We are well into 2019 now and it has already been an eventful and surprising year for us!
The check engine lights came on in both of our cars, my washing machine broke down, our daughter turned 16 at the end of 2018 and is driving so our insurance jumped way up. It is crazy how little things can add up quickly and truly change everything.
This was especially true for me when Ron was in prison.
I had one income, one person to depend upon to pay every bill—me. It was such a shock when he first went to prison. I had lived with my parents, in a college dorm that my parents paid for, and then with Ron. I had never been financially responsible for my own keep before. Suddenly, there I was, the sole person who was financially responsible for myself plus 2 small children. Talk about a scary change in my life!
As I look back on those years...
I am so very grateful for good friends who gave me great advice over and over again. I had never set a budget before, but I soon learned the importance of having a budget. I learned it the hard way. The, “I am sorry boys, but I don’t have any cash left to buy more toiletpaper this month” way. You know you have made it to the big time when you no longer have to ration the toilet paper!
Budgeting your money
Budgeting your money will add structure, peace, and a sense of control to your home. Creating a budget that works for you and your family truly takes some time to build. Presently, there is a lot to think about. Not only the bills, but prison visits, your children’s activities, gas for your car, food, clothes, insurance, repairs, household items. There are a lot of things we spend our money on every day. It is not a fun process, but the benefits far outweigh the drudgery of creating a budget to live by. And, as an added bonus, you will never run out of toilet paper 😊
One of the most important parts of setting a budget you can live with is to make sure you set it with your family in mind. You must take your lifestyle, your children’s activities, the things they will soon need, and the unexpected expenses that could show up into consideration. I can tell you right now, if your husband is in prison, you do not have enough money to cover everything you want. Furthermore, it most likely that you can’t afford some of the things you need. Which is why it is even more important for you to build a budget!
Budgeting for prison visits is important, but often neglected. When you do not properly budget for visits, you will increase stress in your life in one of 2 ways: either you won’t see your loved one, or you won’t have enough money to pay for other things you need. Neither of these are a good for you or your family.
Here are 5 simple steps to help you set a budget with your family in mind:
- List everything you spend money on. You can do the Category method or the Everything Method. Categories allow you to freely spend within that group of things. Like housing (rent, utilities, taxes, insurance); Food and Household (all food plus everything you need to clean yourselves and your home). I like the Category method the best because I feel like I have more options. Be sure to include donations and offerings you give each month.
- Track how much you spend on each thing for 1 month. (and add anything you missed to the list you created in step 1)
- Now, you are ready to hence build your budget. Assign a maximum amount of money you will spend on each group or category for the month.
- Write down how much you make each month. Compare that amount to the sum of everything you have in your list of expenses. If you do not have enough income to cover what you plan to spend, reduce your budget amounts until you can live within your income AND save money for unexpected repairs or costs.
- STICK TO YOUR BUDGET. This is THE most important part. You are building self-control, self-regulation, financial control, and hence hope for your future as you save money.
Setting a budget with your family in mind accounts for money you are spending for them and it also lays the foundation for your children’s future financial success. Teaching them that is OK to go without things they want right now helps them therefore build an appreciation for delayed gratification. Furthermore, these virtues will serve your family well as you build a new legacy.
I am rooting for you!