In this post, I gave an overview of how we had been handling our finances up to that point. Since then, we have made some changes. Most of which involve us being more aware of HOW we are spending our money. Now we know where it goes each month, when it is coming out, and how much we need to set aside for different things that come up throughout the year.
First, we sat down and had a financial planning meeting. Yep. My husband and I sat down one evening after Eli went to bed and talked about our finances. I even put it on my Google calendar and sent him an invite. I am SO glad we had this meeting. We talked about what each of us would like to see accomplished this year. Like, what house projects we want to complete, what, if any major purchases we want to make. Then, we looked at the budget to make a plan. We also talked about areas where we can make some cuts. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you look at it!) we don’t really have a lot of areas where our spending can be cut down. We were already operating with a pretty frugal outlook. The good news is, now we are on the same page. Since we sat down together, we both saw the numbers and were able to have a conversation about how to proceed from here. Since then, we have had many conversations about finances that all stem from the meeting we had in January. We have a great base for future conversations.
We decided to set up an account with the free personal finance website mint.com. I have really enjoyed navigating this program. You can set it up to pull information from all of your bank accounts. It sends you reminders when bills are due, and allows you to set up budgets. There is also an app that I love. As soon as you make a purchase you can go into the app and label the purchase so it immediately gets placed in the right budget. This is how we have been keeping track of where our money is going.
As planned, we tried our hand at a financial fast. We didn’t spend any ‘extra’ money. We ate from the pantry and freezer, and I didn’t get Starbucks all month! The verdict: There will always be something that comes up! In January, hubby’s car got a flat tire that resulted in the discovery of some work that needed to be done on his car. We also got a few bills from when Eli had bronchitis in November. Etc. etc…We didn’t end up staying way under budget like I was hoping, but if we had been making frivolous purchases, we would have been way over. So, I label it a small victory.
In summary, having just started on this road towards being more financially responsible, I recommend 2 things.
1. Open communication about your financial situation and goals- Whether you sit down and have a meeting like we did, or just have an open dialogue about the budget, communication is key!
2. Be aware of where your money is going– Set up an account with mint.com, purchase a money management software program, or put pen to paper. This step was eye opening for us. I feel much more in control of my finances!
**I can’t wait to hear what Julie has to say at our first Mommy Workshop! Julie has great info for those of us trying to become more financially responsible!**