How budgeting is an important part of my life
And why it affects other parts just as seriously
Budgeting… it sounds boring and to most it sounds like that last thing that you want to actively do. I felt this way up until 6–7 years ago when I was borrowing money from my parents each week and was in an infinite loop of borrowing and pay back. My wife finally said enough (we had been together for 2–3 years at this stage) and we sat down and started to work out our budget.
In a few short months we paid back what we owed and then some. We worked together and after a few years had enough to put a deposit down for the home that we’re living in now.
Like anything we started off bungling our way through spreadsheets, apps and hand written reminders. Eventually we landed on a mix between an app called YNAB (You Need a Budget) and a spreadsheet that we keep up to date each week with what’s going out. I get paid weekly and my wife gets paid fortnightly so having a spreadsheet allows us to keep tracking of those different cycles and YNAB allows us to break each budgeting category down and plan for future bills, expenses and goals. Sounds great right? Well…
A few months ago, it all went wrong…
Because we budgeted for so long, we got into the habit of pre-paying bills before they even came in. On a weekly or fortnightly basis we would transfer a small amount to our electricity provider. That way, when the bill came in we would be in credit and owed nothing or might have to add another small amount on. This sort of predictable payment structure allowed us to stay ahead with bills and plan for the rest.
A few months ago though, we had several things in quick succession drain our savings, all of our budget categories and all of our emergency reserve.
Now it doesn’t sound like much, and reading these back it definitely sounds like first world issues but it affected us none the less. We had two cars with services that came back at over $1000 each and a billing mistake with a cruise holiday we went on that meant over $1000 was drawn mistakingly out of our account. Add that $3000-odd to Christmas and the costs of preparing for a baby and that was our perfect storm. Since then we’ve been slowly declining back into the payslip to payslip life; definitely not good.
Now we’re getting back on track
For a while there we didn’t use our budgeting system at all. To be honest it felt fantastic! But in reality, it meant we let our bank balance slip down to a dangerous level last week: $0.00. Something we haven’t seen since those early days of borrowing money off my parents. Over the past few days we’ve been working hard to get the budget back on track and YNAB and the spreadsheet up to date. While it is annoying to do every day, the feeling of relief knowing that the budget is back in place and has a clear plan again is overwhelming.
Why it’s impacted other parts of my life almost immediately
When you’re not constantly thinking about money and how you’re going to pay for that next bill you have more head space for everything else. It constantly surprises me how many things go on in my head at any given moment and as far as I see it, removing even a single thing to think/worry/stress about is a benefit.
If you’re after help with YNAB or want a copy of the spreadsheet that we use, please let me know and I’d be happy to have a chat.
Also… I’m loving the feedback I’m getting for the stories that I’ve been writing. Here on Medium, on Twitter and on Facebook. Thanks to everyone!
Post #31, Luke.