February 6, 2013

An update on the "B" word

There is something about a year ending and another beginning that can sometimes be uncomfortably unpleasant in the money department. There are just too many opportunities for money to do it's magical disappearing trick during the holidays. Between all the traveling to visit family and all the gifts you buy, it can almost undo all the saving and budgeting you've been doing the past 10 months. Thankfully, with some of our money-conscious decisions made early on in our marriage, we were able to survive the holidays without feeling it in the bank.

The last time I discussed the topic of our "B" word (that's budget if you're totally lost) was back in June (here & here), when the hubs and I were young in our marriage and super ecstatic about budgeting and keeping our finances in order. Now that it's February, I thought it might be helpful to look back and what we did and see how far we've come.

First of all, I have to say that I am really glad we had the "money talk" early on in our marriage. That helped prepare us for our shared life together, when things weren't hectic and we had time to set priorities straight. One idea that we stuck to was the earn one, bank one idea. We did that for the months of June - October, from when we were newlyweds and I was unemployed til I got a job and was employed for a couple of months. When we set off to earn one, bank one, we had one goal in mind: to have enough in savings to cover 3-6 months of emergencies, as suggested by money guru Dave Ramsey. I am so glad we decided to do this before I was employed, because let me tell you -- once I got a job, it was really hard putting my paycheck straight into our savings account when I first started. I had to constantly remind myself that this money was money we had discussed to be put away for later, and slowly started realizing that 'saving for later' was a really, really really great idea. Looking back now, there is relief in knowing that if anything were to happen, we have a safety net to fall back on.

We tithe 10%. We still believe we are commanded to do this. We will continue to do this, and hopefully one day, we will increase the percentage in which we tithe, even if we get back on one salary again. Now with two salaries, it brings me great joy knowing that we have the opportunity to give back and are able to do so. Shortly after getting married, I found out that my husband was designating his tithe to a specific line-item in the church budget where he felt he was called to give (I basically fell in love with him all over again when I found out he did that). Now that we're married, I have joined him in supporting that calling, happily giving to our church's emergency fund, which helps individuals in our community cover, well, emergencies! If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, I believe that we need to stand in the gap for them financially and help keep their lights on and their houses warm at night. This idea of portioning your tithe to something specific is not uncommon. My parents tithe to the missions department at their church. People tithe to sponsorship programs that help people in their church go on missions trips. Some tithe to a line-item that helps support church families undergoing the adoption process. Doesn't that give you joy, knowing that your tithe can go specifically towards something that you are passionate about?

The hubs and I continue to be blessed in being debt-free. We do not take this lightly. We are so very thankful that we never had to take student loans for school, nor are we in any credit card debt. Now that the hubs is in grad school, we continue to be blessed to not have to get loans for school. Through our strategic saving and several scholarship opportunities, we are able to pay for his school without the stress of having to pay it off later. Yes, it is a rude wake-up call when chunks of money suddenly 'disappear' when we pay his tuition bill, but I'm glad that we do that comfortably without having to worry about paying it back later. I hope and pray that as bigger things start coming up in our lives, we will continue to watch our steps and do our best to avoid getting into debt (or too much debt, if we have to).

Summer will be here before we know it, so we are starting to tighten things up around here in anticipation for what's coming. Knowing what's coming up helps us plan for what to do right now. We have two weddings that we are planning on attending two weeks apart from each other this summer, and while they seem like lightyears away, we are already talking about saving money for travel expenses and accommodations. Better safe than sorry I always say, or in other words: better saved now and spent later.

So that's what we've been up to in the money department. How about you? What kinds of 'check-ups' do you do to make sure you're on track with your financial spending?

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