Mrs. Frugalee and I have had “budget meetings” before, but I consider today our first REAL budget meeting. We both sat down to look at how much we actually spent in February (we tracked spending using the Every Dollar app/website) and examined each category together.
I call this our first REAL budget meeting because I feel like we both gave input, respected each other’s input, and agreed upon the changes. This is MUCH harder than it sounds. There is usually one saver and one spender in a marriage. A budget doesn’t work if one of the parties does not agree to it.
As I posted about paying off our mortgage in 5 years before, we’ve added an additional $2,500/month principal payment to our budget. To do that, we had to agree to budget cuts in other categories to balance the budget.
Here are the cuts we agreed upon.
Food – I updated my previous post (Budget Killer: Eating Out) to include the February spending totals. We agreed to pare down our spending gradually in this category. Our goal for March is $300 on groceries and $350 on restaurants. We are hoping to bring this down further in the future. For now, this should save about $100-150/month.
Entertainment – We had allocated $200 to entertainment last month and spent $9.16. I guess our son is almost all the entertainment we need. We decided $100/month should be more than enough.
Allowance – Mrs. Frugalee and I have a joint account that our income and expenses go into, but we each have personal accounts that get funded $100/week to spend on anything we want. Food comes from our joint account, so our “allowance” is really for what Dave Ramsey calls “blow money.” We decided to save $100/month by reducing our allowance to $87.50/week (total of $700/month vs. $800/month before).
Giving – This was a tough one. We’ve always given at least 10% of our post-tax income to our church (tithe) and also supported other causes we believed in. We increased our giving last year to give closer to 10% of our pre-tax income, which ended up being about 13% of our post-tax income. However, we decided that it would be all right to bring that back down to 10% of our post-tax income again while we attempt this goal. For now, our giving to other causes will remain the same. This results in a savings of almost $300/month.
Budget meetings aren’t easy. There are always things that we disagree on for a while before finally coming around. I can see why Congress has such a hard time balancing the budget. The first budget meeting is usually the hardest. It’s supposed to get easier as time goes on and shouldn’t really take longer than 30 minutes each month.
Do you and your family have a budget? Do you have budget meetings? Let me know what you think about budgets in the comments section.