by Jill Burgoyne
When my husband and I got married three years ago, we were probably as compatible as two people can be before they start the unification process that is vital to an eternal and happy relationship. Among the similarities we shared were our love of Jesus Christ, our taste for adventure, our love for languages, our views on the importance of learning. We had both worked hard in school and had several scholarships and grants that we brought to the marriage. There was one glaring difference: however, and that was how we budgeted. I
didn't want to budget his way and he didn't hardly see how my way was
budgeting at all.
After we learned that I was expecting a honeymoon baby, we determined to use some of our savings to go on a several-week trip to Europe. My husband and his family had many many current connections living in several countries around Europe and all we would have to pay for was travel, some food, and various tourist sites. We knew we would never be able to do anything like it again in our lives, so we bought the tickets and went for it!
Yes, Europe was great and fun, but what we got out of it was far more than we could have imagined. One of the areas we were not unified on was our finances. Well, in Europe, we had a limited amount of money and many different ways to spend it! During our time in Dublin, Eric woke me up every day to try to work out our budget. It made me physically sick for a week or so. But by the time we returned to the United States, we had had several experiences that taught us to trust one another in our expenditures, but also in our desire to use our resources for the happiness of our spouse.
The lessons we learned in Europe were humbling, unifying, and difficult, but they helped set a foundation of trust that we've built on for the last three and a half years. One of the best things I have learned about making a financial plan, money map, or budget, is how to look at it. If you keep an accurate budget, knowing where you are going to get your money, where you are going to spend your money and where you are NOT going to spend your money, there is a sort of freeing feeling knowing that as you keep your plan you will be able to pay for what you really want.
The fact of money is this: you will have money for the things you want most. You will learn to afford them. A budget helps you make sure that you don't spend money on things you don't want most. For example: After Eric and I got home from Europe, we were still receiving grants and scholarships. At times, we would look at our bank account and think about house down payments, new cars, or long and luxurious vacations, but because our priority was graduating with absolutely no debt and with savings in stead, we knew our priorities and kept within the budget we set.
We set a budget that allowed for fun spending. Spending on dates, on family outings and on gifts. Not technically necessities by some accounts, but they are priorities for us. And we used our budget to limit our spending in those areas so we knew how much we could spend and still graduate with savings. In that way a budget became very freeing. I could go to a store and know that I could afford a small treat for $--- and still be able to pay for utilities, rent, food, clothes, school, etc.. while still keeping our number one priority.
Prayer has been the most important factor in being able to make and keep a budget. Prayers to be humble to realize my way is probably not the best way. Prayers to decipher between wants and needs. Prayers to be creative on how to live within what we have. And most importantly: prayers of gratitude for money to manage.
Sometimes accounting for every possible expense is intimidating and scary because there is so much to think about, but once you account for it, when the expense comes up, you know that you've planned for it and everything will be alright.