Because we had so many excellent entries in the My Secret to Saving Contest, I chose a couple of great posts as honorable mentions. I’m sharing the first one today! I think many of you will relate to and be inspired by to Kelly’s experience!
If you met my little family of four (soon to be five) out in public, you probably would not think we are that different from any other families.
We love to be outside and therefore spend a lot of our time at the park, community events, and playing in our own backyard. Our two children will fill you in on their most recent adventures or their current favorite topic of the day. My husband loves hunting and fishing. I enjoy reading, baking, and running (although running has taken a back seat since finding out we are pregnant with baby #3).
We aren’t like all the other families though.
We don’t strive to keep up with the joneses. We work hard to meet our financial goals, which focus on saving and making extra payments on our mortgage. Most of our meals are made from scratch. Eating out is not a way of life but a rare treat, one that our kids look forward to and will call to tell their grandmas about it asap.
Our biggest secret to saving, that may come as a shock to you, is that we do not have family budget meetings.
In fact, we don’t spend very much time at all discussing money!
I know, I know, most financial blogs (including Six Figures Under) and famous gurus in finance (think Dave Ramsey) recommend weekly to monthly family budget meetings. Before you begin to throw rocks at me, let me explain why and how that works for our household.
And, let me give you a full disclosure. I do think budget meetings make perfect sense to get and stay on track. They just don’t work for every family, more specifically it didn’t work for my family.
We are one of those families that just can’t fit the mold exactly for creating motivating and inspiring budget meetings month after month. I wish we could have had a meeting where we walked away saying, “let’s blow this budget out of the water this month and spend almost nothing.” That just isn’t how our script went.
In the beginning, we tried.
We did try really hard to do weekly budget meetings initially. Here’s the thing though: my husband has no interest whatsoever in budgeting, learning about finances, or really paying attention to the minute details of our spending.
He’s interested in plenty of other things, but having weekly conversations about money isn’t one of them. Sure, he’ll take a quick overview of our finances and can understand them well but then he’s ready to move on to another topic once he knows that we’re okay financially.
My husband is also a live-in-the-present type of guy. I am very future-oriented. I love goals but he doesn’t necessarily like spending a lot of time contemplating goals.
The point of family budget meetings for us was to set goals, ensure we are working towards those said goals, allocate spending, and be sure we are bringing enough money in. The entire agenda was something that did NOT interest my husband, while I could have talked for hours on these topics.
In the end, the meetings led us to become very frustrated with each other and money became more heated than ever for us.
We started to argue (criticize) about every little thing the other person was doing, whether it was frugal-related or spending-related. Then, our weekly meetings turned especially sour as we seemed to spend more and more time discussing if long-term goals were really the right goals for us.
Weekly budget meetings were dropped because friction was too high.
I kept plugging away on our budget while my husband left the receipts on the computer desk without discussion. And you know what? We continued to live well within our means and I moved money into savings (or made extra mortgage payments) with little to no discussion. And we survived.
Our marriage has been much happier without the constant chatter about money. My husband knows the information about the finances he is concerned with and I know, in great detail, how our budget shapes up each month.
How budgets work for us
We ditched family budget meetings six years ago and have never looked back. I run the budgets from start to finish. I can summarize our family’s overarching goals quickly and easily:
- Get out of consumer debt
- Pay off the mortgage
- Have a cushion of savings for emergencies and to be used towards large purchases
Seriously, that’s as simplistic as it is for our family. We were out of consumer debt a few weeks before my daughter (now 4) was born. Since he didn’t always know about extra debt payments I was making at the end of the month, my husband was very surprised to receive our vehicle title in the mail and hear that we were officially consumer debt free as our daughter arrived. This was a huge weight off our shoulders.
We are set to have the mortgage paid off within five years. This would have been a lot sooner but after having our first we decided it was in the best interest of our family that I stay home with our children. For now, my career has been postponed and we survive on my husband’s income and the profits from owning two rental properties (both paid off in full).
How we keep our spending in check
Since I am the one keeping up with our monthly budget (including projections for the month and actual spending), my husband is responsible for a few things only:
1) turn in all receipts to me
2) discuss large purchases with me (we don’t have a set amount but he typically discusses anything outside of his typical, regular purchases)
In our relationship we definitely have a spender (my husband) and a saver (me). I make the purchases for most of our day to day living needs, like food, clothing, and toiletries. My husband makes the purchases for yard care, vehicle maintenance, and home repairs.
To help my husband with his desire to spend, we automatically put money into an account for him with each paycheck. I don’t typically look at this account and he spends as he chooses. This works well for us because he has always loves frequent stops at the gas station after work and I get frustrated when I see these receipts.
What our real SECRET is
Ultimately, when you are trying to get out of debt and/or meet big financial goals it isn’t a bad idea to see what everyone else is doing. I’ve personally read hundreds of books and follow many financial bloggers and am still learning every day. What I have realized over the years is that the real secret is finding what system works for YOU.
There could be 1,000 people that manage their money one way but it just never really clicked for you. And that’s okay to admit. That’s the real beauty in life, we all should live a life that is defined by your own personal rules.
So, go forth, and find the path that works for you in life. I can’t wait to hear the details!
Kelly is a Type A personality, finance loving, frugal living, and thrives on coffee. In her personal blog you will catch her life updates and perspective about marriage, children, running a household (or her honest attempt at), eating healthy, and staying on a budget as a family on one income. You can find her blog at http://growingpainsbykellydavis.blogspot.com/