Why We Budget


*This post was inspired by a sermon our pastor preached on Luke 19:12-27, The Parable of the Minas. 

I talk frequently on this blog about budgeting, and I have a couple of post ideas specifically concerning budgeting as we approach the end of 2016. It's never too late to start budgeting, and what better time than the New Year to do it! You can find all the posts I've written on the topic of budgeting linked on the "budgeting" tab at the top under "topics."

I've always been frugal, or cheap (what my friends sometimes like to joke with me), but I never seriously budgeted until Jordan and I got married. We have been married 5.5 years and have budgeted the entire time, so it's no longer something we need to think about or discuss. It's just something we do at this point.

Budgeting is important to us for a number of reasons, probably the most obvious being to: 1) get out of debt and stay out of debt and to 2) think about the future so we can maybe eventually retire with a few dollars in our pocket. We paid off my car and student loans years ago. We use a credit card, but we pay the bill in full at the end of each month. (Read more on why we recommend using a credit card in this post.) The only debt we have is our mortgage, and I'll just be honest and tell you that we have a 30-year loan and aren't looking to be able to pay it off anytime soon.

It's a wonderful feeling to not have any debt (other than our house), and staying out of debt is certainly one reason we budget. We take pride in buying things only when we can afford them, because we can pay cash for those items with no buyer's remorse or monthly payment.

It's also a wonderful feeling to know that we are doing as much as we can (even if it's only a little bit) to save for our future. I have a retirement plan through my work that we contribute to, and we have a 529 college fund plan for R that we put a small monthly amount into. It isn't a lot (less than $100 a month), but every little bit helps!

Those are of course part of the reason we budget. But budgeting is hard work, and I'll be honest: sometimes I just want to be able to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant or buy a new sweater or get salmon for dinner instead of chicken again and not immediately start calculating how it will affect our monthly budget. 

I definitely think there's a balance between treating yourself and being intentional with your money, so I'm not saying we never splurge. But what I am saying is that budgeting is not always fun (okay it's really never fun), and sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just buy whatever I want whenever I want it and not even bother looking at the price tag. So why do we do it? Sure, it's great to not be in debt, and it's wise in invest in your future. But that's not the main reason that budgeting is so important to us.

We budget because we believe God has entrusted to us what we have, and we want to be good stewards of it.

Jordan and I pray that we can be good stewards of the money, the possessions, and the people that God has given to us for a short time, and we feel that the best way to do that is to budget so we can intentionally spend and save and make the most out of our resources. I am not trying to suggest that if you're in debt, you're a bad Christian. Nor am I suggesting that God will love you more if you have a lot of money. Neither of those things can be found anywhere in the Bible.

But I do believe that God has given all of us a life and jobs and material wealth, and it is our responsibility to manage those things the best way we can. We are not called to be successful, but we are called to be faithful. Budgeting is what we feel allows us to do that.

Budgeting has provided a way for us to be able to go on a few missions trips over the past couple of years. Jordan and I traveled together with our church to Nicaragua in July 2014, and Jordan went back to Nicaragua in July 2015. Those trips weren't cheap, but we made room in our budget to save throughout the year so that we could have the opportunity to share the Gospel with the people of Nicaragua.

Through budgeting, we make sure that we always have enough money to tithe. I wrote more about that in this post: Why We Tithe.

Through budgeting, we feel confidence and peace being able to have money available to look for ways to share it with those who might need it. I'm not saying I drive around downtown OKC chucking $100 bills out of my open car window at homeless people, but we do try to be open to opportunities to bless others. Knowing that we personally don't have debt and do have a little bit of money to put into savings at the end of each month allows us more freedom to do that. One recent example is the crisis in Syria. We donated to this organization, which is providing food and places to sleep to people fleeing from the crisis in Aleppo. (I know there are a lot of other great places to donate too!)

So that's why we budget. It is of course for the future and for staying out of debt, but we want to it most of all so that we can be good stewards of everything God has given to us. If you have not ever set up a budget and kept track of your finances, now is a great time to start! And if a huge budget sounds too intimidating, I recommend starting small with something like setting a monthly amount of blow money. Read more on that here.

Do you budget? Why or why not?

If you do budget, what is your main goal or reason for budgeting?
Rachel Emily said...

Yes! Nathan and I (finally) tightened up our "budget" this year and it has been so rewarding. It was actually so cool because one day I felt God clearly say tell me to get it together so I made a spreadsheet and everything before Nathan got home and at dinner that night he said to me "I really feel like we need to really get on track with our money" before I said one word about it. God is so cool like that!

The Lady Okie said...

That's awesome! Good for you guys :)

Unknown said...

Amanda, I so needed to read this today! My husband and I do budget, and we have been for a while, but we've recently been a little "loose" with our budget, allowing ourselves to go over when we shouldn't. It's affected our ability to tithe and save, and we've allowed ourselves to accrue a little more credit card debt as a result. A few nights ago we had a discussion about it, being open and honest about our priorities and wanting to push "reset," so to speak, and recalibrate to get back on track. It was an edifying time with my husband, we prayed together as we both expressed that our desire with our money is to give first, take care of our needs, and then use what's left to pay down debt. Our motivation is precisely the same as yours, that we believe all we have comes from God and should be stewarded according to what brings Him glory.

And then, just this morning, I've been sitting here at my desk, tempted to buy something I don't need that would wreck all of the budgeting and financial prioritizing we are striving toward. Your post came along at just the right time to keep me in check. I believe God used this post to shift my eyes toward him again, and I started to tear up even reading it. Thank you for sharing your heart for budgeting, and know that God is using you to point others toward him!

The Lady Okie said...

Oh my goodness! Rachel, thanks for sharing. I'm right there with you on being tempted to buy things I don't need! Budgeting is hard but worth it too, especially when we remember WHY we do it :)

Maria said...

I've never heard of a connection between scripture and budgeting before, but it makes a lot of sense. I feel very blessed that because of our budgeting and general "cheapness", we've been able to support a fair number of charities near and dear to my heart and have been able to help out those close to us in need (charity begins at home, right?).

Another reason we budget (because who am I kidding, we aren't 100% selfless) is to secure a stable financial future for ourselves and future children. We've lived below our means for some time now and doing so has allowed us to save up a lot of money towards a home. Since we don't plan on living here in the Bay Area (one of the country's most expensive places to live), we should be able to buy a nice home elsewhere with no need for financing. This will enable us to craft careers we love and are passionate about, travel, and potentially start a foundation or nonprofit, which is my dream.

We've had many discussions recently of how we want to raise our children in terms of their relationship with money. We both grew up really really poor and though we were never hungry and always had a place to live (thanks for family members), we believe that upbringing made us humble, careful with money, and very appreciative of everything we had then and have now. It motivated us to work hard in school and college, get good jobs, and break the cycle. Even though our children will be in a much better place than we were growing up, we want to instill those same values and aren't quite sure how to do it. I have many thoughts on this topic. Many thoughts :)

Angi said...

Love this! My husband and I have always used a budget, too, and it helps SO much. There's never the stress of wondering if we'll have enough money left for groceries or other necessities, because money is always set aside for those things first. It's going to be a lot tighter next summer having a baby but I'm glad we already have the foundation laid so all we need to do is tweak the budget we're currently using. God bless Excel spreadsheets, heheh.

Jenny Evans said...

We budget simply because it would be weird not to. How do you know if you're spending less than you make if you're not keeping track of where your money goes? The anxiety would kill me. Except for our mortgage payment we are debt-free, too.

17 Perth said...

This is so good. I love to budget. Love to hate it in the same ways you mentioned too....ha! But seriously it can be hard, but I know it's what's best! Gotta love Dave Ramsey! Blow money really changed my perspective on spending and allowance for fun things without guilt or remorse! Love your perspective here as we enter 2017 and think about our budget!

Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch said...

This is a great post, friend!

I've thought about it a lot this weekend. Here are my thoughts / questions / comments: =)

1. Have you always been frugal? I ask that because I feel like some people are born with that gift and others aren't. Dave is super super frugal with himself but generous with me. Like when he goes on vacation by himself he sleeps in the car and takes his own food. I don't do that, for many reasons. I'm not frugal like Dave so I guess we balance each other out.

2. I think it is so so so good that you have no debt other than your mortgage. It really does allow a sense of freedom in life and you'll pay your mortgage off some day too! I don't think that is a bad debt to have either.

3. I think budgeting looks different for every couple. Sometimes I read your posts and feel bad (not faulting you but just looking at my own spending habits) because Dave and I don't do super super detailed budgets. I do a zero dollar budget every month, we tithe, save, pay bills and buy what we need. I just don't beat myself up though if I blow it in a category for that month. Do you and Jordan sit down every month and go over your budget? Does Jordan budget like you do? Dave and I budget differently too. He is a 'just don't spend anything' type of guy and that doesn't work when you have a home to run so I do the majority of the budget and he checks in on it when I ask him to.

This comment is getting super long so I'll quit now =)

Rachel said...

We've always had a budget--actually, I've always done the handwritten budget where you write down everything incoming and outgoing in an account book--we've done that for 6 years and it's just natural at this point. Sometimes it cracks me up that Angel dutifully writes down the 3 RM (.75 cent) parking fee at his work or a 2 RM (.50 cent) drink that he bought--but hey, I'm glad he's committed to accurate accounting. :) In America we had more categories and that worked well for us there--here, we have one general 'life expenses' category for all bills and food and stuff of that sort, for some reason that seems to work better here. Angel's never had a set salary job, and neither have I, except for that one year in China, so the budget has to fluctuate from month to month based on how much he was paid. January will be a light month since his school closes for the week of Dec. 25 to Jan. 1st and of course he won't be paid since he can't work for that week. First, I set aside tithe. Then, I have a set amount for long-term savings (we pay our health insurance once a year, and have our mind on a couple reasons why we might need larger amounts of money, so I know how much we ought to put in savings), so I have a minimum amount to put in that each month. After that, the rest of Angel's income goes into our living expenses. If his income for the month isn't enough to cover living expenses, I'll top it up with my income, but if if we have enough there, I put anything left over from my income in the vacation/fun fund.

Cece @Mahogany Drive said...

It's funny because not since I was a h.s. kid working my first retail job and squirreling away money in the bank have I ever thought to consider WHY! It's something I always knew that you had to do, need to do,and always did so I guess I never thought to really think about why. I guess I'd say I budget for sake of sanity! Not having money in the bank and having debt causes me major stress and anxiety. I really have no choice. We're debt free aside from the dang house too, but since I don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars laying around, I guess I have to tolerate it.

Rach said...

Christopher and I pray that same prayer. That we will be good stewards of what we've been given. It definitely changes the way we look at "our" money and makes us more mindful of what we spend it on. Well written post, Amanda!

Kayla MKOY said...

This is awesome. Budgeting is 100% the reason that we succeed with our money, and half the time when we don't budget, its the exact reason that we fail! It feels great to tell our money where its going before it even hits our bank!

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

I will definitely be stalking out your budget posts as soon as I can find some spare time to sit down and put together a budget plan! This is our #1 goal for 2017 as a couple and we NEED to do something different financially! Thanks so much for sharing.