But a lot of expenses are coming my way that I am not accustomed to. I've never had to budget for another person, for one thing. That will be totally different! We're going to have to buy a lot more food! But also things like insurance, home repair emergency money, cable/internet, and all that other stuff are newer to me. I'm glad that I got my feet wet moving out and managing my rent, gas, and food away at USF, but I am doing tons of research and preparation for budgeting at the billionth level of what I already do.
It can be overwhelming. I know that I am overly worried compared to a lot of people my age, who've been working already. Something that Darin and I are set on, though, is having the best financial start we can possibly make for ourselves. We want to scratch debt, keep our luxury purchases way down, and have a really good savings base for emergencies squared away before buying new cars or computers. We are lucky that we both have parents who are helping us a lot, from taking care of the wedding to donating furniture they don't want anymore, and I am so excited to learn how to be a good steward of all the blessings we are receiving!
There are some tricks and tips that I am learning about that I want to be held accountable to do:
- Plan our menus like crazy. Basing our meals off store deals and getting some coupons (without going to the extreme) instead of just making up what we want on the spot is cheaper and just as good.
- Buy meat in bulk when it's super-duper on sale and prepare it to freeze, to save money and make it easy to thaw out and cook when the time comes.
- Make more cleaning products from vinegar than purchasing all the different kinds out there for every room in the house. I believe that it works just fine. I am not into disinfecting every last thing, so I think this will be a bargain way to make the house clean if we can handle the smell until it dries!
- Create a cleaning schedule to take care of one or two smaller chores a day, so that things stay in good shape and last longer. All our appliances, furniture, and other fixtures will probably keep in tip top shape!
- Grow some herbs & veggies outside. My dad found some planters at a garage sale and said I could have them if I promise to use them. Apparently mint, basil, and tomatoes aren't horribly difficult to grow. That could be a great saver for money and health! Just gotta keep the bunnies away :)
- Use Groupon or find deals for eating out or doing date nights. One thing I love is that my Discover card has rewards that I can put towards restaurant gift cards and such if I'd like. I'm luckily well-trained and disciplined with credit card use, and so reaping those rewards isn't bad!
- Working out and eating healthy as much as possible. Aren't I lucky I'm marrying a guy who sells memberships to a gym, for crying out loud?! These are the best long-term investments you can make with your money, because you are likely saving yourself medical bills down the line. Same with flossing and brushing your teeth well. All that cuts down the co-pays we could be shelling out for cholesterol medicine or root canals.
We both have struggled to treat this important component of faith and participating in Christ's body as important. It's a huge blessing to us and our brothers and sisters when we give what we have to support reaching others with the gospel and meeting both their practical and spiritual needs. Darin and I combined know probably thirty people whose entire living is made from the generosity of other believers who support their full-time devotion to ministry. So, one of the most important parts of our budget that isn't really negotiable is setting aside money to give away, since we can't really create our own wealth anyways -- it's given to us!
I am really loving learning how to grow up. There are plenty of challenges ahead in this area, I'm sure, but I'm so glad to be doing it alongside someone with the same goals and ideas that I have! (Minus how much I want to buy a pug, and Darin thinks they're ugly. We're working through that...)