One thing that Bret and I have started to be really aware of is our budget. We’ve used Mint (totally free and amazing for budgeting and goals) for about 3 years. It’s helped us have a good picture of what we’re actually spending, not what we think we’re spending. As Bret has been growing his real estate investing business, there have been a whole lot of mindset shifts, growth, and thinking about things differently (for both of us). One thing we’ve started to do is have a weekly “finances meeting.” We look at our budgets, how close we are to going over, and looking at our net worth. We’ve started to keep our “envelope accounts” (one for taxes, one for bills, one for real estate, etc) as Capital One 360 savings accounts. What’s great about that is we’re earning interest on them every month. It’s great seeing our passive income grow, just by keeping our money there. I added a section to our spreadsheet that now lists all of those envelope accounts and our Roth IRA accounts. It’s awesome seeing our total net worth going up. I’ve found keeping a weekly eye on our budgets has been helpful. It lets us see if we have room to add in something fun or not. It also lets us know if we won’t meet our budget for something, and quickly see where we’ll have to move money from another category (basically, it’s less going to savings).
So what used to give me major anxiety, guilt, and shame (because of our debt), now brings encouragement, and accuracy.
What do you do to keep track of your finances?
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Today while doing the bills, I was just completely humbled and in awe of how awesome God is and how He’s used different financial situations to bring us closer together and closer to Him.
If you’ve read our blog for any amount of time, you know we’ve had our struggles, including, but not limited to:
– Bret losing his job when I wasn’t making a lot from photography
– Moving back in with my parents
– Having to go two years between visits to Bret’s family
– Not going out with friends because of tight money
Over the last 3-4 months or so, we’ve had an incredible shift in our finances. Now we have:
– two steady incomes, give or take a few bucks here and there
– a 6 month emergency fund
– two savings accounts that would essentially give us another 3 months in said emergency fund
– a very large friends account (For a long time, we’ve set aside money to do things with friends and/or take trips together. So when we offer to buy someone dinner, we can legitimately say, dude, we HAVE money to do this, we love you and want to bless you)
– the ability to take trips. We’re even taking a mini getaway tomorrow for the 8 year anniversary of meeting….now before you think I’m straight up crazy about remembering dates….I met Bret 2 days after the huge Valentine’s day snow storm that shut down the state. It’s just an easy date to remember. I couldn’t tell you the day we started dating. The only reason I can remember the day he proposed is because it was the beginning of the financial year at a previous job. 😉
– the ability to actually get a lobster dinner (it’s silly, but this is one thing I’ve been waiting a long time to get!)
– the ability to realistically plan a trip to Disney World. I cannot tell you how long I have been wanting to go.
I say all this not to say, wow! Look at us and our amazing money skills! But to say, wow, look at how much God did through us and taught us over the years….and look at how much He’s blessed us! It’s truly humbling!
So fellow traveler in this fallen world, take heart, God will care for you and give you your daily bread….even if it doesn’t look like what you think it should be.
And just for kicks, here’s my lobster dinner again. 🙂