Inside Look at Our Weekly Budget Meeting –
Many people have asked about our Weekly Budget Meeting. What we do each week to keep on track and keep our financial house in order. Usually each Saturday morning hubby and I have a date…….to pay bills and discuss the budget. It isn’t nearly as painful as you may think; actually it is one of our favorite activities each weekend. We have been having this date every week since October, 2010.
We get paid on alternating Fridays so it is pay day for us every Friday, (which means budget meeting every Saturday.) We pay bills that are due for that week plus 4 days. Last Friday was March 15th so we pay all monthly bills that are due through the 26th of March.
We start off with Jen taking her place at the computer and reviewing the bank accounts online to make sure our check register and bank balance are the same. We have two accounts we work with each week. The first is our Household Account. This is the account that every bill is paid out of. The second Account, we call our Freedom Account. This account is where we “Sink” funds each week for upcoming expenses.
Paul grabs a chair and his columnar pad to begin our weekly budget meeting. He will read off what our carry over was in the account last week and quickly check if any additional was spent our of it over the course of the week. Carry over is the unallocated money in the account. We don’t quite do a zero based budget., (but we’re always very close!) Last week we had a carryover of $16.27. (What was left in our account after paying bills and filling our envelopes.) Jen’s answer was that nothing was spent of the $16.27 , which is usually the case, but we feel safer having a little bit in the account.
Next we list the income for the week. Last week this included Jen’s Payroll, Brother in Laws rent and our $16.27 in carry over. We total this up and this is what we have to work with for this week.
On our columnar pad we have a list of all our monthly bills listed in order of their due dates for the month. Currently, we have 10 monthly obligations. (When we started there were 16!) This includes items like our mortgage, credit card, student loans, cable TV and Cell Phones. It just so happened that last week we did not have any monthly bills due during the time frame of March 15 – 26th. This is the BEST part…as time goes by and debts are paid off you suddenly have weeks where NOTHING is actually due! Snowball time!
Next we move on to our weekly budget items. Our weekly items include: Gas, household, Grocery, Church, Fun Money, Tommy’s pay, any new credit card charge over the week (Always paid off completely each week) and extended day. We purchase gift cards through our church for gas (SA) and household expenses (Walmart) . We purchase the same amount most weeks; $100 for gas and $100 or $50 for household expenses, depending on the week. We use the envelope system for Grocery, Household and our Fun Money! Fun Money – this is a marriage saving Financial Peace item! We each get a set amount of money each week which is ours to spend or save as we see fit. No discussion needing to be done to approve those expenditures. Weekly Credit Card, we do have one credit card that we use frequently throughout the week or for online items, and some small items that are autopaid like the vet’s plan for our dogs and unplanned expenses. The balance of this card is brought back to $0 each week.
Sinking Funds (Absolutely VITAL)
Once all our obligations are paid, we usually have some funds left over. Those funds must also be accounted for. Sinking Funds is a term used to describe setting aside money for a specific purpose. Think of it as “Rainy Day” fund or “just in case” money. Our sinking funds are placed in our Freedom Account and stays there until needed. Since we had no monthly bills due last week, it was our week to focus majorly on our sinking funds. In the past this would have been money we would have probably spent on something we probably could not afford.
Mortgage or rent – your mortgage is probably one of your biggest expenses. This is a sinking fund for us. We try to put ¼ of our mortgage into the Freedom Account each week. So that by the due date the item is totally funded. So last week we moved money into the Freedom Account to fully fund our mortgage payment, which we will be paying this week. It is such a feeling of peace to have those funds all set aside already for our mortgage.
Tuition – our son goes to private elementary school so we sink those funds too. That payment is due on the 15th, but we added the last few dollars to full fund that item as well. So the money for tuition is in our Freedom Account ready for when that payment is due!
Snowball – whatever is left at this point is paid onto our snowball. Last week we left more money in our account than usual, we pay everything onto the snowball account, which is currently our Affinity Plus Credit Card. We left only $20.73 in our checking account, which is high for us! Snowballing is simply paying more on that item in an effort to pay it off. We will blog more about this item in the future.
Our weekly budget meeting is a time of reflection and planning. We discuss future goals and plan how we will be spending our money each month. We have a common understanding of where we are and where we want to be. Together we plan the path to get where we want to be, Debt Free!
Recently we have started identifying our weekly victory on Facebook after completing our weekly budget meeting. This energizes us each week and helps us to focus on what is going well for us. Some weeks it is harder than others to come up with these victories, (some are small, some are bigger) but it is a good way to keep us motivated and on target.
While our weekly budget meetings sound like they go pretty smoothly and currently they do, they didn’t start out like that. We had never shared in the paying of bills and making financial decisions together so it took a while for us to work this out and to come up with our budget, months actually and we still tweak the process from time to time. So just start and know it will get better each week as you continue to work together. Get all your monthly cots written down and recognized. Don’t forget to add in those weird time-frame ones like the water bill and the twice a year car insurance payments. Those can sink you if you ignore them. Sink THEM instead with your freedom account. Forget the past and together embrace the future!!
If you want to be successful at anything in life, having an accountability partner will highly motivate you and keep you inspired when you want to give up. Your spouse is a great accountability partner. If you are single finding someone to be your accountability partner is key to success.
We are very excited for your journey and wish you the very best!
Paul and Jen
Joyfully Living Below Our Means!
Other Articles in our FPU Series:
Financial Peace University
Our FPU Story: That was then…..This is now
FPU: Leap of Faith
Budgeting…Time to Make a Plan
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