Mar 21, 2019
[posted by: Hannah]
If it’s not already obvious, budgeting is a big deal to us. We genuinely look forward to our monthly budgeting meeting. Which we have. Yes, every month. And sometimes we can’t even wait until the end of the month and just have to do it early. I wish I was kidding! No I don’t! We’re nerds, guys! We are SO NERDY!
I think our love of budgeting comes down to a feeling of accomplishment as a couple (also: specific to Hannah, probably some unhealthy control-freak tendencies but we won’t go into that). It’s really special to feel like we’re accomplishing something BIG as a couple on a month-to-month basis. Setting long-term goals as well as staying within the month-to-month parameters we’ve set for ourselves has allowed us to stay on the same page and be super-responsible with our money.
We have SO many tips and tools we use to organize, plan and execute our finances, which we plan to dive into over time on this blog! In this post, I’d like to tell you a little more about our general spending and saving philosophies and why we LOVE the way we do things! This will also set up our future posts to make more sense in why we have made the decisions we have!
As Christ-followers, we believe that everything we have been given is a gift from the Lord. As such, we’re responsible for carefully stewarding all that God has given us. Budgeting is simply making a plan for how we’d like to steward God’s gift to us. This is absolutely NOT limited to just giving money away. We budget for vacations, fun date nights out, gift-giving, treating our friends to coffee & lunch, miscellaneous monthly expenditures, and even a category we like to call TREAT YO’ SELF. We also budget for more long-term goals like new cars, a home, and a giant, month-long trip to Europe we took a few years ago. We strongly believe that every dollar we make should have a place, and we keep track of this on a monthly basis.
MAXIMIZING THE DOLLAR
One thing that Evan and I agree on: culture has made most things appear more expensive than they actually are. So when it comes to having fun and spending money, we are all about MAXIMIZING our dollars to get the most out of an experience for the best price. This is always true when it comes to eating out. I have always loved eating out, and this is where I spent most of my pennies as a kid. Evan has always loved saving money, and when we first started dating (haha you can see where this is going) I was often disappointed when he wanted to stay in for dinner OR do a simple, cheap dinner in rather than a fun new recipe. We were new to “adulting” and D.C. is an expensive city. As we grew as a couple, we realized that D.C. is only expensive when you make it expensive. Restaurants are set up to make you THINK that you need a drink (or two), an appetizer, an entree and maybe even dessert. In reality, Evan and I can easily split almost any entree and both be full at the end of the meal. We also can have the EXACT same wine for a fraction of the price BEFORE we go out. When we became wise about what time to go out (happy hour) and how much food we order (split everything! don’t overeat!), we gained the ability to go out way more without spending more on a monthly basis. We also didn’t feel uncomfortably full after every meal out! Everyone wins!
Maximizing our dollars extends far past eating out – how we travel, our hobbies, our home decor, even our exercise regimes all center around the idea of MAXIMIZING what we can get for our money without compromising the experience. We don’t, however, consider ourselves to be bargain-shoppers. Which leads me to . . .
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Somewhere along the path to financial stewardship, many have become BARGAIN SHOPPERS. I’m not saying that finding a good deal on something you really want or need is a bad thing, I’m saying that it doesn’t usually happen that way. Read on, friends.
For most of my life, I believed the “right” thing to do was to go straight to the sale rack at any store and just shop there. The result: many many MANY purchases that I didn’t really want. Let’s back up: why was I at that store in the first place? Was it because there was ONE thing I really needed and I was looking for specifically? Heck no! I was just shopping around because that’s what we do! It wasn’t until the year we were engaged that I looked at my closet and my LIFE and said NO MORE STUFF.
While it didn’t initially start as a journey to minimalism, Evan and I have slowly been working towards a minimalist life since we got married. I stopped shopping. Period. I realized that having a tiny closet filled only with things I loved was infinitely better than my giant closet of things I really didn’t love at all. This extended to other rooms of our home as well. In short: it was time to stop buying it because it was a “good deal” and start buying it because I absolutely loved it.
We strongly believe that this type of lifestyle makes every single one of your purchases super-intentional, and we love that. Because what we enjoy most in life is relationships and experiences, not stuff. And feeling really good about what we buy every time is divine!
Maybe these two sound contradictory? We’ve found a way to make them work so well in our day-to-day lives!
IT’S BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE (REALLY!)
Lastly, we feel strongly about giving. Not just that Biblically-mandated 10% tithe (although we do give at least 10% back to our church every year!), but also in a more nuanced, “open-handed” way.
We plan and budget for all of our earnings, and as two planful, driven, Type A people, sometimes we’ve gotta check ourselves. Are we slow to give and quick to hoard money? Although it’s been a slow, redemptive process, we’re learning little-by-little that it really is better to give than receive! But, we have also found that “giving” can extend in multiple categories – like spending money to build community or one-on-one relationships, helping family and friends in times of unforeseen need, and even treating friends to unexpected gifts and treats. A few solid examples of this: we budget a certain amount of money each month to treat our friends when we got out to eat. We also budget extra in our groceries so that we can host people for dinner without feeling like we’re over-spending at the grocery store. These are little ways we’re learning that giving is a broad category and starts with us loosening our tight grip on our finances.
Maybe you are different than us, and you struggle with entirely different things when it comes to your finances. Or maybe you can relate to one (or all!) of the things we talked about. Either way, we’re really excited to continue to share the way with do life with you guys!