I have never liked the thought of having a budget. It was always something that seemed so controlling and difficult, as well as an impossible feat. I finally found a system that works for us. I did not like Mint.com because you have to import your bank information. I currently use BudgetSimple and it really works for us. I started by adding categories of our basic bills and expenses, then instead of adding a budgeted amount I only added amounts as we spent them during the first month. (I used approx numbers rounding change up. Exacting everything to the penny can be a headache and mental stress) For the second month I added budgeted amounts as I thought appropriate, as well as keeping track of approx amounts as we spent them. The third month we looked at the spending patterns of the previous months and rewrote the budgeted amounts according to spending patterns and whether we felt we over or under spent in a category. From that point we can see where our money is going and where it needs to go each month.
Not everyone is going to budget the same exact way. There is no cookie-cutter fail proof way. (If there were we would all be doing it successfully) Our budgets and budgeting styles are as unique as our personalities. Find one that works for you and your family, whether that is a Dave Ramsey book, mint.com, BudgetSimple, or Microsoft money. Making the most of your money and using it well is the most important thing. We all have different methods, yet the same goal. To honor God in how we use our fiances and to take care of our families. Don’t get frustrated if one method doesn’t work for you, or if you have to tweak the “perfect” budgeting tool to fit your needs. Find what works for you and stick with it. Money is important, we all need it to survive. Still, remember that people are more important. If you are continually at odds with your spouse because of fiances it might be time to sit down and put priorities into perspective. Is it worth the battle? Is the fact that you constantly butt heads with them about money showing them that they are important, or that the security of money means more. Tracy Chapman has a song called “Fast Car” that I love. It tells a story of two young people who are poor as can be, but happily in love. They dream of “having it all” and slowly get there. Once they arrive to “the American Dream” they are miserable, and reminisce about the good old days when all they had was their fast car. I wonder about that in my own life sometimes. What if when I finally “have it all” I am not happy. I know for me and my husband we have decided to be content and responsible with what we do have. If I am discontent with the very little we have now, how can I think that I will one day be satisfied with a lot?
Step back and take a look at what matters more with your finances. Unfortunately they are inevitable, but they do not have to control your happiness and life. Release the aspects of materialism that are unnecessary and embrace the simpleness of what you do have.