Friday, June 03, 2005

Budgeting is a Good Thing

Over the past year or two I've started to do some reading on finances, and well, all that reading is paying off. My wife is a stay-at-home mother and I'm a musician. We are about one month away from being totally, absolutely debt-free thanks to some careful planning and budgeting and my parents (yes, we live in my parents’ basement). Because of that budget we spent last night out shopping for clothes for Glenn when my birthday is only a week away. That has never happened before!

Thankfully, we didn’t have to hit bottom before we started to figure this budgeting stuff out. Living on so little forced us to take a close look at what was happening to our money. We had to make some decisions and take control of it.

Being a follower of Christ also made me wonder how I should be handling my money. Was I being honest with it? Generous? Wise? Am I making my financial decisions with integrity? How would Jesus suggest I use my money? Tough questions that I’m sure we’ll never know all the answers to but the Bible can give us a great start.

First off check out these links about debt. Look at the different translations too if you have a minute. Romans 13:8. Proverbs 22:7. 1 Corinthians 7:23.

Debt never felt right to me. After reading those verses along with some books, I was convinced I had to be rid of my debt. So now here I am! Some people will say debt is necessary, or is a financial tool, but the feeling of not having any debt, and not being slave to anyone is great! After saying all of that, I do believe there are some times when debt is acceptable. It just doesn’t happen as often as Visa would like you to believe.

So back to budgeting. It definitely takes some work and I’ll admit that my wife, Sherri, does the bulk of it for us. The basic idea is to track EVERY dollar and cent you spend. At the beginning of the month we figure out how much income there will be, then we plan how much money we will spend in that month. We basically try to “spend” all of our money before we have it. Part of that “spending” may be putting $200 into savings that month or setting aside $180 for teeth cleaning. Even small things, like an apple juice from the local coffee shop, need to be accounted for. Throughout the month we update our spreadsheet and are able to see where all of our money is going. Of course we have a clothing allocation in our budget for each of us, which I was just able to empty! It’s great to go to the mall knowing exactly how much you have to spend with no worries at all about how it will affect your non-existent credit bill.

Yes, budgeting is a good thing. If you are not doing it I strongly suggest doing the research and spending the time. There is no way you will regret it.

Here are two of the more influential books for me.

Your Money Counts - Howard Dayton
The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey





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