#JanuaryJoy – Make a Budget or Savings plan.

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When I was growing up one of my abiding memories is of my mum checking off receipts against a pile of bank statements. Aways a big list maker, every penny in her bank account was accounted for as it went out and double checked. I always thought it was funny but joking aside, my approach to money couldn’t have been more different to my Mum’s. A child of the credit years I sailed through uni living in overdrafts and student loans, which might as well have been monopoly money. When I finally graduated aged 24 and started work I was incredibly fortunate to have a well paid job and progress through the ranks that saw my salary rise. It wasn’t without hard work of course, but the old adage work hard, play hard could well have been written about junior doctors. Of course there were times that I made budgets, but it was always more of a retrospective activity and an eye opener as to how much I was spending.

However, there have been periods in my life where I have saved, and saved hard, when we bought our house and the most notable being prior to our wedding. At the time we decided we wanted to save a certain amount, worked out how much that was and divided it month by month between the two of us. We managed it but fell back into bad habits after the enforced saving pre-wedding and a few months of treating ourselves turned into years.

Back in July, I wrote the post Dutch no More, where I shared Pete and my financial plans to go fully ‘joint’ in the banking department to try and save money towards our next move. There were 65 comments from those of you reading sharing your own financial arrangements and a few of you asked for a future update on how it went for us. 6 months on I thought it was time to recap.

When we started out, I don’t mind admitting was worried. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough in one account to cover both of our outgoings and our new financially savvy life would be austere and devoid of fun. I got my joint account card and didn’t want to use it. I suddenly felt so much more responsible for my money and accountable for where it had gone. In reality Pete doesn’t tell me what I can or can’t spend and when I have come home with shopping bags thankfully he’s good humoured about it. Those shopping bags are definitely fewer and farther between however. Everything I spend I think twice about and fripperies I might have splashed some extra cash on often go unpurchased. I do think this is in part because of the mental investment I have made in what we’re trying to do, how much I want the next house we’re saving for. The biggest adjustment has been remebering that his account (which we now live off) is not ‘his’ money, but ‘ours’, no more than the money that earn and save is ‘mine’. I joke about shopping bags but Pete reminds me that where I may spend more on clothes, his car costs a lot more than mine to run and maintain, so it all balances out.

It has been surprisingly easy to get used to shake off that feeling of spending somebody else’s money and the most rewarding thing has been that talking about money, previously something we took care of individually, has become a part of our relationship. It’s another element to the best feeling that marriage brings. That feeling that you’re in it together and we’re working towards our future together. And I’m pleased to report our bank balance has never looked healthier so it’s working too. More than anything I’m glad we did this before we had a family. I now have the confidence to know we can manage without my salary and it will be one less adjustment to make if and when the time comes.

Now it’s your turn readers. Did my post 6 months ago inspire you to change anything about your finances or are you, like we are, saving for something inspiring?


PS. I have concentrated on saving here as that is most relevant to me at the moment but if you’re thinking of making a budget definitely head over and read this brilliant article by Sarah on Any Other Woman.

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7 thoughts on “#JanuaryJoy – Make a Budget or Savings plan.

  1. I am relatively new here, so I did not read your old post (I’ll do now). You are so spot on with this:

    “the best feeling that marriage brings. That feeling that you’re in it together and we’re working towards our future together. ”

    I get the feeling we have a similar arrangement to yours, we live on the boy’s budget, and (when I was working, that is, until last September) my salary would go in its entirety to the savings account. And it’s true what you say, I finding myself thinking twice before spending money in “fripperies”.

    As it is right now I am still looking for a job, and thinking of maybe starting my own business (the idea of being the CEO of my own little creation really appeals to me), so we are seriously researching that option, giving that working in my field (veterinary medicine) or specializing in Public Health like I’d want to is not affordable right now (“only” the master is 12000 EUR) is proving a lot harder than I thought it’d be when I first moved here.

    Thanks for sharing, it is hard to talk about money, specially in public (though I just did, for the first time).

  2. Due to moving house just before Christmas (and taking on a much bigger mortgage and everything that comes with it), we absolutely had to re-look at our finances.

    I came across this brilliant budget planner online: https://budgetbrain.moneysavingexpert.com/budgetplanner/edit/1433510

    I literally entered in all of our outgoings (meals out, lunch for work, holiday costs, pet food… everything).

    And then I realised how much money Mr P and I were just fritting away. It was a bit of a reality check for us! Now, I’ve come up with an all-singing all-dancing spreadsheet that shows us exactly where our money is going each month. Aside from the usual bills, we’re putting aside money for various other things such as: summer holiday, winter holiday, general savings, hairdressers/beauty essentials, shopping (food and otherwise 😉 ) etc…

    We’re now almost through with our first month, and although I was slightly concerned that we would be spreading ourselves a bit too thinly money-wise, it’s worked so well, so far!

  3. I’m so glad the joint account is working out for you! I’m a massive proponent of it, as you might remember. When I took three months’ unpaid leave last year to work for Breast Cancer Care, having joint finances made all the difference. We both had to cut back and make sacrifices to make it happen, which I guess was lot to ask of my husband but it just reinforced that we’re a team. I never felt like I was spending someone else’s money while I wasn’t earning – it’s *our* money, *our* expenses, *our* future that we’re working towards. Not his or mine.

    Having said that, we could probably do with sitting down and taking a long hard look at our finances for the new year – a good, honest budgeting session is long overdue.

  4. I am so bad at budgetting. I used to be such a good saver but now if I don’t have anything to save towards I just can’t make the sacrifices…and I have a credit card bill that refuses to go down. I know that I spend a lot of money on silly things but I still don’t stop, it only takes a couple of expensive items in a month and I’m overdrawn and I really should be earning enough.

    I have two full pay cheques before the drop in pay begins on my maternity leave so I really need to get the hang of this!

  5. ooooh, very interesting and relevant at the moment. I’m a VERY bad saver. Well i say that, if I have a target and a time line i’m a very good saver, I get almost competitive about (with myself). But the whole “putting money away for the future”…. i just can’t get my head around it.

    Without wanting to get morbid, what if the future never happens, and you’ve missed opportunites and turned down all the fun to stay home and save money? Hmmmm. Tricky.

    The husband is completely different though – he loves to save. He’ll happily save every single penny and sit in the dark, eating leftovers, without the heating on every single night of the week to save money for no specific purpose – oh, but he won’t cancel the sports channels! NEVER! Ha ha!

    We’ve been working on this since we first got together – him trying to reign in my frivolity (i think it’s actually “normality”), me trying to loosen up his wallet hinges – and since getting engaged and planning our wedding we have learned that the tricks to a harmonious savings plan are

    1) he has to mentally and verbally commit to something before we have the cash for it – an idea, a wedding, a plan, a holiday. He freaks out and sweats a bit, but he tries.
    2) I need the dates and times for when it will require payment and the ultimate figure and I will then save properly and HARD for it.
    3) neither taunts the other with “i told you so!” and “isn’t my way better?”

    it worked for the wedding, various big “this is our last blow out” holidays (i’ve used that excuse a LOT) and selling up and moving house.

    The next thing to tackle is some serious structural renovations to our new house and a big family trip in the summer. He’s lapsing a bit in to “we don’t have the money so we’re not doing it” mode and I’m getting a bit ancy with my “we’ll never save any money if we don’t know what the plan is, so then we’ll never have any money either”. I must stay calm!

    The problem will come when we start a family, we can’t live on his salary alone, so I will always have to work (and likely in a job I don’t really like, because he LOVES his job) so I find it very hard to get in to the mentality of sharing money from one account. We will always both have to work (that is without some very big life changes) so in my mind we’ll always have separate accounts for both savings and day-to-day expenditure. I know it’s not for everyone but it works for us and it makes sense with the life we have and the future we have planned…

    Then again – nothing is forever… who knows?

  6. We’ve made it as far as very serious conversations about this and I had a brilliant time making a spreadsheet style budget for us, but we haven’t quite gotten around to putting it in to practice, ie opening that joint ‘groceries’ account (the only joint account we feel we need right now). I’m confident we will get there, but we are very different in how much we worry about money. I worry a lot, he doesn’t, but neither of us are terrible with money so I’m fairly sure we’ll implement ‘the great money plan of 2013’ eventually.

    This is a really interesting topic Rebecca, I enjoyed the first post on it and an update is much appreciated.

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