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4 Ways to Create a Budget Without a Fight

I don’t know about you, but we are always trying to do better with our finances. One of the best ways we’ve found to do this is by creating a budget together. And having a weekly budget meeting where we discuss every aspect of our budget helps keep us on track and speaking the same financial language. Just these few things have really helped us in our financial journey towards getting out of debt and, hopefully, retiring early.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we always see eye to eye on everything in our budget. Therefore, here are 4 ways to create a budget without a fight.

#1. DETERMINing YOUR WHY

Determining the main underlying reason why you both want to create a budget is extremely important. While you and your spouse may not be on the same page regarding every aspect of finances, discussing your main reason WHY can really help get you more in sync. Ultimately, if you don’t have a strong reason to create a budget in the first place, then there really isn’t any point in doing so. And it may just cause undue stress on your relationship instead.

When it comes to most common reasons why couples choose to begin a budget, here they are:

  • Debt pay off
  • Build an emergency fund
  • Save to retire early
  • Fund travel
  • Home improvements
  • Purchase a house
  • Grow a family

While you and your spouse’s WHY may not fit into these categories, it really doesn’t matter what it is. As long as you both have on and discuss it in depth. You and your partner’s WHY will become your driving force to not only create a budget, but stick to it.

#2. CREATe THE VISION

Once you have determined both of your WHY‘s, then it’s time to discuss the best action plan to get to each of your goals. This can be both together, as a couple, and also separately. After all, you can’t do everything together all the time!

At this point, some great questions to pose are:

  • What is the ideal timeline for both of your goals to be reached?
  • How much do you both ideally want to save each month?
  • How much can you actually save a month with your current income?
  • Where are areas that you feel you both can cut back on?
  • What areas does your partner think you can both cut back on?

These questions are great jumping off points to create your budget because they are setting the foundation for all future budgetary discussions and goals.

#3. BUDGET CATEGORIES

The next step in this process is setting up the budget categories. Categories really help you see, on a monthly basis, what you are ACTUALLY spending on things, as opposed to what you THINK you are spending. Most of the time, what we think we are spending on things ends up being completely different than what we are actually spending. Therefore, this is a very important piece to any budget.

The categories I suggest to start with are:

  • Income
  • Recurring Expenses
  • Automobiles/Transportation
  • Food/Drinks
  • Household
  • Travel
  • Clothing
  • Gifts
  • Luxury
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Misc.

These are the basic categories that we use, personally. However, if you want to break them down further to really dig into what you are spending on every little thing, then I highly suggest that also.

#4. BUDGET COMPROMISE

Once the budget categories are set up, then it’s time to determine how much of your income goes into which category. This can actually be the most difficult part of the whole process because it’s the most in depth. And due to this, it can create the most friction among couples. So going into it with an open mind and patience is really key to making your household budget a success.

The first year you do this can be the most difficult because you don’t have as much past data to pull from. While part of it is a guessing game, most of the big categories can be fairly easy to determine. These categories usually include:

  • Income
  • Recurring Expenses
  • Automobiles/Transportation

Once you have these categories figured out, you’ll need to take what’s left of your income and and divvy it up among the remaining categories. This can be much easier said than done though!

You and your partner should discuss how each of you thinks the remaining dollars should be appropriated. And this is where disagreements can come into play. So talk through each category calmly and in as much depth as possible to come to the best budgetary compromise on spending.

Create a BUDGET without a fight summary

My partner and I may not be on the same page with everything all the time (and who is, really?). However, we both respect each other’s point of view. We also both want to be financially independent by the time our youngest leaves the house, so we have a major goal.

Therefore, we talk weekly about our budget and change things accordingly when we feel like we are off track, if things change, or if one of us voices a concern. Sometimes, we decide that we want to pivot and reallocate our funds to one category more than another. This works well for us because we communicate well with each other. And we’re always careful to be respectful of each other’s opinions about where we would like to see the budget going.

Ultimately, good clear communication is the most important part when trying to create a budget without a fight.

What are some of the best ways you have found to create a budget without a fight with your partner?

7 Ways to Help Your Teen Build Credit

When it comes to having teenagers, there are a lot of things we as parents need to teach them. And nowhere is this more important than when it comes to to their financial education. Teaching our teens about money, finances, credit scores, etc. is extremely important to do before they leave the nest. There are many different ways we can go about this, of course. But, one of the most important things I feel that we can teach our teens is what a credit score is and how it impacts every aspect of their future financial lives. Therefore, before they leave the nest to fly on their own, helping a teen build credit is high up on my list of important lessons.

1. Get a job

One of the first things I told my teens when they turned 16 was that getting a job would be a good first step into the adult world. Not only does this give them some idea of what to expect in the work world, but it also gives them a first taste of managing their own finances usually. As a bonus, getting a job helps a teen begin to build their own credit.

2. open a checking account

Once your teen has a job, opening a checking account for them is the next best step to help them build credit. Most banks won’t let a child open a checking account on their own, so you’ll need to be a co-signer on the account until they are 18. This is also helpful when it comes to monitoring their spending, as it gives you a way to see everything that’s happening with their money. And it gives you good talking points to discuss with them about budgeting, when they get off track. Which my teens have done more times than I’d like to admit!

3. open a savings account

Whether your teen has a job and/or checking account, they can still get a savings account. We started savings accounts for our kids when they were much younger, just to put money into for them that relatives gave them for holidays. Having a savings account is a good way for them to watch a nest egg grow. And we have found it’s also a good place to put excess money they earn from their jobs is a savings account. This has helped rein in and regulate their excess spending on random junk they don’t need and help them save for bigger goals at the same time.

4. Open a Roth ira

When our kids started working for me, I opened Roth IRA accounts for them. These types of accounts can only be funded by earned income. So they can’t be opened until your teens have earned income that will be taxed. But, once they have some earned income to work with, you can open a custodial Roth IRA for them that will roll over directly into their name solely once they turn 18. This not only gives them a good first taste into investing, at much lower risk than when they do it as an adult, but also helps your teen build credit.

5. get a prepaid credit card

The next option is to help them get a prepaid credit card in their own name. Typically, you’ll have to be a co-signer on the account, as with all of the other accounts. But, with these types of credit cards you determine how much is put on the card to begin with, so that is all they have to spend. This works out really well if they have a job already also. You can tell your teen to set aside $100 – $500 to put onto the prepaid card and then use this card for all of their purchases. This way they are building credit while only spending the money they already have.

6. credit card authorized user

As another option to the prepaid credit card, you can add your teen to one or more of your existing credit cards as an authorized user. I did this for my two older teens just recently with one of the credit cards we never use that also has a high credit limit. I chose to put them on this one since we don’t use it because it’s easier for me to track who is spending what. Plus, since it has a really high limit, it helps boost their credit that much faster due to the amount of credit used versus the credit available. So far, they’ve both been paying off what they spend before the bill even closes, which is awesome!

7. teach them about credit scores

After all of these other options, the most important thing to teach them about is their credit score. Since they are trying to build credit, understanding how their credit score impacts their financial future is integral to overall financial health. If they have any of the aforementioned accounts opened, they can begin to see how their saving and spending are affecting their credit score. Which is a fantastic way to give them an early taste of how the whole system currently works. And don’t forget to show them how to pull their annual credit report each year so they can run through it for any discrepancies.

Teen building credit summary

Overall, there are a lot of great ways to start helping your teen build their credit score early on. While I don’t use the prepaid credit card method, I have used every other option to help my teens build their credit now. And, they’ve been doing awesome so far with the learning curve. So my hope is that by the time they are out on their own, they won’t have nearly as many issues as a lot of young adults do with their first taste of financial independence.

What are your favorite ways to help your teen build credit early?

How to Change Your Debt Mindset

When it comes to being in debt, we all have a lot of preconceived notions surrounding the situation. After all, nobody wants to be in debt. But, in today’s society, it is very common to start out adulthood in debt right out of the gate. And even if you get to a point where you are able to get out of debt, it can be so easy to slip right back into it. So, if you are currently in debt, there are some great ways to change your debt mindset to help you finally get out of debt. And hopefully stay out of debt, while you are at it.

How you got into debt in the first place

The first step to changing your debt mindset, is to take a very hard look at how you got there. After all, if you don’t know how you got there to begin with, you can easily fall right back into debt.

So, begin really taking a deep dive into your financial past. This includes not only how you have been spending money, but how those money habits and beliefs formed in the first place. Ultimately, our perception of money begins at very early ages and grows from there. So, if your parents didn’t have a great relationship with money, or they didn’t talk to you about it, then it stands to reason you developed a similar mindset.

Beginning with your money story and/or beliefs that have currently shaped your perception of money is what can really help you get to the crux of the issue. Once you have figured out where you came from, and why you believe what you believe, then you can begin to change.

Change takes time, for all of us. But, if you don’t want to repeat the same harmful patterns, change must occur.

What’s your why?

In order for that change to not only occur, but be a permanent change, you have to have a strong why. What this means is that you need to have a very good reason why you want this change to occur. Living in the same damaging cycle over and over again can be very exhausting. It can wear you down and cause all sorts of mental breakdowns. Some of the most common include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Insecurity
  • Anger

In order to break these cycles, a strong why is necessary. Having a strong why is not only important to break harmful financial cycles, but it can be seen a lot when people want to change their health for the better. Many people say they want to live stronger, healthier and skinnier, but when it comes down to actually doing the work, they fall short. This is because they haven’t determined their why yet.

So, determine your why to begin really reshaping how you think about money and finances. Some great reasons “why” people might want to change their debt mindset are:

  • Don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore
  • Want to be able to travel
  • Dreams of retiring early
  • Want to change careers
  • Aspirations of a better living situation
  • Want to be able to go through day to day life without the constant stress of money

Even if none of the aforementioned speak to you, it’s important to find your driving factor in order to create the change. So, what is your why?

communicate openly

At this point, you have already determined how you got in the debt mess in the first place and your why to get out of it permanently. Which is awesome! However, this new mindset needs to be communicated openly with everyone in your world.

Whenever we change something foundational about ourselves or our lives, it has a tendency to throw those around us for a loop. A good example of this is when somebody who has smoked most of their life, suddenly decides to quit. This is already an extremely hard habit to break. But, if you don’t have the support of those around you, it can become exceptionally easy to fall back into old habits. Especially if anyone around you still continues to smoke.

The same can be said when people are trying to lose weight, work out more or just trying to change their eating lifestyle. Misery loves company and most people don’t want you to change because it’s familiar the way it is.

Therefore, you need to be comfortable and confident enough to communicate exactly what you are changing about your life and why you need their support to make it happen. If the ones you love can’t support you on this healthier financial journey, then that might be a bigger issue all in itself.

debt mindset summary

Overall, changing your money story and your debt mindset can be a difficult road to travel. In order to really be effective with changing your mindset and your money story, you have to start at the beginning. Dig deep into how you got where you are and why you believe what you believe about money and finances.

Then move onto your why. Why do you want to change your perception of money? What is the bigger picture you are trying to accomplish so that you can live a happier and more well balanced life?

And last, but not least, then you must communicate this information to your loved ones. Explain why you want to change your perception of money to get out of debt and what you want to gain out of it. Ask them to help you stay on track and motivate you.

Take this deep dive and begin the journey to make these changes. If you do, and are willing to put in the work, the rewards can be outstanding.

Have you ever considered changing your debt mindset to change your financial life? If so, how did you do it and what were the results?

How We Bought Two New Used Cars With Cash

We have been hitting the road towards debt freedom pretty hard for the past three years now. The car loan on one of our cars was the last big thing we had to get rid of before we could start throwing more at the mortgage. How to get rid of the car loan faster was something that had been vexing me since the beginning of the year. I was getting close to an answer to pay it off faster, when it suddenly happened. We were finally able to get rid of the last car loan, and buy two new used cars, with cash only. This was a miracle! Read more

6 Things You Might Not Know About Getting Out of Debt

A Journey to Get out of Debt Begins with a Single Step
A Journey to Get out of Debt Begins with a Single Step

Do you want out of debt bad enough to deal with the roadblocks, the emotional stresses and the lifestyle changes?

Is having financial freedom important enough to you to give up current habits and lifestyles?

Only you can answer that question. Only you can decide if it’s worth the work to create a more secure financial future for yourself. But before you answer, let me ask you some questions. I want to find out if you’ve ever dared to think ahead to a future full of debt and money worries. I’m asking these questions because asking ourselves these questions is what gave us the motivation to begin our own dumping debt journey. So, here goes: Read more

What You Might Have to Do if You Want to Get out of Debt

what you have to doWe’re nearly a year into our “getting out of debt” journey here at The Frugal Farmer Family.  I finally feel like we’ve got some experience under our belts, so to speak, and can share a bit about what it takes to get out of debt.  For most in serious debt, there is no easy road.  Most people with debt aren’t going to be able to buckle down for six months and be debt free.  For the majority of those who want to get out of debt, it’s going to be a road that takes a few years to finish.

But those years are likely going to pass anyway, whether or not you choose to use them to get out of debt.  So the question remains: What do you want your financial life to be like 5 years from now? Read more