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- My husband had always tried to implement a budget in our house, but I resisted. I work hard for my money, and I deserve to spend it, I thought.
- But I was five years into my career, I was living paycheck to paycheck with over $100,000 of debt, a condo I couldn’t afford, and two young children. Something had to change.
- When we moved to a new house, I begrudgingly agreed to try a budget — and realized alarmingly quickly how much further our money went when we had a plan.
- Now, we no longer live paycheck to paycheck and I’ve completely changed my thinking: I work hard for my money, and I deserve to keep it.
Five years into my career, even though both my husband and I were making a decent combined salary, we were living paycheck to paycheck in a condo we couldn’t afford. Even worse, we were upside down on that condo, thanks to the housing crash of 2008.
We were a young couple in our 30s with two kids under the age of six in tow, struggling to make ends meet each month and one paycheck away from not making good on our mortgage.
So, why was I still spending money like I was related to the Kardashians? Because I had a motto that was all wrong.
In my frustration, I’d yell to my husband "I work hard for my money and I deserve to spend it!" This was my answer every time he brought up the fact that we needed to be on a budget and live within our means.
This was my answer to myself when I teetered on whether or not I should buy those $60 shoes that were on sale.
This was my answer every. Single. Time. And this was the direct reason why I refused to stick to a budget for years. And as a result, we were just shy from losing everything.
Everything we worked so hard for.
Despite all of this, my husband somehow was still able to save a small amount that we could use to move to a house in the suburbs. It took about three years to save enough money when it should have taken about six months, but we found the perfect house for our family. When it was time to make an offer, my husband sat me down. "If we’re truly going to afford this house," he said, "we need to live within our means and stick to a budget".
Reluctantly, I agreed to be on the same page — but only because I was so excited about moving into my dream house.
So, in good faith, I started researching and learning everything I could to start saving money on our everyday expenses, live more frugally, and pay off our debt. While the first few months were a bit rocky and filled with adjustments and tweaks, month number four came with a win.
A call from my husband telling me that we’d be able to pay all of our bills with one paycheck was an eye-opener. You mean to tell me that just by sticking to a budget and being mindful of my spending, we’re able to stop the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle?
I seriously had no idea that a budget could impact my life in such a positive way. I was always under the notion that a budget was restrictive and for years I did everything I could keep that b-word out of my life.
But, now everything I thought I knew changed. Suddenly, I realized that my budget was the best thing that ever happened to my finances.
A budget wasn’t restricting, it was freeing! I could finally plan how I wanted to spend my money. I knew where every dollar and cent went and it made me feel at peace.
I didn’t give up everything I loved, either. I still shopped, but there was a set budget for it. I cancelled memberships we weren’t using and started cooking at home more. Budgeting helped me realize what I valued in my life, and I started allocating money to the important things first, like paying off debt, family vacations, and investing in retirement.
The more I referred to my budget and stayed focused on my new financial goals, the stronger my love for budgeting became.
And my motto gradually transformed.
My motto of, "I work hard for my money, I deserve to spend it," evolved into, "I work hard for my money, I deserve to keep it."
This is the motto I live by now, and it’s something I tell myself quite often. The more I say it, the stronger I am in controlling my spending. That motto has given me more power than I could have imagined.
Not having a budget for the first eight years of my marriage was my biggest pitfall. I don’t know how we survived for so long without one. We were truly on the verge of a financial disaster and were so lucky to find our way to stable ground before more damage was done. I’m so thankful for having a patient husband who continued to push the budget talk until I was willing to listen.
Now, we’re on the same page, have paid off more than $105,000 in debt, and are on our way to financial independence.
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