It was 2013 and I was standing in line at Trader Joe’s attempting to buy groceries and my debit card was declined. Just a few weeks earlier, my husband & I had been patting ourselves on the back for mentally doing a budget for the month and figuring out that we could actually put some money into savings.
But then we woke up late a few mornings and didn’t have time to make coffee or a bagel at home - nothing a quick trip to Starbucks couldn’t fix, after all, we had extra money this month! And then there was that birthday dinner for a friend that I just had to buy a new outfit for, after all, we had extra money this month! Oh and don’t forget the night that I didn’t plan dinner so we got take out instead. Not a big deal, after all, we had extra money this month…right?
Do you ever think you have a plan for your money but before you know it, your budget is totally busted?
Do you ever check your bank account balance and scratch your head because you can’t figure out what happened to your paycheck? Do you know where your money is going?
Or am I just writing this post for the present Alysha to scold the Alysha of the past?
The breakthrough came for my husband & me when we finally sat down and had a tough, but honest, conversation about money. We printed out our bank statements for the month and categorized everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, to figure out exactly where we were spending our money.
Do you know how much money two people can spend on eating out in a month? It turns out, a lot. I couldn’t believe the final numbers when I saw them. While we thought we were eating out and spending a little extra cash every once and awhile, the numbers told a very different story.
We had allowed our “every once and awhile” spending to form into daily financial habits.
That was the month it all changed for us. We started taking out cash for many of our expense categories every month. And when the money is gone, it’s gone. No borrowing from “Grocery” or “Gas” for a quick trip to Chipotle or for those cute boots that are on sale. Having a written budget and using cash allows us to make our financial dreams a reality.
Does any of this story ring true for you? If it does, I encourage you and your spouse or accountability partner to add up last month’s expenses and write down a plan for next month. That may involve taking your lunch to work or turning down a dinner invitation, but in the long run it will be worth it!
John Maxwell describes budgeting best: “A budget is simply telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
If you’re having trouble creating a budget or defining your financial goals, please contact me. I would love to help you make your financial dreams come true!