Thursday, January 30, 2014

Living on a Budget

What an awful phrase..."Living on a Budget". It brings up images of scrounging, feelings of deprivation, going without, right?
WRONGO! For me, and for many I know, living on a budget, not just the vague idea of one, means freedom, security, and a future that is brighter than the past.

My best friend had come when I was at my most desperate and sat down with me and taught me how to draw up a budget.(she also brought Jane Austin Movies and alcohol LOL. She loves me!) We took our monthly income and subtracted our fixed expenses and then budgeted out for groceries, gas, entertainment, school, incidentals, and first and foremost, 10 % off the top for hard savings, our retirement. Being married to an artist and having been a stay at home mom for the last 5 years, we NEEDED a budget and NEEDED to learn how to save and spend responsibly. She suggested that I take this budgeted money out of the bank in cash and keep it in envelopes. Then I could SEE what we had to spend. And when the envelope was empty, then it was gone for the month. That might mean that we don't go anywhere non necessary due to the gas money being gone. Or that when the grocery money is gone, then we have to get creative with what we do have in the house. This really worked. It was hard at first. But you what? We didn't miss that 10 % and it has grown over the last year. I am amazed!

Another wise woman prayed with me in this time of high stress. It was when I was looking for a job and then she told me about a book called "The Richest Man in Babylon" She shared with me her own story of how she and her husband had fallen into a HUGE amount of debt and how someone told her about this book and how it helped her on a path to digging out of debt and never going back. So I read this book and what do you know...a lot of it made sense.

We prayed that something enjoyable would come along for me and low and behold, the next day, the principal of my daughters school told me about an opening in their Autistic Preschool that I could have if interested. I would be assisting the teacher. It was regular hours, I would be off in the summer, off for snow days, and home by the time my daughter got off her bus! It was perfect!

So here we year after I was physically ill with stress and living on our budget. We are nearly out of debt, we live credit card free, and we live ON OUR BUDGET. I have gone back to work, my husband has taken on some new shows that allow him to demo and sell his artwork, and things are going well. We didn't go on vacation last summer, but we replaced our dying refrigerator, fixed some things that needed fixing, bought a new badminton set for the yard, and enjoyed our summer, even without any family trips.We also were able to pay off more debt. This year, we are heading to the beach. I budgeted for it and we will have the money this summer to enjoy ourselves.

I am about to reread The Richest Man in Babylon as we are ready to move on to the next steps and make our money work for us. We are sticking to our budget, the bills are being paid, we are still living credit card free, and we are NOT deprived, or lacking, or over stressed. I love what I now do for a living. I am still able to homeschool my children, and without all the super stress, my husband and I are able to laugh together and not just talk numbers and bills.

If anyone is having money issues, debt, or just need to budget, I strongly urge you to put it on paper, go get some envelopes, and "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S Clayson.

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