How I became convinced I needed a Budget

How I became convinced I needed a Budget February 28, 2010

When I got married I had heard of Budgeting, but I was under the impression that a budget was the amount of money you spent each month. I didn’t think of how that was supposed to be controlled. When we first got married, we were young, we made under $20,000 a year. And looking back we made alot of dumb choices.

For example we needed Internet for school, so I went and got the cable Internet my family had always used for $60 a month. I never even looked into anything else, I just assumed that it was a decent deal, my parents had always used it after all. A year later I discovered that a different company would do the same high-speed Internet for $12 a month. Needless to say I switched.

When we set up our house, I was convinced that quality was important. But I didn’t know where to look for it. So we took some of our wedding money and went to buy a brand new couch (that would last a lifetime!). Later I found out that I could have paid much less for practically the same thing on since wealthy people like to re-decorate and get rid of their barely used furniture for half the price.

So for our first year, we usually ended up spending our entire paycheck on fixed bills (Rent, Insurance, School, Internet, Phone) and using the credit card for important things like food.

We got a raise, and we got pregnant. It would have been easy to make it in our little apartment on our paycheck now. Except we had no bedroom for the baby! Oh dear, where can we possibly fit this tiny little 10 pound infant in an apartment. Everyone told us how much we would need to get a bigger place. So we did. We bought an adorable little 2 bedroom house with an upstairs dormer room. After all, my husband had a great job working for a ministry, so we were going to be there awhile after he graduated from school.

So half our income went to the Mortgage, Utilities and general upkeep of the house every month, and we still had enough to pay our bills and buy groceries. We still used the credit card, but we tried to throw a little extra towards paying it down every month. And to our great delight we eventually paid it off! After that we just paid it off each month we used it. Baby Ms. Action arrived, and I had lots of other things I could buy now! Like silly pieces of furniture that someone who doesn’t have any children must have invented but you definitely “needed”. And adorable little outfits off the clearance rack.

We did really well, until the year my husband graduated, the market crashed, and the ministry he was working for folded from lack of funds. Ms. Drama had also made her appearance by then. We put the house up for sale right away, but since we were in a state where the unemployment rate doubled, there were no jobs. So no one was looking to buy in our area. We got another job 5 months later and moved leaving our house up for sale. When the house finally sold 8 months after putting it on the market, it sold for less than we owed. We were plunged into serious debt (a years salary’s worth) for the first time in our lives.

We were determined to pay it off, and make every single penny count. But how to get started? I was still working under the “spend the money on things you need until your paycheck is gone” model, and we “needed” alot of things. I didn’t think I could save more money than I already was.

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