Today’s guest post is by my good friend, Colleen. I met Colleen as a freshman in college when she was helping to lead a small Bible-study that I “happened” to show up to one night during that first month of school. Colleen soon became my mentor and friend, and she and her then fiance, now husband, Brett, were instrumental in helping to shape Mike’s and my relationship and walks with the Lord through college. Even though she moved a few hours away after their wedding, we have kept in contact. Besides being ridiculously silly sometimes, Colleen is a depth of wisdom and love for the Lord, and she blogs regularly over at Colleens Life.
Keeping Your Finances in Mint Condition
When brett and I got married, we knew we wanted to throw our money in one big pot and share it. We didn’t want to have “His money, Her money.” We new we wanted to be equal with how money was distributed regardless of who made more. If we are one in marriage, then everything, including finances, would be one and equal too.
Being a numbers guy, we decided early on that Brett would ultimately be the overseer of our finances. What that did NOT mean was that he would lord over it and give me an allowance each month like I was his child. No, we both have access to our finances, we are both responsible for knowing what we have in each budget, and we both are responsible for not going into debt.
We are 4 years in to marriage and continue to be debt free. The only debt we have left is a bit of college debt and house debt. But that is it. Here is how we did it:
Way back when, when we got back from our Honeymoon, we sat down and figured out exactly how much we would make together. Then we made a list of everything we would possibly ever spend money on within that first year….even down to the aunts-friends-daughters-neighbors birthday party we might just need to by that birthday present for. We wanted to have all our bases covered 😉
After we made that list, we broke the list up into groups. THe first group is: Priority Fixed. These are the bills we spend money on each month that are a priority AND are the same rate every month, IE. House payment, car payment, loan payment, insurance, things of that sort.
The next category is Priority Non-Fixed. These are the bills that are going to vary from month to month but are a priority. These include: gas (house and/or car), electric, pet expenses, groceries, things of that sort. IMPORTANT NOTE: always overestimate. A huge way to fall into debt is by underestimating the cost of bills that are not fixed.
Then we set up a category called Other. These are the monthly expenses we may or may not need money for every month but are still important to have money stored away for. These include, but are not limited to: car up-keep, medical (not insurance. Think co-pay), x-mas and birthday funds, giving fund, house fund, date fund, and any other expense you may at one time spend money on.
Then, the left over money (if there is any) we put into a saving fund.
What about personal spending money? What if I (colleen) want to go get a manicure? What money do I use then? Brett and I gave ourselves each Personal Funds. That is, each month we each get a certain (AND equal) amount of money that we can use personally. If I want to spend my whole months fund on manicures I can. If brett wants to spend his on buying movies for himself, he can. If I want to save mine up for a few months and by a computer for myself, I can. Our personal money is ours to do with what we want. BUT, once the money is spent for that month – THATS IT! No dippin’ in to other funds. If I get a speeding ticket, I can kiss my spending money good-bye.
So, HOW do we keep up with this budget we created? Brett and I found a website called mint.com. It is really easy, helped us create categories and keeps track of every purchase that we make – even down to checks we write. Its simple, free, and there is an app for it too!
Good luck in all your financial adventures! Here is to staying debt free!