Budgeting for Success: Plan & Purpose Your Money

Guest post from Chelsey Hall

One of my challenges as a homemaker is making our budget work. I think I can safely say that for many women, paying the bills and managing the money falls in our department.

Growing up, I was not really taught how to manage my money, and unfortunately neither was my husband. Our combined lack of experience led us to many a downfall when it came to our finances early in our marriage. I’m sad to say, we even got to a point where we had to file for bankruptcy.

It wasn’t until many years later, and mistake after mistake of mishandling and mismanaging our money that we were introduced to programs like Financial Peace University, by Dave Ramsey and Crown Financial. A friend of mine gave me a book called Total Money Makeover and it changed our financial lookout in a huge way.

I won’t go in to all the details of how these programs work but I thought I would share five key ways, which I have found helps us budget for success.

How to Budget

1. Evaluate Spending Habits
Each January, we sit down and look over our spending from the previous year. We take some time to talk over and evaluate our spending habits and ask questions such as: are there any areas where we see we over spent? Are there areas we want to spend more on {i.e. giving, birthdays, home improvement, etc}? How does our savings look? Were we able to save anything extra? Are there any things we have {i.e. extra phone lines, cable, etc} that we can cut out to save a little?

2. Be Diligent In Recording Spending Habits

As much as possible, keep a record of everything you spend and write it down. Whether you do it as you go, once a week, or once a month… just do it. This will REALLY help you see where your money is supposed to go, where it is going, and where you need to make changes. There are SO many programs and forms you can use to do this. I am a simple girl, so I needed a simple form. So I’ve taken some that are out there, tweaked them and made them my own.

You can download this one: Simple Monthly Budget Form and use it as it, or change it up and make it your own. (This is an excel form. If you don’t have excel you can get Open Office for free,)

3. Set all bills to be due within three to five days after payday.
After all the heartache and money issues we went through at the beginning of our marriage, I finally realized how important it was to pay the people I owe money to first before spending anything! The best thing I ever did was call each and every creditor {mortgage company, gas/electric company, phone/cable… everyone!} and ask them to change my due to date of my bill to the first week of each month. My husband gets paid once a month on the 27th of the month. We use online bill pay (which I would HIGHLY recommend if you are not doing this already) and on the 27th of each month, I go in and within five minutes all my bills are paid for the month. Then, I know exactly how much money I have left over to budget for the rest of the month for everything else.

This won’t work exactly like this for everyone, because some folks get paid twice a month, or even once a week. But, you can still work the formula. Just look at when you get paid and then set up your bills to be paid accordingly.
What this does is ensure that you don’t wind up towards the end of the month not being able to pay a bill because you’ve already spent it on something else!

4. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it.
This is cliché… I know, but it is the BEST advice anyone ever gave us. And really, it’s such a simple thing. If you don’t have the money for it, or you know the money you have is budgeted for another area, don’t use it. Put it on your wish list and save for it until you can get it debt free.

5. Plan ahead.
I know not everyone is a born “planner” but, the more you can plan ahead the better you are going to be able to stick to your budget. Sit down and think about all the birthdays in your family, and then make a birthday budget for each month. Do the same thing for Christmas, vacations and special occasions that might come up through the year.

The same thing applies to your grocery menu. When you can plan meals ahead for the week or even the month, it will cut down on last-minute fast food runs or more expensive meals that are unplanned.

Budgeting for success takes a little work, but it can be done. The biggest challenge is finding what works for you and your family and then putting it in to practice. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you a few months to find your “groove”.


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  1. Laura says

    Another financial move that saved my husband and me from lots of arguments was budgeting a certain amount of money per paycheck for each of us to spend however we pleased. Before we did that, there was a lot of friction about spending too much on unnecessary things while still wanting to purchase things just because we want them. 

    Now we have our personal money that we are free to blow on our hobbies or whims without messing up the budget or needing to “ask permission.” I’m more of a saver, so I set up a separate checking account for myself where I transfer my money and it sits there til I want it. He usually spends all of his so he just withdraws the cash.


    • says

      I like this!  I started taking a certain amount each time my dh gets paid and put it in a jar just for him, so he always has a “stash” to play with and doesn’t feel like I’m taking all of his money and he is stuck with nothing.  It has worked out GREAT for us several months so I am so glad I tried it.

  2. Stacy @ Stacy Makes Cents says

    We started with a budget on day 1 of our marriage. I know it’s what has helped us be debt free and let me stay at home with my babies. :-) Budgets rock.

  3. says

    My DH and I have been fairly careful with our money throughout our married life, but this is the first year I feel we are really on the same page money-wise. At the end of 2011, we sat down and hashed out a working money plan for the year, and even developed “policies” for ourselves regarding what situations we would consider withdrawing from savings and the like. I’m really excited to see what we will accomplish! In the past, we’ve survived on our income; I’m hoping this year to thrive!

  4. says

    These are great tips! It’s sad we have to go through so much to come back to just sheer common sense, huh? Thankfully, we found those resources before we got married, but not before I did some really dumb things. We now do everything you mentioned, and it WORKS SO WELL!!! Great post, Chelsey!

  5. says

    I am learning to live with a budget now, I have made plenty of them, but living by them is different.  I have for several months used YNAB program which is simple and then I have the app on my iphone.  Now sitting down this week to revamp a budget that is workable as I have been tracking all of our spending since November last year.  I’m excited to tell the money where it will go, instead of it telling me.  We work for tips in our house, so its our main income and I never know how much we will get…so I changed most of our bills except a few to the very last week of the month…and I know the total I need to pay them all.  So the goal now is to make sure I have that amount of money before spending it on anything else.  This will help keep things from being late also.  YNAB helps you start building a buffer so that you are one month ahead…not there yet, but it is my goal.  Thank you for your great tips!

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