Guest post from Tammy of SkipperClan
One year ago, we wiped out our savings when we sold our house at a loss for a military move. Since that time, we have become more disciplined about shopping smart and using coupons. I’ve gotten deals on restaurants, oil changes, and birthday gifts through tips on MoneySavingMom.com and other discount sites like Groupon.
The problem is that deal shopping is only half of the process of saving money.
Deciding how much to spend for each category is actually the first step, and one we neglected. Crystal gives great advice in her book about budgeting and this month was our first month where we did the budget, on paper, before the month began. We budgeted every month when we were first married, and we have been attempting to stick to our budget over the last year but this month things seemed to ‘click.’
This is what we’ve learned.
Record budget items as they come in.
Whether it is email reminders about regular bills or an expense that only happens once a year, our budget is more accurate if I follow this process. Like most families, our schedule is busy. I found myself procrastinating if I thought I had to set aside the time all at once to budget for the next month.
Focus on one category at a time.
When we tried to dramatically cut our grocery, eating out, and clothing categories all at once, we gave up quickly. I think it is similar to other healthy habits, gradual changes are easier to maintain.
Ask if it can wait.
If it is a day or two before the next paycheck and both cars need gas, then we might each fill the tank half way. If I am inspired by Pinterest to make Christmas gifts but I need supplies, I evaluate my current stash and make something different. Sometimes the expense is delayed just to ease cash flow, but sometimes we decide we did not really want to purchase the item at all.
There is power in being held accountable in areas we want to change, finances are no exception.
In our case, I shared with a mentor a little about our situation and asked her to pray for us. I gave her permission to ask how things are going in specific areas that we are working to improve such as increasing my income and being consistent about using our budget each month.
She might ask when we see each other in person or send me a text. I can text, call or email her when there is something specific for her to pray about concerning our goals.
How much you share with an accountability partner should be agreed upon by your spouse, if you are married. Ideally, you might find another couple who can fill this role.
If you are using a budget each month, what is one tip you would share with someone trying to get started today?
Tammy has been around the world as an Air Force spouse, is happily married to her high school sweetheart, and is navigating the teenage years with her two kids. Her goal at SkipperClan is to encourage and empower women with practical strategies for life. You can find her on Twitter as @Tammy_Skipper.