Friday, February 19, 2010

Budgeting Time and Money

There are two things lately that we just don't seem to have enough of - time and money.

The issue of time is an interesting one because it's not really something either of us can change. I'm taking 22 units at school, plus go to 5-6 one-hour classes at the gym each week (which really turns into two hours between the time it takes me to get there, set up, stretch, and get home.) Besides that, I also have mountains of homework, that, even with major neglect, still take up a significant amount of my time daily. Finally, I also have a house and cooking to keep up with! Whew!

Paul is significantly busy as well. He works on average 50 hours a week, and he also is taking 11 units at school. When he is home, he is either doing homework or is just plain worn out. 

So as you can see, our dilemma is not that we don't manage our time well ... au contraire. We actually manage our time much better when we have TOO much to do because we just have to make it all fit in there somehow. (When I was home Christmas break with literally NOTHING to do ... I could hardly even make myself get out of bed except one time when I went to lunch to see my friends Claire and Kelly.)

Thursday, and usually Friday nights are our freedom nights. We'll do homework on Saturdays and Sundays when things must be turned in soon, but Thursday, we finally get to sit down on the couch and do that good ol' American pastime - watching television. 

There is a few difficulties regarding the time issue that I really just wish I could explain. 
1) Paul and I are suffering from the strain. It's hard not feeling like we ever have time to really sit down and talk. I guess I should just be thankful we're home at about the same times, and not working opposite schedules or something...
2) Friends and family sometimes seem to forget this season of their lives (or were never in it) when school and work and work and school take up all of the time, and get a little upset when we don't spend time with them ... this frustrates me because when we do spend time with friends and family we're also sacrificing number 1, which is key to a good marriage (spending time together!) So it's difficult - not that we don't want to spend time with friends and family (we wish we could socialize much more often) but it's difficult that we can't, and even more frustrating when people don't understand! 

Then there is the issue of money. When I worked, we always had a lot of extra money. We paid all of our credit card bills off each month, to the point that when we tried to get another card, we couldn't because they rejected us due to us paying off our cards too much! When I quit my job to go back to school double-time, our income dropped by about 1000 a month - although I did get 2000 in Pell Grants for each semester (amounting to about 400 a month if you look at it broken up.) However, our spending did not seem to change much. We were used to a certain lifestyle, and it is hard to break.

I was talking to my sister about this the other day and she gave me a good tip. I've been wanting to get on a budget often lately but just haven't been able to figure out how. She sent me a copy of a spreadsheet that she and her husband use, and it is simple enough to start at any time - although we're going to wait until the end of the month just to make sure that we are working everything correctly. And, of course, also for convenience :)

Also, we're doing something else. We are going to designate each of our credit cards for a specific type of spending so we can really track where our money is going and how much we have left. We should have our credit debt down to 0 by next month when I get my next Pell Grant (we've never had more than 2000 in debt - I hate debt!) and then the plan of splitting the credit cards plus the budget spreadsheet should help us work our budget seamlessly - or so we hope - as well as help us build our credit as we continue to use our credit cards and pay them off. 

If you're interested, this is how we're doing it. If you're anything like the rest of America, and likely the world, you need help with your budget - so take our tips and use them as they work for you.

Spreadsheet - if you're interested in using it, let me know and I will share it with you and explain how it works so you can edit it for your use.
Credit Card 1: Health Bills. This card consists of our health insurance bill and our gym membership, as well as any prescriptions or medicine.
Credit Card 2: Regular bills. This card consists of internet, phone, electric, and car insurance bills.
Credit Card 3: Eating out & miscellaneous. Pretty self-explanatory but this also consists of any household items we'll need to buy.
Credit Card 4: Gas card.
Credit Card 5 (mine only): Groceries.

Not only do we have these bills split up onto different credit cards, but we also have them split according to the types of rewards we get. For instance, the grocery card has rewards for money spent at grocery stores! The regular bills card has rewards in general for money spent, and since that is the card where we spend the most ... you get the idea :) The first two cards, the bills cards, are left at home, out of our wallets. Credit cards are just too tempting - especially for me, when I know that I pay the bills by myself (or used to) and can "get away" with spending a little extra here and there ... that's another thing. Paul and I will be doing the spreadsheet together now, creating some accountability!

Hopefully our money tip was helpful to you, as it was helpful to me when passed along by my sister. Let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

I totally know what you mean when it comes to lack of time and money! I would love for you to share the spreadsheet.. When you have time to do so. (: I hope things get easier for you in the time and money department soon! xo

Anonymous said...

Oh that was me tasha btw lol

Jess(ica) said...

Great ideas! I think its so awesome you guys are making a huge effort to get your debt and spending under control young! My biggest burden is school loans. My emplyer actually reimbursed me for my tuition and instead of paying off my student loans as I went, I paid off credit cards (where I had bought useless stuff), a laptop (ok that was legit). Now I have $20,000 in student loans to pay off over 10 years!

And the time thing... I totally understand! I also am way better at managing time when I have more things to do! Also, people dont get that when you say "You're busy" and can't hang out, it doesn't always mean you are actually doing something... sometimes being "busy" is recovering from the week on the couch... it means you are at home and don't feel like going out! So, keep on focusing on your time w/Paul during those "free" times you have! =)