This all started when we signed up for automatic bill pay with our bank. A banking error led to 2 checks being cut for our rent in the same week... This was before I was bringing home pay checks, after we moved in to our new place (with a higher rent), and when many other bills were due (like car insurance and the phone bill). Needless to say, this sent us deep in to the negative. And then you get the fees piled on top of that for over drafting your account. And we had a small savings. Very small.
The bank owned up to their error, but because of the amount that had been taken out and that it was in the form of an already written check, we were told it would take 5-7 DAYS to get that money back in to our account. I was terrified. Honestly terrified. We had a credit card that we were using for groceries and gas but had put a couple things on (which would NOT have been a big deal because we totally had the money to pay it) so the available balance was quite low.
Thankfully, my man got on that and was respectful, but firm, went up the ladder at the bank and talked with someone who got us the money back that next day (people, I'm talking it was about 2 grand with the rent and all those stupid fees they tacked on - that is A LOT of money to us). I never wanted to experience that again. So when we were visiting some awesome friends of ours, I saw Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover on their bookshelf and I felt it calling my name.
The Mister and I are young - 23 and 22 years young (it literally just took me 10 seconds to remember how old I am... geez!) and managing finances wasn't something we were taught at home or at school. That isn't anyones fault- that is just how it was for us growing up. So we are learning as we go, and what we learned from the bank debacle was we needed to do something different.
We are not crazy spenders, by any stretch of the imagination. RARELY do we buy new clothes. We don't go out to eat an excessive amount. The problem was that we didn't see where our money was going. Checkbooks have those ledgers that you can write your charges and balance in for your bank account, but I did NOT use that. My checkbook has those little sheets behind each check that carbon copies each check you write so I always knew what my checks were for and how much they were (sorry I don't know what that nifty tool is really called). The stories in Dave's book (and most of the people who follow Dave's plan) are deep in debt and have lived a life where they blow money to maintain an image or just try to survive (like the amazing stories of single mothers having to put charges on credit card to support their children's basic needs). We aren't deep in debt. We aren't trying to maintain an image. We just flat out didn't know how to take care of our money. And we want to do so in a biblical manner.
When I looked at where the money had gone on our one income family, I had just graduated (and graduating is more expensive than anticipated) so our modest cushion that we kept in the account had been spent. Plus, moving isn't cheap, either.
This is where we stand - 3 months in, we have a budget set, plans for saving for specific things, we talk more about money (instead of let it stress us out), and plans to pay off our debts. Since we are young and starting this young, our only debts are a small amount due on The Mister's truck and a few student loans for me (which I am still in a grace period for until the middle of November). An emergency fund is in place and we are saving for Chris to finish his degree.
We will definitely tell you guys more about the budget and the ways we are living a financially healthier life in more posts. Questions, comments, and post suggestions are welcomed!