Friday, January 3, 2014

The Building Blocks of a Unified Budget!!

Please watch the video to go with this post here

Budgeting. Just saying the word strikes fear among many. Memories of budgets past, of partners who have held this power over you, or even of parents telling you “no” to the toy you wanted because it wasn’t “in the budget!!” Finances are a fickle thing my friend. Many have not been taught how to properly manage them. In fact, we are several generations into adults, who don’t know basic finances. Hey, we were there too.

Unfortunately, I have to say that it’s not getting better either. I could go on for days about how a good budget could actually revolutionize your relationship. I could even talk about the different kinds of budgets. For now, however, I will leave those for another post. In this post I will talk a little bit about WHY it is a good idea to have one, but will MAINLY be talking about the foundation of building a good and unified budget.

BUDGETS, when done properly, bring FREEDOM!! Yes, I said it-freedom. Most associate it with bondage, and being told what they can and can’t do, but that simply is not the truth. Also, for many, the family finances have been a place of hurt. A place where trust was broken. When a budget is done correctly, it can actually be a great way to build trust back up, and bring healing to your relationship. This is going to give each partner a voice, BUT you also have to USE your voice when given the chance-no more “whatever you want dear,” while you go do everything you can to destroy the budget your partner just made. This is just as damaging as being told what to do all the time.

Incorporating a basic envelope system can repair a lot of damage. I won’t go into that right now though, either. We are only covering how to build up to a united value system in this post. So, here are the steps: (HERE ARE THE FORMS: Reality Check, What Do You Want, Uniting Values , if you would like to use them.  They are FREE right now)

-Do the reality check, which I outlined in detail in an earlier post.
-Go through at least a month of bank statements or your check registry.
-Categorize your spending as you go down the list, on a separate piece of paper put a new number next to each new category (some categories cover many different things, such as utilities-this will cover things like natural gas, electricity, phone, etc. Food and restaurants are two DIFFERENT categories).
-Once you have your categories, tally how many times you engaged in this activity.
-So every time you see eating out, put a tally next to the restaurant category.
-You will see what your patterns have been, and as many financial advisers agree-your current value system.

OUCH!! This can be a harsh reality the first time, I know. The first time we did this, we had check after check after check made out to Papa John’s Pizza, with a few things like rent and public utilities sprinkled in between. Talk about having an out-of-whack value system!!

-Sit down with your partner
-Without looking at each other’s papers, write down the things you value spending money on
 (These are your desired things YOU want to spend money on. It’s OK if you value going out to eat, but if you don’t have money for electricity because you spent it on restaurants, know that you’ll be cold if it’s the middle of winter. Also, you don’t HAVE to value rent, just know that you may have to get used to the idea of moving into your car. Keep these things in consideration as you are writing down what you want to spend money on.)
-Once you’ve finished your list, prioritize your desires by importance, with 1 being the most important.
-So that I don’t overwhelm you, I will only take this process out one more step for now.

Now that you have both written down your desired spending categories, it is time to share your thoughts. Here is the beautiful thing. THIS IS YOUR OPINION ON PAPER. If you have a difficulty with confrontation, and finances have been a sore spot in your relationship in the past, this is a good way to communicate what you want. You have it written down, so you won’t forget anything, and if you need to step away to take the emotion out of the conversation, you can do that, and come back. 

-Discuss your lists
-Show each other your desires, and show your priorities
UNLESS YOU ARE TOTALLY WEIRD, these WILL be different. HOLD YOUR TONGUE. Force yourself to NOT criticize what your partner values or desires.

-Now you are going to build a combined list
-You will need to compromise here
-Make sure both of your categories make it onto the list
-Again, once you have made your list, prioritize your values
This will also take compromise. DON'T worry right now about HOW this is going to look on your budget. If your partner enjoys coffee, and you don’t, it doesn’t mean that you DON’T put it in the budget, remember this is about letting everyone have a voice.

1) The likelihood is that you will have something you value that your partner doesn’t, and they will compromise with you, if you are willing to do the same. This is a give-and-take.
2) When we actually get to the writing of the budget, we will make sure that these categories are done within a reasonable amount.

Alright. That’s it for now. You can break these steps up however you wish. It can take a few days, or a couple of hours.

 I WILL give you these guidelines:
• If you are getting frustrated, STEP AWAY!!
• Don’t do this in too short of a time frame-this should be at least a few hours to a couple of days process, BUT…
• Don’t do this in too LONG of a time frame-don’t push this out to SEVERAL weeks. You will never finish.

***Give each other grace!!
***Whatever situation you are in, you didn’t GET HERE quickly, so you’re not going to GET OUT quickly either!!
***You will also not MAGICALLY start communicating like rock stars the first time you sit down to do this. ***You may argue, but persevere!! I promise it WILL be worth DOING, if you keep GOING!!

Let me know how this worked for you, or feel free to ask any questions you might have.  I will be happy to help.  You can either comment, or email me here. (Please no spam)

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