It's no secret that Matt and I live on a budget. We have since early on in our marriage, thanks to the incredible wisdom of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course. Living on a budget has allowed us to do so much more with our money in three years of marriage than we possibly could have without one.
We're currently on baby step #2 - paying off debt - as we have a little bit of debt to my parents, who helped us buy a car last summer, as well as some debt to Matt's parents, who helped us with our down payment when we bought our house. Although neither loan is through a bank (which I'm so grateful for!) debt is debt and I'm ready to be free of it all. But, debt payoff - and really, financial freedom as a whole - is a marathon, not a sprint, and sometimes I catch myself whining about it all. In fact, recently I was working on the budget and thought to myself, "I am SO TIRED of living on a budget! I just want to do what I want!" And I realized that I needed to clarify for myself what "budget" means. Because even when we pay off debt and are making the millions (ha!), we're still going to live on a budget.
Because "budget" doesn't mean "cheapskate." A budget is simply a roadmap, showing you where all your dollars are going to go before the paycheck ever hits the bank. That's it, plain and simple. X dollars go here, X dollars go there, all laid out in black and white. I think a lot of people confuse "frugal" or "cheap" with "living on a budget" so there's this negative connotation that goes along with it. Like, if you live on a budget, you're a wet blanket who never has any fun and has that Eeyore-the-donkey-ho-hum look on your face all the time. But having fun is a-ok, even on a budget! Go shopping! Go out to eat! Take a trip! As long as it's all within the framework of the budget you set out ahead of time, and as long as you're spending actual dollars, not using credit.
For example, even though we are paying off debt hardcore right now, our budget includes some fun money! We each get personal spending money to do whatever we want with. We also budget for date nights and a weekly trip to the ice cream shop after Matt plays soccer on Sunday nights. We'll budget for concerts or friends' birthday celebrations or whatever might be going on. And that's okay! That's good! Life is meant to be lived. The biggest thing to remember is to plan for those fun things, rather than letting them wreck your monthly financial goals. I would say that we live a GOOD, full lifestyle, even on a budget. We eat out. Occasionally we buy things for our house. We go on adventures. We celebrate friends and family. Sure, we aren't living the high life, but we're living a good life. On a budget.
And you can, too! Living on a budget doesn't mean forever being a cheapskate. It just means giving every one of your dollars a home, on paper, and going into the month having a plan for where all of your money is going to go, whether it's to debt, savings, or a tropical vacation to Bora-Bora!
You can find more of Dave Ramsey's budgeting tips right here. This post isn't sponsored in any way, I'm just a huge proponent of his systems and am so grateful for what it's done in our marriage, life and finances!
Do you live on a budget? Do you think "budget" is a four-letter word? I'd love to hear!