“My goal with money has always been to not have to think about it. I’ve lived below the poverty line, and have had to pay attention to every dollar. I know plenty of people who spend their weekends seeing where they can cut costs or writing out expenses for the following week. I have nothing against that, if it works for them. But I’ve found that automatic budgeting helps us best.
Every so often, my husband and I sit down and do some collaborative thinking about our finances. Once we make decisions about where our money is going, we automate as much as possible. Our savings deductions are automatic. Our charity giving is automatic. Our bills are normalized (electric and gas are both balanced for the year) and automatic. We do use a credit card to balance out the lean and heavy months, but we don’t live on it. We budget with the idea that as long as we’re saving and consistent, everything else takes care of itself.
When we had debt, our payments were also automated. We wrote out our debt and the interest rate, compared to the time it would take to pay off, and drew up a strategy. We utilized a combination of debt stacking (paying off the highest interest rate first) and debt snowball (paying off the lowest amount first). We set the payments, and when one debt got paid off, we focused on the next one on the list. We are now debt free and planning on staying that way.
Even post-debt, my husband and I still used automated budgeting principles. Whenever either of us got a raise, we would slightly raise our individual spending allowance. We could also add some small standard of living increases like furniture or kitchen equipment upgrades. We’re now looking at options for how to be even more strategic and start investing.
Our strategy of automatic budgeting has provided a lot of relief for us. We don’t really think about finances more than once or twice a year. I think it’s most important for people to find their own strategies when it comes to handling debt and spending. While there’s not one method that fits all, budgeting can be worked into any lifestyle.”
- Most recognize that budgeting is important, but starting your own might feel awkward — especially if you don’t think you’re as financially focused as others. The good thing about budgeting is there’s more than one right way to do it. Take a look at 5 simple budgeting methods that you can experiment with.
- The road to financial independence takes turns that seem difficult at first, but turn out to be liberating. Challenging yourself to cut costs in areas where you haven’t before is a great way to open your budget. One example is cutting the cord on expensive cable bills. See our complete cord-cutting guide.
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Personal finance can be difficult to navigate, and everyone’s story is different. This series is about sharing experiences of people just like you — the good and the bad — to empower the TSD community. Through your stories, voices will be heard, lessons will be learned, and wins will be celebrated!