marriage

How Budgeting Saved My Marriage

How Budgeting Saved My Marriage

When I got pregnant with my first child we knew we had to save money. We had been bopping around before then, putting money on credit cards and paying it off, taking some money and putting it into savings, taking it out again. Not doing anything really stupid but not really being on top of the situation. We had put some money we got from our wedding in savings and we hadn’t really done any savings since then. We WANTED to save money but there never really seemed to be any money at the end of the month to put away.

When we realized we needed to save more money for the baby, we hit a snag. I am naturally frugal and have an easier time just NOT spending money. My husband is not a big spender, but he occasionally buys a coffee, a danish, a pricey ingredient at the store. While I was busy trying NOT to spend money, he was still spending money on things that I, personally, deemed frivolous. He would come home and the critic in me would start: “Are you sure you needed to buy a sandwich? You could have remembered to pack one at home”, “Another coffee? Really?”. And as you can imagine he didn’t respond to that really well. As we continued to bicker, I became more controlling and he became more defensive- “You’re not my mother” became a common refrain. When he came home with flowers for me in an effort to appease, it just escalated the situation! “I don’t want flowers! I want to save money!”. It was not exactly the harmonious, loving home that we both wanted to have. We had become something that we both didn’t want to be: A COUPLE THAT FIGHTS ABOUT MONEY.

We were heading down a dark road and it had to stop. All our interactions were becoming about money and the “SAVINGS” was a big, black cloud that hung over our marriage. We didn’t know how to get there and we were fighting as we tried to figure it out.

So we decided to do something we had never done before: We made a budget. (Cue the music).

And it worked. We stopped fighting. By creating a budget we were able to take the emotions out of the money which left us with nothing to fight about. Click To Tweet

We had a specific amount of money for household expenses, and a specific amount of money for each of us to spend. We each decided for ourselves how to spend that money.

Why did this work? Because it was really never about the money. It rarely is. It was about the emotions that money evokes. You see, I grew up in a poor family. Not dirt poor- but a “live on a strict budget don’t get dental work until its urgent” type of family. When my father lost his job, things were really, really tight and stressful. So I was determined that I would have savings and money in the bank to try to avoid those tense times. It made me feel secure to know that there was a $50 bill in my purse that wasn’t being spent. Just in case. It was important for me to have money in the bank.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up with a financially controlling parent. Every purchase was scrutinized, discussed and analyzed. While they were pretty comfortable financially he never felt the freedom to purchase anything on his own. Even when he spent his own money, he would be questioned and guilted about his purchases. When he became independent, he needed to be able to spend his own money without feeling controlled or analyzed. He didn’t mind having a set amount to spend-he minded being told HOW or WHEN to spend it. He wanted to be able to decide for HIMSELF when to buy a cup of coffee or not.

Budgeting gave us both what we wanted. We put aside money for savings right when we got paid (instead of putting aside what was leftover) which gave me the feeling of security and purpose that I craved and that allowed me to stop feeling panicked about the money he spent. On his end, he was able to decide what to spend on which item without feeling guilty or uncertain about his choices. It was freedom within a framework- which is what he wanted.

The budget we created was made by both of us. We both agreed to the amounts and the system. We have lived on this same budgeting system for years now, with a few minor adjustments. We honestly rarely talk about money. When we do, it is to discuss changes to the budget or big purchases-its all done calmly and respectfully (and rarely). We already know what we each need and what our overall financial goals are so we only rarely have to discuss the “nuts and bolts”. There really is nothing to fight about and money does not make its way into every discussion like it used to.

Some Tips about Creating a Budget with your Spouse or Significant Other:

  1. Be calm and respectful. Realize that it is rarely about the money. It is about the emotion that money evokes.
  2. Respect the other person’s needs and wants.
  3. Write it down and agree to reevaluate.
  4. Choose a quite, peaceful time to assess how the budget is working.
  5. Give your partner space. Trust them to follow the budget and stick to the plan.
  6. Support the other if they mess up. The relationship is more important than the money.

 

What budget did we use? This one right here! 

Some Basics About Filing Taxes

TaxesSome Basics About Filing Taxes

Tax Filing 101

Disclaimer: The following post contains affiliate links, which means I may get money when you click or purchase something from a link in this post.

If you make money- you have to file taxes. Click To TweetThe good thing is that filing taxes is actually pretty easy for the majority of people.

There are 2 types of taxes that you have to file: Federal and State.

According to the IRS:

In most cases, you will need to file a return if any of the following are true:

  • Your gross income was over $10,000 as a single filer (or over $20,000 as a married couple filing jointly)
  • You earned over $400 from self-employment
  • You sold your home during the tax year
  • You owe taxes because of your retirement account, either from distributions or excess contributions
  • You owe Social Security and Medicare taxes on tips that were not reported to your employer, or on wages that your employer did not withhold these taxes from

After you file taxes, you may get a bill from the IRS saying that you need to pay taxes or you may get a Refund (this is when the IRS gives you money back)

The best and easiest way to file taxes is through a cheap or free tax software service. There really is no need to pay someone to do your taxes unless you have a really complicated situation.

According to a Reddit user, “If your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $66,000 or less, https://www.irs.gov/freefile has many options which may allow you to e-file your federal and state income taxes for free using popular brand-name software like Turbo Tax, Tax Slayer, etc., even if you need the more “complicated” schedules for things like itemized deductions, self-employment income, or capital gains and losses. Note that the free products offered via this service may differ from the “free” (with pushy up selling) products you’d find if you went directly to the vendors’ web sites. Always follow the links from the IRS if you want the truly free versions.”

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Your employer, your banks, your school- they will all send you various tax forms. As soon as you get them- keep them in a folder or in a specific place on your computer. Once you have all your forms you can begin the process. Software like Turbo Tax allows you to save your work so as soon as you get your W-2 or 1099 from your employer you can get to work.
  2. Discuss with your parents your “dependent” status. Only one person can claim you as a dependent- either your parents or you- but not both. If you are still living at home or you’re parents are supporting you , they may still want to claim you as dependent. If this is not the case, let them know that they can no longer claim you as a dependent because you will be claiming yourself. This will ensure there are no issues if you are claimed as a dependent twice.
  3. File soon and file early. As soon as you can file you should do so. First of all, get it over with. Second, since many people wait until the last minute- the IRS usually takes while to process your return if you file near April 15th. However, if you file earlier (you can file as early as January 28th) they are more likely to process your return and give you a refund quickly.
  1. You MUST file by April 15th. Don’t wait until then. Do it earlier. But that is the latest you can file. Don’t miss the deadline please!
  1. If you are hit with a huge tax bill, then hire a professional to speak to. It is possible they can help you file an amended return if you did something wrong, or help you work out a payment plan with the IRS. Whatever you do, don’t not pay your bill! Even if you can’t afford it- work out some sort of plan. If you just run out on your bill you can be in a lifetime of trouble!

TurboTax

I personally have been using Turbo Tax to file my taxes for the past 8 years and I have been very happy. TurboTax is a software that you can purchase in-store or online that walks you through filing your taxes and then e-files for you, if you want. It’s easy, straightforward and it saves all your work. I also love that they save all your information from previous years so a lot of the information is already there the following years. It’s a great option that you can do from home- it’s quick and easy! You can request that your refund (if you are entitled to one) be directly deposited to your bank account which speeds up the processing time as well. I have always had very quick turn around times with my refund when doing through Turbo Tax, but I usually file my taxes in the first week of February. There are different forms of the software starting from free for basic returns and getting more expensive as you get more complicated. The website can help you figure out the best program to purchase.

DO NOT get your refund in Amazon gift cards (this is sometimes an option). It’s just begging for you to spend your refund instead of using to pay down debt, bulk up savings or use it for more crucial purchases. It may seem like a good deal (sometimes there is a financial incentive) but getting gift cards instead of cash is RARELY a good idea. Be smart with your refund and let the money help you become a little more financially secure.

 

 

3 Containers and Brown Fruit

ContainersFrugality and zero-waste often go in hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, my taste buds and my kids pickiness often work hard to overcome my desire to save food and eliminate extra waste. I pack lunches for my kids and every other day (consistency is not their strong point) I unpack those same lunches from their bags. The apples are brown and the carrots are hard. A whole week can go by with brown apples being unpacked from lunch boxes, when on the 8th day I don’t pack them apples the ensuing tantrums are vicious. So apples go in their lunch every day and very often come home brown.

The frugal side of me cringes if they go in the trash yet the picky side me refuses to eat them.

I have the same issue with soft vegetables, slightly browning bananas, mushy fruit and browning greens.

So I keep 3 Containers that live in my freezer:

  1. Stock
  2. Smoothies
  3. Apples.

Fruit and vegetables that are “gross” to me and my family (i.e. mushy, hard, brown) yet not moldy go into one of the 3 containers.

I have a container where I put my vegetable stock- leftover carrots, browning greens, etc go into this box. I also put carrot peels, the strings from my celery and other scraps. These sit in my freezer until I need a new chicken or vegetable stock. Occasionally I have to add some vegetables but more often than not, some water and these scraps make a delicious stock. I will buy some chicken necks or bones and make a flavorful chicken stock as well. These get frozen into individual containers and are the base of many soups, stews, sauces and other dishes. Low-sodium and basically free!

I love smoothies and they are a great snack. Frozen fruit can be really pricey though! Browning fruit go into a container just for that purpose. A lot of bananas end up there but sometimes berries, dates, kiwi, and pears go as well. When it’s time for a smoothie, I hack some pieces off, add a liquid and a green (basil or parsley) and a delicious smoothie is born. All made from items that may have ended up in the trash!

I don’t like apples in my smoothies but my kids love apples (sometimes). Browning apples get placed into their own container where I save them until I have enough for a cobbler, pie, apple sauce or apple cider. Fruits that would have been thrown in the trash are saved until they are useful once more.

This system also assuages my guilt for not eating imperfect fruit (I am very picky to the taste and texture of my fruit and vegetables). It also helps me curb my inclination to buy less fruit and vegetables to have in the house. The frugal side of me has a hard time spending money on a variety of fruits and vegetables if I think it may not got eaten. But its really much better for myself and my children to have these options readily available for them to eat. By reducing the amount of food that goes to waste, I can feel comfortable by fresh fruits and vegetables because I know they will get used-even if its not in the original way intended.

Do you struggle with eating healthy on a budget? It doesn’t have to be difficult!