Are you living on a budget? And by living on a budget, I mean you don’t just spend money on whatever you want, whenever you want. We are, and it truthfully sucks.
My husband has always been very fiscally conscience. When we were first married, his main goal was to get rid of his student debt from four years of university as fast as possible. It was a big and overwhelming number, because he couldn’t live at home for any of his schooling. But we did it within a few years, and also managed to put a down payment on a small townhouse in Surrey and do some traveling.
That probably seems crazy to some people. How on earth could we afford to pay off a huge debt, go on several vacations, and buy our first home? I’ll tell you how; we were living on a budget.
My husband is an Professional Engineer, so as far as careers go, he’s done pretty well for himself. I’m a full-time stay-at-home-Mom who blogs, so I do add a little income to the bank account, but not much! Compared to a lot of people, our spending is very controlled.
We generally don’t do much for our anniversaries. Christmas is far from over the top in regards to gifts. We rarely go to concerts, the movie theatre, or to local attractions where paid admission is required. If we do, it’s because we’ve found a coupon or have been given free entrance because i’m listed as media. A majority of our clothes come from Costco, our computers are the cheapest brands they come, and we’re a one vehicle family.
Everything we spend is listed on an excel document on our computer. We know how much money we have to spend each month and can physically watch the number dwindle as things are entered into that budget. It makes you very aware of how much you’re spending and where it’s going! When you run out, you run out.
Most of the time I hate doing this. It can feel very stressful. It can create conflict when you and your spouse don’t agree on how it should be spent. Hint: Mat and I totally don’t agree a lot of the time! We value you very different things and then it becomes a give and take thing. It straight up sucks when there is something you want to buy but can’t get.
But you know what I don’t mind? Being debt free. Having the ability to plan a family vacation and know you can comfortably pay for it. It also forces you to really examine each purchase and evaluate it’s necessity in your life.
Maybe family vacations aren’t important to you. Maybe you really value having nice things in your home, spending money on really good food, or having multiple vehicles. Maybe you desire the freedom to go out for a nice dinner every week, wear the latest fashions or name brands, or have the latest technological gadget. Whatever it is, unless you’re very wealthy, you’re going to have to make some choices.
We can’t have it all. What you need to do is decide what is a priority to you and your family, make some goals, and figure out a way to financially get there. You have to plan in advance. You have to be conscience of what your upcoming expenses are (like Christmas or an upcoming trip) and have a safety net in case something comes up that you weren’t expecting.
Again I’ll say, living on a budget is not fun and it takes serious commitment. But if you have dreams and goals you want to accomplish, then you have to make a plan for your future. You have to choose to make a change, or you’ll continue to feel frustrated and stuck and wonder how everyone else is achieving their dreams.
I encourage you to sit down with your spouse and figure out where you want to be in five, ten, and twenty years. In fact, it’s probably time for my husband and I to do a refresher!