The Budget Update


I’m cheap frugal. That’s always been my way. I’ve never owned a brand new car. Both of my girls’ cribs were hand-me-downs from our friends. I bought a rolling pin (my first, last weekend) that cost me $2.11 after patiently waiting and getting a $10 off coupon for any purchase at a store. Now that I’m a mom, I’m even more terrible about buying myself new things.

However, in September, I told the world (okay, those of you reading) that we were starting a budget using the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey as our guide. We started the budgeting process then, and October was the first month on the budget.

It’s been tough. Not tough like poverty level tough, but tough like life changing tough. When there isn’t any cash left in the dining out envelope, we can’t go out. When there isn’t any cash left in the grocery envelope, we eat what we have. When your kid throws a toothbrush in your toilet and you have buy a new one? You figure out which envelopes to take the money from and you make it through the month.

Guess what? It works.

It is definitely something you must commit to wholeheartedly, faithfully, and together.

We have now completed SEVEN months of the budget. It’s amazing how much money we’ve found by not spending on frivolous things (like trips to Target) or unnecessary meals out. We’ve gone from spending all of our monthly income to saving a huge amount at the end of the month. And, that’s with me getting furlough days and a pay cut!

I updated the major successes in mid-October. The following months were just working towards our debt snowball and paying it down.

In the middle of March, just 16 months after purchasing our minivan, we paid it off! We don’t have a car payment at all (I hope I’m not jinxing us). I was hoping the computer threw some confetti at me or something. Sadly, it was quite anti-climatic sending the payment off. I think I can settle on knowing that my girls are riding with me safely in a paid-off vehicle.

We now only have our student loans and our house! It’s quite refreshing that we’ve made such progress in less than a year. At the same time, we look back and think of how much money we wasted and where we would be now if we hadn’t. We are glad we are doing this now, and we are looking forward to what is in store for us while we continue to use our money wisely and make good choices.

Do you have a budget? Are you on a cash only system? Is it working for you?

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  1. I can truly appreciate this!!! I stopped using credit cards 3 years ago and made the final payment on them last week. It was a long and hard journey learning to live on what you make, but it is SO worth it!!! I LOVE being debt free!

  2. Wow, you're doing great! Dh and I have all the Dave Ramsey books and cds, but we need to actually start using the program!

    I have to say that we saved a lot of money for the past 6 months just because we lived so far from places like Target. No impromtu trips to go grab one thing that turns into $100 here and there.

    Now, we're in town and I'm going to have to really think about it so that we don't go back to that type of spending!

  3. WOOHOO…congrats!! Very inspiring! I'm glad you convinced us to go to the cash system as well. Although I wish some of that frugal stuff would rub off on me. 😉

  4. My husband and I are on a cash-only budget of about $300 each a month. That money covers food, gas, and any other expenses we have, including the vet bills, puppy food, etc. I wanna look into the method you used, thanks for posting what it was/who it's by.

    We have maaaajor student loans to pay off, and would like to buy a house… someday 🙂

  5. That's awesome! Glad to hear its working out for you. My hubby and I are currently in the middle of a Dave Ramsey class threw our church called the "Financial Peace University" It has been a real eye opener to a lot of things. We have started a budget…but we are still really rusty when it comes to following it, well me more so then my hubby. :S

  6. Woohooo!! Congrats to yall! What a blessing to be working towards being debt free.

    We did DR for a while, but it got too confusing/difficult with us working in different towns, always running impromptu errands on the way home with the other person having the cash. It turned into a nightmare for us, haha! We've gotten on track enough though that we have auto-deposits straight into our retirement and savings on the first of the month so we never/see or touch that money. We are trying to see how long we can live solely on one income so we can save as much as possible pre-baby!

    Reading this has convicted me to look at our spending a little harder, thanks for the push!

  7. Yayyyy I"m so impressed. I've read the Dave Ramsey stuff too and am on board but fiance is not there yet so we're trying to 'do our best'. As we begin wedding planning I'm sure it will get more intense but I'm open to it being tighter cause I want other things to be paid off.

    Thankfully we just have student loans (well I do) but they're enormous so its overwhelming sometimes. But weddings, houses, and kids are in short order so thats the difficult parts:)

  8. That is awesome, Krystyn!!

    We use the cash system and it really helps cut down on frivolous spending! We are working on paying off our mortgage as well. As long as nothing major (like illness or a new baby!) puts a kink in our plan, we should have the mortgage paid off in 2 years!!

  9. That's fantastic!! Congrats to you guys. I just paid off my car too and we'd already eliminated any credit card debt a long time ago. Right now we are watching what we spend since I'm not getting paid and it's working great. It's amazing what we can live without 🙂

  10. I'll throw confetti for you here… (or maybe paper shreds – its cheaper! haha!!!)

    That's awesome you paid off your vehicle that quickly – so impressive!

    I tried the Dave Ramsey thing & I'm just not a "cash" person.. plus, my husband wasnt on board at all, so it didnt work for us… but I try to really watch where I spend my money… I use & LOVE that – it shows where everything goes since I'm a debit card person…

  11. That is awesome! I know it's not easy to make 'good' changes sometimes!!! I have been debt free since 2000 & am so thankful. We make all our decisions based on what will continue to keep up out of debt. Sometimes we do without and oftentimes we find a wonderful deal that is perfect. We do use credit cards but we treat them like debit cards, we still budget and deduct the amount spend out of the account and then each month we pay the entire balance off the card! That way we don't carry cash and we have reward points that add up to about 200-300 $ in gift cards each year- yay!!! Anyway, just sharing! Love that you are seeing that light at the end of the tunnel and be encouraged that it is worth it :)-

  12. I'm currently on a budget. I spend wayyyyyy toooo much. It's really bad, actually and financially… ick. I have to stop NOW. I'm on a spending freeze. Hoping it lasts…

  13. I definitely don't have a set budget so to speak, but I have a budget. Meaning…I know what my limits are. I could probably be slightly better about things, but sadly, I don't feel like I have the time to sit down and figure it out.

    Hopefully this summer I will! 🙂

  14. That is wonderful! Congrats! I am looking into this, we so need this!!

  15. I like to refer to myself as thrifty. I find people spend far more then they can afford on credit so I only use cash or debit for my purchases and it works well for me.

    Congrats on paying off your mini-van in such a small amount of time. Maybe since you don't have that envelope anymore you could replace it with a another one titled "vacation" or "gifts our us" so you can treat yourselves to something special.

  16. Girl, I wish I had the self control to stay out of Target!
    That is so awesome though! You guys have done a great job!!

  17. We are doing an envelope system, too, and you are right – it is tough – but if it helps us save for a house sooner, it's worth it!

  18. Yea! What a great feeling, isn't it. So proud of you guys and BTW I think it's pretty cool that you are open to sharing what you've learned with us through budgeting, not everyone would do that.


  19. Smart A$$ Mom says:

    I am always so happy for you when I read these posts, Krystyn. I know what an awesome feeling of accomplishment you must feel. Yes, we have a budget. I may not be able to tell you the cold hard numbers to it, but I know it works like this: I spend the money, Tony tells me when to stop. I know that sounds stupid, but this totally works for us.

  20. Wow, that's awesome…I am going to have to use you as motivation when we start the class this summer.

    Actually, the class was supposed to start in May…but got pushed to June because we had trouble buying the material….you can't use a credit card to buy it..go figure, lol!

  21. Glad to hear it is going well for you. You think of all of the money wasted since before you started this budget. No worries, you as a young parent and young yourself are creating a great nest egg for the future. My husband and I are doing the same thing, but we do put more money in the going out envelope. This system reminds me of how tough it was in the beginning for us when we met (I was 30 and he was 35) and we had to budget in car oil changes we wee so broke. But we were so darn happy. I would go back to that in a heart beat. I would have a cookie jar at his house and I would put my extra spending money in it and we would forget about it while eating mac and cheese or top ramen. We despreately wanted the cc bills to be paid off so we could buy a house in 5 years. It worked and like I said we were so happy;. We went back to the savings plan, and are buying a seond house in Myrtle beach next year. We are now in our 40's.. you are smart for doing it now. It can be tough, but really it brings you so much closer. And pass it on to the kids, fugalness is great for getting what you want.

  22. I love your budget updates!! You are amazing 🙂 M and I have nice vehicles but we have never bought a new car and have always shopped around (5 months it took us to find my car) for the best deal. But we don't have vehicle payments either.
    I think when you have a budget and pay off debt you see your net worth increase monthly and your debt decrease. It's a good feeling right!

  23. I wish I could say that I could totally do this!! I'm not horrible and we did just pay off all of our credit cars and medical bills but I still love my Target trips. I do know that if we didn't eat out as much we would say a ton of money. I think that's where a lot of peoples money goes!
    I might try jumping on the bandwagon though and at least TRY!

  24. We try to have our budget but recently with all the sickness here it is so difficult. I'm trying to add another income with our embroidery but not working really well (at least on Etsy).

    Yes, we are only cash people.

  25. a) first can i give a little shout out to the new member of your family?? welcome rolling pin!! yipppeee!!

    b) i am so proud of you two. we blow through cash so we know this system wouldn't work for us (tried it) but we do budget. every two weeks. we pay bills together, talk through the good and the bad and plan for the next two weeks. when we skip our little budget dates – our checkbook suffers. but target is usually happy 🙂

  26. 16 months??? HOLY COW! I may have to give this a whirl!

  27. Wow! That is wonderful. Paying off loans early feels fantastic, doesn't it?

    We were doing the envelope thing, but I have not read Dave Ramsey's books. Lately, things have been crazy with hosting bachelorette/bachelor parties, wedding showers, birthday parties. Our spending has been a little out of control. Hopefully we can get back on track, your post just motivated me….thanks!

  28. Good for you!!

    We read Dave Ramsey about 3 years ago and it really makes so much sense.

    We are a cash only family. My hubby's business is a cash only business too. A lot of his "builder" friends lost everything when the market turned because they owed way more than they were making, but since my husband didn't work off of credit, he was able to keep his comapany going, and keep us going!!

    We got rid of our car payments about a year ago and bought our current cars cash. I still get to drive my Land Cruiser, it's just a few years older now.

    We don't stick to the Ramsey way completely, but the few things we have done have made SO much of a change in our life. It's so freeing to know that what we have is paid for!


  29. wow! TOTALLY AWESOME! We don't carry any CC debt either – pay it off every month – but I can totally see how not using it at all would help…

  30. Totally going to check this out! I really want to put our finances in order and really budget in order to save more…sounds like this works. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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