June 7, 2012

The "B" word: Part 1

Budget [buhj-it] noun, adjective, verb, noun: an itemized allotment of funds, time, etc for a given period; the total sum of money set aside or needed for a purpose.

A while back I posted about our plans to live smart and responsibly with our finances. As we were anticipating our new life together as husband and wife, we had to come to the realization that our finances would also be making the merge with us (eek!). During pre-marital counseling, one of our homework assignments was to show each other our monies. Never before had I ever shown anyone my enormous laughable bank account, because up until that point the only one I had to worry about was myself. It was a very humbling experience for me, because I came to the realization that I needed to be smarter and more conscientious about where my money was going and how my money was being spent.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. As engagement parties came rolling through, we were confronted with the task of being responsible for managing our monetary gifts. I don't know how or why (actually I do know - God), but we sat down one day and discussed where we wanted to see our money going and how much we wanted to portion out for different things. Before we even started receiving money, we decided on a percentage breakdown, and even prayed over it (when you don't have a lot of money, putting non-existent money into a category requires a lot of faith!). Looking back, I am really glad we did this before we knew how much money we would be getting. By doing so, we were able to figure out where our priorities were without the influence of a bottom-line money amount that could have made us feel like we had more to keep and spend on ourselves.

The first thing we wanted to do was to give back. We have been blessed countless times by the generosity of both friends and strangers, as they selflessly gave to us when we did/do not deserve it. Throughout our engagement, we experienced overabundant expressions of grace and love. Thus, when it came time to figure out what to do with all the monetary gifts we were receiving, we only saw it fitting to give back to a cause that we believed in. We regularly tithe 10% of our earnings, so we followed suit and carried the 10% over to OFCB Ministries and their work in Bayonnais, Haiti. (Side note: we were able to visit OFCB in 2009 and our church continues to send teams there every year. They are currently in the process of building a new medical center, and we could not be more excited to support them as they continue to be a blessing to their neighbors). While 10% may not be a lot now, we are excited that our money apportioned to be saved now will allow us to donate our money in similar fashions in the future. As my father-in-law always says, we only need faith of a mustard seed...God will do the rest!

Saving vs. Checking. I'm a checking's-kind-of-girl; "if I earned it, I can spend it!" My husband's the mascot for saving; "...maybe if I squeeze the bills I have saved, more money will flow out". But when it came down to it, we made the realization that 1. I don't have a lot of money saved up/to contribute, and 2. I don't have a job lined up. Thus, we decided that at this period of time in our life, our money gifted to us would be better off saved than spent (60% to savings, 30% to checking). And thank God we decided that -- because now the burden of rushing to find a job has been lifted off my shoulders and I have been gifted some time to settle in and try out my new legs as a Mrs.!

We will still struggle with money and budgeting (our #1 point of tension in our relationship, thanks to the results of our pre-marital counseling questionnaire). But thanks to the generosity of friends and family, we have been given a very strong foundation from which we can grow into a life of simplicity, generosity, and hospitality.

Up next: how we're budgeting our spending money, and how we've already started spending it!

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