Money, money, money. It's always hard to talk about it isn't it? I always half dread that moment of the month when we sit together and look at our finances and organize everything in the handy spreadsheets that the boy created for that purpose (I am more of a paper-lover kind of gal, who's always keeping tickets or else I forget where the money went).
We have quite a list of places we'd like to travel to, some of which are an ocean away. If we really want to make that happen we are going to have to save. Actually, saving is one of our general objectives, so our budget already contemplates setting some money apart every month. So what is this going to mean? Well, it'll mean being very aware of where the money is going. I don't usually spend big quantities of money in one go. If I ever make a "big" purchase (like a fancy cocktail dress, a new coat, boots) it is often after thinking long and hard if I really need or want said item, after a thorough analysis. That's why it took us so long to get our beloved KitchenAid, (1 year and a half after the wedding, even if we actually did not pay for it, since we used the last bit of our wedding gift certificates at a department store)*. But news flash: little amounts add up. If I don't consciously think / organize / budget myself I can spend a lot in small things: a cup of coffee there, a notebook here, that pretty binder, baking supplies+ingredients, pocket books, train and bus tickets...
It is pretty straightforward though, you have an income and you have expenses. You should always make sure that you spend less than you have. In our case, to increase our saving rate we'll have to cut down some expenses, and since there are some things that can not be cut out (like insurance, or the mortgage) we have to cut from other places: our grocery spending, the "fun" (going out) + "extras" (birthday gifts, treats, etc.) budget. We also do not use credit cards except for the absolute necessary (online payments where it's the only payment option), and in that case we make sure we pay straight away, or maximum within 3 months. We are lucky enough that the education system in Europe is subsidized so we did not have to get study loans (and I was blessed to get a Swiss scholarship). Other than for the house we are strongly against getting debt or stuff on credit (like a car). For instance, we'd only get a car if we could pay for it in its entirety. The boy just reminded me that we've also recently changed TV / internet and insurance companies, so this will mean a total of EUR 800 saved in the whole year. (I knew this but I completely forgot).
Anyhow, as it is we are basically living on 1 salary (and we are incredibly lucky to be able to do so). Sure we don’t spend loads on money, we are quite good at the saving game, like I said, at least it is something that we both aspire to and when we make big purchases (like a DSLR camera this christmas) it is after a lot of thought and research…. For instance we actually got this camera and simultaneously decided not to have any other presents, it was THE present. It is also true that when I was working, that is, up until last September, my full salary went to savings or was used for stuff like tickets to Mexico. In my experience, when possible, this arrangement works quite well.
Budgeting is hard but I think living alone as a student helped me get good at it: there were certain things I wanted (like books!) for which I saved and certain others I didnt care for at the time (like my nutrition, so I lived on pasta + tomato sauce + oatmeal + milk) for which I didn’t spend a lot. But it is just a matter of organizing and compromising. It comes down to "we really want A, so let’s not do B for now."
Do you have any budgetting tricks under your sleeve? How do you deal with all of this?
*I have to say it was the best decision ever, baking and being able to tackle complicated recipes and continously learn has been like therapy for me.
** I just found Mayi Carles' blog, Heartmade (thanks Marcela) and if you like organization tips,
*** image by the talented Mayi Carles, really go there !