I'm not a fan of budgeting. I think the reason is because it exposes my financial shortcomings. It reminds me that my resources are limited, and that unless I win the lottery, I will always have to exercise some level of restraint when it comes to spending. I am, however, a big fan of spending money. That's a dangerous combination that resulted in my wife and me not communicating about our finances, a decade of constant overspending, and a mountain of credit card debt.
Eventually, we came to our senses and took actions to turn our lives around. As part of our recovery, we realized that we were going to have start working on our budgeting skills. We tried countless techniques, each of them starting off with varying levels of success but eventually falling apart, leaving us once again not communicating about our finances.
Through trial and error, we put together bits and pieces of different methods we tried and built a system that has now stuck for well over a year. Given my lack of enthusiasm for budgeting, the foundation of our system may have you scratching your head.
We talk about our finances almost every day.
Yes, that's right: I'm not a fan of budgeting, but we talk about our finances every single day. My theory is, I can handle even the most excruciating pain for small periods of time. If we decrease the frequency of our financial discussions, they take longer and we both simply lose interest. We have three types of financial discussions:
- Payday discussions: Our budget cycles coincide with my bi-monthly paychecks as a software engineer, which is our primary income. We talk about our income and bills for that budget cycle and lay down a framework for our spending plan. These are my least favorite discussions, as they may last anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes.
- Bi-weekly Spending Discussions: We sit down on Thursday nights to checkpoint our finances and plan our spending for the weekend. We do it again on Sunday evening to review how we did with our weekend spending, make any adjustments, and plan our spending for the work week. These discussions last about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Daily Checkpoints: During breakfast, my wife signs onto our online banking portal and reads off the transactions that posted overnight. I grab the checkbook register, mark off the posted transactions and reconcile the balance. These are over and done within five minutes.
Each budget discussion keeps us on the same page and feeds into the next level of discussion. By discussing the little changes that occur with our finances on a daily basis, we are constantly on the same page. We never have those "Where did all our money go?" discussions anymore.
I love being in absolute financial sync with my wife. I love using the funds we do have to maximize our enjoyment of life knowing that our bills are paid and we're saving for our future.
I do not like the act or process of budgeting, but I sure am a fan of the result.
Travis Pizel is the featured writer at Enemy Of Debt, where he candidly shares his family's experiences, struggles and successes as they fight their way out of debt. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family.