train myself to ask- do I really need this or am I just buying it because I am searching for some momentary happiness because I had a rough day? My rule is that if I am still thinking about that item 2-3 days later, and it fits in the budget, I will go back and buy it. More often than not, I completely forget about the impulse buy, and I am $10+ richer!

 4. There is not one perfect budget.

Sorry, it’s not as easy as that. Depending on what we have planned each month, our budget differs. For instance, this month we have two trips planned and know we will spend more in our entertainment fund. So, we chose to add a little more than we usually do to that area. At the end of each month, Doug and I discuss where we will put our income for the next month, assigning dollar amounts to each subset. This can be tedious, and Doug usually does the brunt of the work (yay hubby!), but it is vital to having a successful budget month going forward.

5 Things I Have Learned on a Budget

5. Being on a budget can actually simplify your life.

Since every dollar we make now has a name and an assigned place, it has given me the freedom to not constantly second guess where my money is going. In the past, I would think that we were saving money each month, I mean surely…it’s not like I spend that much money. But truly, we had no way of knowing since we weren’t tracking it consistently. Knowing how much I have to spend on food, household items, clothes, etc. has been freeing. I no longer feel any guilt for thinking I might have overspent, because now overspending has a definition and it’s not an option!

Things you might do while on a budget:

  • Raid your (and your mom’s) coupon books you’ve only used once all year.
  • Use your husband’s men’s shampoo because you ran out and really need that money for your Friday morning Starbucks.
  • Buy a pair of boots early in the month that you think you can’t live without, only to find something you want more later in the month so you return said boots to get that thing you want more.
  • Share a toothpaste tube with your husband (even when he has a cold), because who needs their own toothpaste tube anyways when that plaid blanket scarf is calling your name?!

And for the record, I did all of the above. Being on a budget has challenged me in more ways than one and I know it will continue to but I am thankful for the impact it is already having on my spending habits, marriage, and life! I hope this inspires you to create a budget for yourself, whether you are still in a high school, single and living on your own, or married like me! I would love to answer any questions you might have and you can contact me here.

What are your budgeting tips? What do you find is the hardest part for you?




6 thoughts on “5 Things I Have Learned While on a Budget

  1. Enjoyed your post……one thing I would add is to pay cash for everything. This really helps in impulse buying. And if you really want something……. saving to pay cash really lets you know if it’s that important.

  2. I don’t know about you Rach, but I feel like budgeting has made us closer! We no longer ignore those hard to have conversations about money and we get really honest really fast, and it has made us love and respect each other even more!

    1. Yes I totally agree!! Those hard conversations can’t be avoided while on a budget. I love knowing that we’re on the same team and working towards a bigger goal!

  3. What kind of advise would you give for a couple with one consistent paycheck and one very inconsistent paycheck (my husband is a plumber.) We have tried multiple times making a budget but it’s so discouraging because we can never set one due to the fluctuation.

    1. Hey hannah! My husbands paycheck is inconsistent too! Honestly we have had a VERY vague budget. Mainly tithe first. Save. Buy necessities. And spend on optional things depending on that months income. So I would suggest your prioritize your spending amounts each month… and then you’ll kind of know how much you have to spend on clothes, going out, coffee etc.

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