Trying to Stick to a Budget

Updated on April 06, 2011
M.M. asks from Denton, TX
36 answers

I've created a budget to deal with my husband's and I expeses because with gas prices the way they are, we can't afford to spend money frivilously. The only problem is, I can't seem to get it started. Everytime I try to stick to the budget that month, my husband spends money on things we don't really need and we end up broke again. This wouldn't be such a problem if not for the fact that we have a baby on the way and things are going to get majorly expensive. We really can't afford to spend money with a baby. I've talk to him about this but he grew up with money and has a hard time controling his spending habits. Anybody have any creative ideas on how to keep my husband on the budget?

4 moms found this helpful

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S.E.

answers from Dallas on

Yet another vote for Dave Ramsey. We've been doing his plan for a while, and have paid off $15,000 worth of debt, and paid cash for me to finish college. All on a teacher's salary.

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A.W.

answers from Knoxville on

My husband has a habit of overspending, too; he'd nickel and dime us right into the poor house if I didn't keep up on the finances!

What I've found that helps is that I request all his receipts weekly (that way I don't get any 'oh, I forgot about that one), and I do a weekly budget update. I find that if I don't do this, he forgets what money he's already spent. If we have a quick weekly update (or I post what we've spent and how much we have left for the month on the fridge), we stay in budget.

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C.A.

answers from Dallas on

Hi M.,

Good for you guys that you are beginning to take control of your money! I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We did it when I started staying home and it's really opened our eyes to what our money should be doing for us.

The biggest thing is to use cash. Put away the credit/debit cards and solely use cash. That way, when it's gone, it's gone.

Good luck!
C.

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H.C.

answers from Lubbock on

I give my husband (with his approval) a weekly allowance. He can spend it on whatever he chooses but once it is gone, its gone. I was giving him a monthly allowance and giving it to him all at once but he said that if he has that much cash in his pocket at one time he feels the need to spend it. And he would. You and your husband really need to sit down together and figure up what an appropriate and realistic budget is for the both of you. There is no point in having a budget if everyone is not on board. It wont work, obviously. Stay away from the credit cards!!

1 mom found this helpful
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B.P.

answers from Abilene on

I agree with the other posts about Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University! My husband and I have taught the class four times and that helps us stay on track. It really helps get hubby and wife on the same page and working together towards a financial goal. Go to Daveramsey.com, click on Financial Peace University on the left, and type in your zipcode in the spot where it says "Find a Class." The materials cost about $95, but it will be the BEST MONEY you have ever spent. Stick with it!

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M.D.

answers from Abilene on

Try Reading Dave Ramsey's Totoal Money Makeover. His stuff is good. When I got my husband on board it has stopped most of our money fights.

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T.P.

answers from Dallas on

Hi M. - first let me tell you - you are not alone! I am in my 50s and I have found a few things that worked for us and now both my grown, married daughters implement these in their lives and it works! My father always said there are two things in life that you never have at the same time, and that is, money and sence! It is a never ending learning experience!

Option 1 - Set up a separate checking account for your husband and deposit money into it each week. He can either spend it all or save it for a larger purchase. This worked great for us when my husband was racing cars and motorcycles but was NOT mechanically inclined and we had to depend on someone else to do repairs! We were young and stupid and had more money then sence! Boy, do we wish we had that money now!

Option 2 - (The family favorite) Use the envelope system. Have a separate envelope for each bill, SAVINGS, gasoline, food, emergency deductibles, fun money, and include those payments you don't make on a regular basis, maybe you pay them every 3 months (my trash bill is like that. Just put a portion of that payment in the envelope each month and you will have the full payment when it is due.) The money goes in that envelope and you know it is there when the bill needs to be paid. Always pay the "Savings" envelope first! Having a savings envelope will let you feel you are making progress. You may only be able to put $5.00 in it - but at the end of the month it is $20. Before you know it, because after all, this really is a game you are playing, you will be putting $50.00 a month in the envelope just because you want to see it grow. DO NOT TOUCH THIS MONEY! IT IS NOT A "SAVE FOR" something, IT IS FOR YOUR FUTURE! Having a fun envelope will keep you from feeling deprived. YES, you may have to wait to make a fun purchase but when you make the purchase you will know you aren't hurting your finances because you prepared for it.

In seventeen years of marriage, I was only able to save $10,000.00. BUT when my husband had a heart attack at age 40, I was very grateful for that $10,000.00. It went really fast but I would have been in a world of hurt if I had not had it!

Two more tricks and ways to put money in the Savings envelope or the Fun envelope is to "round up" when you use money.

1. Only spend folding money. Put the change in a jar and don't touch it except for something major. A vacation, a large purchase, etc. You will be shocked at how well this works.

2. Round up when you write down the amount in your checkbook. When you balance that account, take the difference and put it in SAVINGS.

These differnt processes allow you to have money for your bills, savings and fun. Yes, I know there are times you think you can only put a penny in savings. DO IT! The point is to learn to pay the savings envelope first. You WILL need it one day. It's a guarantee! And, more than likely, it will be for an emergency.

My husband and I never made much money and people always thought we made twice as much as we did. However, we were always prepared and were always able to take care of ourselves and that was important to us. This doesn't just work when you are broke because both of my daughters and their families make a whole lot more money than we ever made and they use this system. It works! Money doesn't have to be a problem in your marriage but it does take discipline. But, it is worth it!

We have now been married 36 years and we are still using the envelope system. My husband thinks it is silly but he agrees, it works! I hope this helps - T.

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P.B.

answers from Tyler on

Create the budget and then have a "meeting" about it. Make the little tweeks together. Each of you should sign every page of it that you agree to stick with it.

Be sure to give him a CASH allowance (and yourself), but agree to put up the debit cards (freeze them in an emptied butter tub with water if you have to) and do not carry the checkbook. This will make you have to come home and think about the buy before making it (and hopefully discuss it).

Use pre-paid gas cards when you can. Use cash when buying groceries (and sale shop) only buying what is on the grocery list (eat before shopping to prevent impulse food buying).

Check out Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey (Google it if you want more info). They offer a class for couples that is awesome and has a little something for every stage of life. Some of it may not apply to you and your husband now, but it will later. It is a Christian-based program that is taught with humor. It is definately worth looking into.

Blessings and good luck.

P. <><

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M.S.

answers from Dallas on

My husband and I read the Dave Ramsey book, Total Money Makeover, and we also attended the Financial Peace University seminar that he does. It completely changed our lives. Dave Ramsey has a way to get you motivated. The budget you create is truely a collaboration between you and your husband so he shouldn't feel like this is something you are doing to him.
Good Luck on the budget and Congrats on the baby!

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K.D.

answers from Dallas on

We are on a budget and things are very tight here too. We do the envelope system where we get his check direct deposit and pull it out when it hits. All of our money gets placed in the envelopes for the bills. One is marked rent, water, TXU, etc. I usually put the bill with my marked envelope to help out. I then get a money order and pay the bill. Any left over money should roll over into the emergency envelope, (hint: there usually isn't any left over money but the envelope is there just in case). :-) For the kids clothes and mine I shop resale unless there is a great sale on at the mall or somewhere else. My husband carries maybe $5 on him at all times, if he is lucky. I like the allowance idea that some of the other mom's mentioned. I hope things go well and congrats on the baby!

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A.L.

answers from Austin on

This is so difficult but i am sure is doable. I am just in the process of doing it myself and one thing that I have found that works for me is getting Instant Updates from my bank. I programmed my account online to send me updates to my cell phone twice a day and it only sends me how much I have available. I only get automatic deposites every two weeks so I know when I am about to go over my budget.
That and having yo access to other credit cards sure helps!
Good luck to you.

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T.D.

answers from Dallas on

I highly highly HIGHLY reccomend reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and checking into his Financial Peace University. My husband and I went through the course and it saved our marriage. We both have a tendency to spend money and this helped us SO much!

Definitely use the envelope system. I would also suggest giving each other an "allowance". Only use the debit cards if you HAVE to, don't carry your checkbook with you places. ALWAYS have cash.

Hope this helps!

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K.C.

answers from Dallas on

A couple of ladies have already mentioned Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I wholeheartedly agree. I highly recommend you get it on audio & listen to it together if possible or check with your local church, some of them might have his videos to lend. Many churches are taking this up as a ministry. There is also a Financial Peace University put on by many churches, his website might have more information. A second book or audio book is the Millionaire Mindset. It is an eye opening look into how the wealthy make & keep their money.This second book is more of an academic study.

Anyway, the reason this will resonate with him is that it's from the man's point of view. He talks about his experience of making a bunch of money & losing it and having to deal with his pride issues and how he viewed himself as a man. It is very straight forward and honest.

My husband would often spend money on big things, TV, computer, etc. No matter how I scrimped, couponed and did without, it hardly made a dent. We had bought a big house, more than we could really afford, not hard to do in California where in the early 2000's the cheapest house was 00k. In order to keep up the house we got into the snowball of buying furniture, car, and "things" to keep up with the life as befitted our house. We quickly got up over our head in credit debt so between the house & other stuff we owed over 550K. Our salvation came two years ago when we moved to TX. We discovered Dave Ramsey on the radio & it made sense to both of us. We sold our house in CA, bought a much smaller, modest house here & paid off all our debts (minus the 150K house) and have refrained from using credit at all. We're much happier despite not having new cars, nice furniture, etc. Even my husband hates to shop unless it is to replace something that has broken, such a change from before.

For those who say you can't change your husband, I agree YOU can't change him. But he CAN change his habbits. Let him learn from Dave on his own. Don't force it down his throat. Maybe put in a CD while in the car together...

My best to you,
K.
Mom of 3, ages 6, 5 & 3

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D.N.

answers from Tyler on

It's a mindset. I think a lot of us begin shopping for recreation and then we're addicted. But truly, there are a lot more worthwhile things in life that money doesn't buy and that are irreplaceable... i.e. time with family or friends, finding your spirutual center, improving your home, learning something new, spending time doing something you used to love to that you no longer have time to do, etc. I've found actually limiting my shopping "expeditions" helps (same concept that if the sweets aren't in the house you don't eat them). Make a list when you have to go to the store. Stick to it as much as humanly possible. There are quite a few articles and news stories about how to cut back and reading those eventually helps reorient one toward more responsible, and less, spending. Don't let up.
Credit card balances paid off two years ago... big sigh of relief! Best wishes for your family.
D. N.

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C.T.

answers from Dallas on

Maybe if the two of you agreed on an amount of cash you would each get to spend each week on whatever you choose. That way when the cash is gone so is your spending for the week. Only use bank cards and checks for bills, groceries and things that are necessary. From my experience, you can never know how much a baby costs until you have one, so I would try to put aside some money for unexpected expenses. Hope this helps. We are on a budget, too. Good luck!!!

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R.

answers from Dallas on

Something my husband and I do that seems a little different than everyone else is that we don't combine our income. We don't have any joint accounts. We do finances like roomates, in a sense. He makes more money than I do, so he pays more of the bills.. mainly he covers the house, car, utilities,groceries, etc and I take care of the kids.. daycare, clothes, extracurricular activities, birthdays. That way, he is doing the bills that make him feel like a man in providing for our families basic needs, and it is his responsibility to buget and plan for them. While, I on the other hand, take responsibility in bugeting for the kids. Then, whatever each of us has left over (after savings too (he saves for us to have a safety cushion if we lose our job, I save for christmas, vacations, and medical expenses), we can put towards going out or buying extras. We have been together over 10years and married for over 6 and we have never had one argument over money... and we have 3 kids, one with a disability with very expensive therapy, and I just finished grad school so we live pretty darn close to paycheck to paycheck. We discuss money all the time and we know how much each other has, and where it's going.

I remember with my first husband I controlled the finances because that's what my mother did with my dad and I thought that's the way married people did things...the husband makes the money and the wife allocates the spending. It was awful. I would give my ex husband and I both an allowance and he would run out of his and then swipe my credit cards or from our savings and spend more than we had. Even though I told him the buget and we decided it together, because he wasn't physically paying any of the bills he didn't have any sense of responsibility for it. None of the bills were even in his name.

If you're not working, maybe you and he can decide how to divide his paycheck so part of it is considered your income to manage for expenses for the baby, groceries..whatever, and then he can buget the other portion for rent/mortgage, utilities, etc..

Best wishes to you figuring this out.

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S.S.

answers from Dallas on

Hopefully you will get better ideas to start out with, but when my husband and I first got married and money was tight he couldn't even tell me where the $20 he had Monday went by Wed. So, I had to put him on an allowance so he would have to keep track of where his money was going and if he wanted a snack at work he couldn't always get a snack on the way home because he didn't have enough for that.

It also taught him that when the allowance so to speak was gone... there wasn't a Mom or Dad giving him more (which was his background).

An allowance sounds harsh, but it is really just a tool. Once he really understood where his money went and could conceive of the working budget I gave him more and more money to carry around. Until it wasn't an issue any more.

Another thing you might consider is taking the credit away if that is how he is spending.

Another suggestion I have heard before is putting the gas money for the week in an envelope, the grocery money in an envelope, the money for the bills too. Than, take $5 - $10 and put that in an envelope that you two decide to rent a movie or buy an ice cream. That way, when you need money for the weekly expenses you both go to one place and get the money for that one purpose and when the money is gone it's gone. It helps to know I only have $100 for groceries...maybe looking at the sale ads would help or using coupons to stretch the money out.

Another thing to consider (which I mentioned above)... Basically, all the advice I have ever received regarding budgeting is to set something aside to spend on you or with the baby coming IF spending on the baby is FUN than occationally you can put some of your FUN money in on something for your little one to be. But sticking to a budget is better if you can budget in some entertainment or hobby that you both like. It helps to eliminate the feeling that when your budgeting you don't get to go out to dinner or movies or play at all. Which can lead to splurging and totally blowing your budget.

I've been there and can understand. Everyone is different so I don't know if these suggestions will help or not. But any way Good Luck and congraduations!

D

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R.E.

answers from Dallas on

My husband and I give each other an allowance. He gets more than I do because he has to buy lunch during the week, but we both get $20 a paycheck to spend on whatever we want. We laid out what that money was for and what he could use the money for and we always discuss purchases with that money before hand. If he wants to buy some computer thingy, he has to use his money for it and save up every paycheck until he has enough. Same for me. If I want to get a manicure or pedicure, that's what my allowance is for. Purchases with that money, we don't have to consult each other on.

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J.G.

answers from Dallas on

Luckily I take care off all the checkbooks and all the bills and my husband calls and asks me if we have the money for him to get such and such. The less my husband knows tho, the better he feels. He likes thinking we are broke. Whatever works.
On the saving part... gift cards. Walmart and ToysRUs for sure have the cards and they don't go down in value. That is a good way to stash money. Everytime you get paid take a little (even just $20) and put it on the card. Don't tell hubby if you don't want to. Then when you NEED it for baby stuffs or for whatever, it will be there.
Have you sat him down with no distractions and shown him your exact budget plan?
Other than that, you could just cry a lot and hope it gets to him that way. I know it's a form of trickery but if it saves you from bankruptcy or a repo or the baby doing without...it is worth it!

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J.T.

answers from Dallas on

first of all, your husband needs to grow up and face reality, financial security and a safety net so to speak is FAR more important than this and that, but it IS very difficult to change habits.

my husband and i have a VERY strict cash budget. i have a large binder type thing that's about 6 inches by 14 inches and it is divided into 15 or 20 sections. i keep one or two business sized envelopes in each section and they have labels such as:

my money - gas, etc.
husband's money - gas, etc.
kids allowance
dog expenses
household expenses
groceries
friends birthdays
christmas
vacation
eating out and entertainment
there's an envelope for each one of our birthday's

there are several more, but you get the idea. i put a set amount in each envelope each month. my husband gets paid on the 1st and the 15th of each month - some envelopes are filled on the 1st, some on the 15th. now, there is typically a little extra in each envelope, but it's a little more tricky when you first start. give it a shot and see how it does. congrats on the new baby!

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A.O.

answers from Dallas on

I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan also and we're currently members of his Total Money Makeover website and are working the babysteps. Check out his book and with all honesty, Dave would tell your husband to grow up already with his money because it has to stop. On the one hand, make sure in your budget that you have some "blow" money that he can blow on whatever. That may help. Good luck!

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N.H.

answers from Dallas on

Good for you! I would suggest 3 seperate bank accounts. One for the house. You will have to decide how much you have to pay yourself. This account is just for paying bills, taxes, groceries etc. A second and third account that are seperate for each of you. This basically is your allowance account...if you want new shoes and a pedicure and the $ is there then great...if he wants another gadget or wings with guys and the $ is there then great. No bulking at each other on what you each spend from your own accounts. If save all of your funds to fly away to visit aunt b then so be it. I would recommend you also think about christmas. It will babies first christmas and we new moms tend to go crazy. My trick for saving for tmas with 3 girls is to buy gift cards all year long...walmart, toysrus, old navy where ever i klike and at christmas i buy their gift with the gift cards and i am not out any direct cash. A 25.00 gift card here and there really adds up and i don't feel the pinch at christmas. Good luck in your planning and new baby. I'm usre some of the spendign will settle down once the baby is here. Men tend to react different once the talked about human is actually in their arms. The whole future flashes before their eyes...activites, cars, prom, college, wedding. That usually settles them down.

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C.B.

answers from Wausau on

I don't have and advice but it's good you asked this question... a lot of good answers here, I think my problem with spending is restaurants, I don't like cooking, I just ordered Dave Ramsey's book, its good to see all the good reviews here.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

How is he getting ahold of the money he is spending?

If it is credit card or checking account, take them away and only alot a certain amount of cash per week, PERIOD! ie: He gets "paid" $200 on each Monday for the week, and that is all-no credit card, ATM, check book, etc! And do it to both you and him so it doesn't seem like a punishment, just a learning lesson for the both of you! We did it and it really makes you aware of what you spend on a normal day!

Best of luck!
T.

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A.B.

answers from Dallas on

Take away his cards and give him a cash allowance.

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L.R.

answers from Dallas on

Dave Ramsey has excellent information. You can find out about him at DaveRamsey.com

D.B.

answers from New York on

A good way to save a few hundred dollars in a year for your kid's clothing budget is a site called GumdropSwap (http://gumdropswap.com). You can swap from anywhere in the US by sending the clothes your kids outgrow to this kids boutique in CT. They give you points to shop on the website and send you a box of clothes that fit your kids. I've been a member for about 6 months and became friends with the owner because I was in there so much, lol.

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C.P.

answers from Abilene on

My husband and I have been trying to get a budget going for the last couple months and it is sooo easy to just not pay attention to what we are doing! We are finally getting it under control. First problem is that he said I have control and just to let him know what he can spend. This will not work. To have a budget for a couple, both people need to sit down and go over it and have a say in what will happen so that everyone has an appreciation and knows what the other person is expecting. Another thing is that you can't just say this is how much there is and then go out and swipe the debit card at every turn. We have decided that on the first of the month we will pay all of the bills or at least have a good estimate of the ones that haven't come in yet and then cash the rest of the money for the month. Don't take the debit card or checks out again that month, unless you have an emergency. We have estimated how much of what it left should go to groceries, gas, and any extras including entertainment. After the first month you will have a better idea for the next month and sometimes you have to change things up a little because of extra bills. If you have a wad of cash in front of you, you know that is the limit and you will have to be smart with what you have. Banking online also helps. I don't know if this applies to you, but we get paid twice a month and I have both paychecks transfer to savings right after they hit checking and then on the first of each month we have what has been decided to be what we can live on transferred to checking. That way you know exactly how much you are working with each month. Aside from any good ideas that you may get, it just takes teamwork and diligence. It isn't easy to change spending habits. Your husband has to be drawn into this process somehow so that you are both on the same page. Good luck.

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D.B.

answers from Dallas on

Getting your husband on board for a budget can be hard (I have a friend who has the same problem, and has for the last 5 years or so - they have 2 kids and one on the way now.) The only way a budget will work is for you to do it together. Several people have already given you good ideas for that. Without him on board, the best thing for YOU to do (since you really CAN'T control his actions, no matter how much you may want to) is to do what you can to lower the part YOU can control. Bargain shop, use coupons, use the adds you get and take them to Wal-mart to get them to match prices. I have a friend with a blog dedicated entirely to saving money when you go shopping. She can get (and I don't understand how completely, but she does) a $75-100 shopping bill down to around $25-30. It may help you out. It's www.groceries4less.blogspot.com

Good luck

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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

You may have to go to counseling. Guys don't like reading books, but if there is a Pastor or someone at your church who he can be accountable to it will help him. He's been spending while someone else has been paying the bill, it's time he learns to grow up.
He also needs to respect you; do you have family in the area that you can go to? You have been given some good advise, but if reading someones book doesn't work you need another plan to fall back on, including going to parents or a Pastor to ask for advise.

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D.W.

answers from Dallas on

Hi M.,
I would focus more on what you are trying to accomplish with a budget rather than the idea of sticking to a budget. For instance I had been trying to get my husband on a budget for about 2 years (after hearing about Dave Ramsey). But I had no success with getting him on board. Then I switched gears and started with baby steps. I got him to agree to helping me build an emergency savings amount of $1,000.00. He agreed, so for the next 1 1/2 months we worked to that and actually saved $1,500.00. So decide what you are worried about or what your goal is and work with him on that. If you are saving money b/c you are going to stay home with the baby for a period of time or on-going, then approach it from that perspective in terms of what's needed monthly for that to happen. Give him small chunks of this budget idea to to deal with. He may be feeling some axieity (sp) about the baby coming and is spending money as a way of maintaining some form of freedom. Congrats on your new baby!

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D.S.

answers from Dallas on

Dave Ramsey all the way. Get his book. It has changed our lives and spending habits.

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A.M.

answers from Dallas on

I second the Dave Ramsey suggestion. He has made a difference in so many people's lives. Like everyone else said, you need to only use cash and when it is gone, it is gone. Keep your cash divided into envelopes for gas money, paying bills, food, and a small amount (if you can afford it) of blow money to use on going to dinner or something nice. You can add more envelopes, but try to keep it simple for now. At the end of the budget period (2 weeks or a month depending on your pay checks) take the money that is leftover in your envelopes and put it into savings, or pay off debt if you have it. You can keep the blow money and let if accumulate if you want to save for something nice.
It worked for us!

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A.K.

answers from Dallas on

M.

My husband is also not great with money, but he knows it and lets me handle it. If your husband will come to that point, you can make it work. The cash thing is a great idea, but for us it doesn't work too well because he tends to give cash away. He is very generous (something I admire), and if someone needs something, he will give away all his money. Or he loses it sometimes. So I got him a credit card with a limit for the amount of money he will need each month (for gas, lunch at work, his personal whatever, a pre-set budgeted amount), and then I pay it off every month. If you don't want to get a credit card, a visa gift card would work the same way. Sometimes, he runs out of money and his card won't work. I just tell him maybe he should fill out some of those forms to be reimbursed for all the stuff he has bought for work! I don't expect him to use the card to buy groceries, pay when we go out to eat or anything. It's all fair. Maybe it would work for you.

To save money on food, we get Angel Food most months. You don't have to qualify for it or anything, it's kind of like a co-op. It's about $60 worth of groceries for $30. If you don't have to eat organic, and aren't a vegetarian, it saves you money.

I could go on and on with ways to save money. If you want me to, send me a note. If this is enough, I'll be quiet now!

A.
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D.G.

answers from Dallas on

Sticking to a budget is really hard. My husband and I have been trying to do it as well and sometimes have better success than others. He is sort of the opposite of your husband. He was the oldest of 7 children so they didn't have alot. So, now he says if he sees something he wants he's going to buy it. Anyway, debit cards are really dangerous. It's so easy to spend money with them and not realize how much you're spending. If you can, take them out of your wallet altogether. If you've already created your budget, they you know how much you've alloted each month for discretionary purposes. Give this to your husband in cash and when it's gone, it's gone. I would also recommend visiting www.daveramsey.com. He's a financial expert who really focuses on teaching people how to budget and get out of debt. There's alot of good information on his site. Good luck!!

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J.M.

answers from Tyler on

M.:

My suggestion:Sit down and list each monthly expense/amount and total outgo for the month (include your food and fuel for automobile in this). Then figure what your monthly income is. Anything left over, then you and your husband figure out what to do with it. I always have a "Miscellaneous" category for unexpected expenses and I put $ into this category weekly also just as I put funds into all the other categories (Mortgage, Utilities, Car Insurance, Taxes, Tithe, Medical, etc.) ALWAYS GIVE!

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