Budgeting Q&A with Republic Member & Blogger – The Teacher’s Wife

Say hello to Republic Wireless member and Blogger, Sarah! Sarah’s blog, The Teacher’s Wife, focuses on all things related to sticking to a family oriented budget. From tips on financial planning and organization, to more personal notes, Sarah offers a variety of relatable and inspiring content.

We recently sat down with Sarah to catch up on her budgeting styles. Specifically how that plays out with her family and everyday household expenses. She shared the best budgeting advice she has received. We learned how that’s carried into her and her Husband’s monthly and daily financial decisions. Take a look at the great budgeting tips and tricks she shared!

What are you doing to stabilize things in your family budget during this time of uncertainty?

Our budgeting process hasn’t changed a whole lot during this time of uncertainty. After a lot of effort over the years, we are in a good rhythm when it comes to creating and tracking our family budget.

However, we have been even more intentional with our spending.  We are more committed than ever to sticking to our budget in these times of uncertainty.  We already keep our expenses as low as possible (we don’t have cable and we are Republic Wireless customers), but we have made some slight adjustments such as pausing our gym membership.

Thankfully, we have 6 months of expenses saved in a money market account for emergencies and we do not have debt other than our home.  This brings us a lot of peace in the uncertainty.

What is your process for monthly budgeting?

Within our household, I’m the “budget nerd.”  I like to crunch the numbers and create a plan, so I’ve always been very interested in budgeting.  I used to do this on an old Excel spreadsheet, but this became frustrating to my husband over the years.  He never had real-time access to the spreadsheet, so we weren’t on the same page as the month would unfold.

About a year ago, we started using the EveryDollar app and it has transformed the way we communicate about our budget.  I still crunch the numbers and create a preliminary budget based on the monthly income and bills.  Then, my husband and I sit down together to review, adjust, and agree to the final numbers before any bills are paid.

As the month unfolds, we each enter transactions into the app so we know at all times where we stand.  Each week, we sit down together for a few minutes to see where we are, so that we stay on track and make any needed course corrections.

What are some small everyday changes that someone can start making to ease into their budgeting goals?

If you are new to budgeting, be patient with yourself as you learn.  It can take a good 3 months before you feel more confident in your ability to budget.  You will make mistakes as you learn, but don’t give up!

As you begin, start slowly.  Pick one specific category where you will focus your efforts.  This could be anything – but I recommend your grocery or restaurant budget.  Either way, pick 1 category and focus on it for 30 days.  Set a reasonable budget for the category and STICK TO IT.  Once the money you’ve allocated has been spent, then STOP SPENDING.  If you habitually struggle with overspending, you might consider using cash only (yes, dollar bills!) for that category.

How often do you find yourself needing to revisit or shift around your budget, and for what reasons? 

We do our best to create a reasonable budget at the beginning of the month, but things come up that we didn’t foresee.  My husband and I touch base once a week for a “budget meeting” so that we can see how things are going and make any tweaks.  One category that we recently started was a miscellaneous budget.  This category helps for those random expenses that you can’t always predict – things like yearbooks, field trips, etc.

We also have separate savings account (that we call sinking funds) for things like home repairs, car repairs, and medical expenses.  Often things like a plumbing leak that needs to be repaired will come out of this account if we don’t have the wiggle room or ability to adjust in our monthly budget to cover the expense.

What is some of the best financial advice you’ve received that has always stuck with you?

The best financial advice I’ve ever received is very, very basic – if you can’t pay cash for it, then you can’t afford it.  In a world that operates on credit, this concept is archaic, but it’s so true.  If we don’t have the money to pay for something in cash (or from our checking account), then we don’t buy it.

This advice, and our commitment to avoid debt, has helped us to keep our spending in check.  This allows us to give to others, save for the future and also enjoy some of our money – stress free.

Have you found success in teaching the art of budgeting to your kids? If so, what tools have you used for teaching simple budgeting skills and ideas to different ages?

Most of our discussions about budgeting have been on the fly as we go about our day-to-day life.  The kids observe us talking about and handling money, so they sometimes ask questions about it.  They’ve also seen us give them a budget for things like birthday gifts for their friends.  Up until this point, most of what they’ve learned has been through normal, everyday life situations.

We have just begun to be more intentional with teaching our kids about budgeting, so we are very new to it.  We recently purchased a teaching tool that we’ve been using a little bit.  We’ve begun to work through the material and the kids love earning a little bit of commission if they do their extra weekly chores.  This has been very helpful in teaching them financial responsibility.  They are learning how to give, save, and spend their own money, even if it’s only a couple of dollars per week.

Sarah is one of many Republic Wireless members who have gone on their own personal journey to financial wellness. We’re encouraged and taking our own notes after our conversation together! Make sure to hop on over to
The Teacher’s Wife for a variety of topics on household budgeting and organization.

Do you have some budgeting insights of your own to share alongside Sarah? Perhaps there is something you do similarly in your own personal budget. We’d love to hear about it. Reply below in our Member Community and share any financial knowledge you find beneficial!

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