The word budget is linked to so much dread and misunderstanding, it has almost become a bad word in our society. I'm hoping this week's challenge will help change that for you.
God tells us to be good stewards and record keepers of what we have been given, to be content with what he has blessed us with.
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
First, let me encourage you and say that budgeting does not have to be complicated or overwhelming. Before beginning, pray with your spouse for guidance and wisdom in this area. Think about the verses above and how you may apply them to your family and briefly discuss them with your spouse. Then gather your supplies for work. I prefer to use paper and pencil to draft and then transfer to our spreadsheet. (I have neater handwriting so I tend to do the actual writing while my husband does the computer work.)
As unpleasant as it will seem in the beginning, I always begin with our debts. This sheet is kept separate from my actual budget, but is the basis for knowing where our money is going or needs to go. I list all of our debts from largest to smallest with payments expected by the collectors and due dates. I total up this payment and set it aside for our budget.
therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to
whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Now, onto how I budget.
Growing up, my father frequently said "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." This has stuck with me my whole life and has helped me develop the habit of breaking every task down into manageable pieces. Most families are on a weekly or bi-weekly pay period (some are monthly), but no matter your pay period or if it changes every month, write down your expected monthly income at the top of your paper so you remember your target. (I always round down a little for this so at the end of the month, if we have extra it feels extra good.)
I first make categories for our budget. Obviously, if we have it, one is debt. The rest of ours look something like this:
Family and Personal Expenses
Unforeseen Emergency Expenses
Then, I list all of the items that fall under each of these. For example:
Family and Personal:
Once I have this list, I note which ones change each month and which ones are (at least close to) the same. I like to rewrite my list out to keep it organized with separation between these changing expenses and unchanging expenses. I then begin to write expected amounts. I always start with debts first followed by our absolutely necessary expenses (typically our bills, groceries and the like). I always round up a little on the expected amounts so I have a little cushion just in case. After I have our debts and necessary expenses written down, I quickly total the amount and subtract from our target monthly budget. From this amount I first take our tithing, then everything else. If anything is left over I add some money to our emergency fund, then maintenance funds and finally long term savings.
Adding due dates to this list and adding items to my calendar comes next. I also like to color code my list and calendar. I personally like to code based on debts, necessary expenses that change, necessary expenses that don't change, etc. I make note each month which items go over or under so I can adjust our budget in the future.
This is essentially my method for creating our family budget, sticking to it is a whole different situation. To help us stick to our budget, we pay cash for as much as possible and have bills on auto pay from one account. We only transfer enough money into this account each month to pay for these auto bills. We are receipt keepers and every time we make a purchase, I make a note of it on our spreadsheet. When we run out of money for a category, that's it. It's gone.
I hope this is helpful to your families ladies. We are all in different seasons in our lives, do not feel discouraged if your budget looks different from someone else's. No matter how big or small your monthly budget, God can and will lead your family to the right options. Remember the Parable of the Talents, through Him, all things are possible.
Blessings to you,