Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: Setting a Budget

I haven't done a Thrifty Thursday post in a very long time and I'm feeling the need to get my finances back in order.  The move really threw things into chaos and our circumstances have changed somewhat and I don't feel that I have a grip on anything.

I've always tried to follow the old adage, "Plan your work and then work your plan."  At the top of my to-do list for the new year was setting a new budget.  It's so easy to merrily skip along and think things are under control and then all of the sudden, "Bam!"  You are out of money.  Our financial situation is better in the new church but it is still tight and we also have the added expense of room and board for Stephen, and also trying to help him out with living expenses.

One of the first things we have always done when setting up our budget is to give back to God, right off the top.  It is so easy to want to pay the bills first and then see what's left over.  But we feel it all belongs to the Lord and we only have what we have because of His hand of blessing.  

So 10% comes right off the top for a tithe and then we work with the rest.  We've done that for all of our married life and we've always been able to pay our bills and eat so it's not something we even question any more.

Dan & I sat down this morning (yes, a month into the new year) and listed all our expenses and incidentals and discovered, surprisingly, that we still have a bit to work with as far as being able to save.  It's tight but not quite as bad as I thought it would be.  Our biggest expense besides the cars is paying for old medical bills.  It's amazing that even with medical insurance we still have thousands of dollars in outstanding medical bills because the insurance wouldn't cover something.  Terrible.

Our goal is to constantly pay down debt, starting with the high interest items, and then work on those things that have no interest attached to them, like medical.  As a bill gets paid off, we then roll that payment over onto the next thing.  Currently, our only interest-bearing bills is the car loan and one health-related credit card.

So my budget is done and now I'm ready to buckle down and cut corners here where I can.  The thing I have absolute control over is the grocery budget and entertainment and I need to get back into the swing of managing that better.

Do you sit down and come up with a budget and then stick with it?  I would encourage you to do that.  It truly does take off so much pressure to know what you have and have an action plan in place.