At the end of every month, my dad sits at the kitchen table and balances the checkbook. I give him grief for it and joke that he is archaic, but I understand his rationale. He does it so that he can stay apprised of their financial standing. He wants to ensure he has a good handle on their account values and be certain that he isn’t being charged for something he didn’t purchase. After a bit of discussion, Nicole and I have decided that we are going to get into the habit of doing something similar. We’re going to strive to sit down at regular intervals for budget meetings. At these meetings, we plan to review our budget and evaluate our progress toward our financial goals. It might sound super boring and a bit excessive, but just hear me out.
Knowledge is Power
Without looking at your most recent credit card statement, how much money have you spent on dining out this month? If you know the number off the top of your head, well done! I honestly can’t give you the exact figure for Nicole and me . . . yet. This is one of the main reasons we have decided to implement these budget meetings. While I do review our overall budget at the end of the month, neither one of us has an idea of what our spending looks like throughout month. Without that information, it can be really difficult to keep our spending in check.
To a certain point, more information is better. Understanding your financial situation and your recent habits can be hugely beneficial. Nicole and I didn’t create a budget for fun. We created it to help us reach our goals and to hold us accountable in the process. We don’t want our meticulous planning to go to waste. By dedicating our time and attention to the matter each month, we give ourselves the best opportunity to stay on track toward our goals.
Making Time for Budget Meetings
There are countless distractions that compete for our time daily. I recognize that making time to review our budget won’t be easy. However, there are some easy steps that can give us the best chance to succeed.
We’ve determined that it would be best to set up our budget meetings at regular, nicely-spaced intervals. It’s not logical to review our budget on back-to-back days, or even within the same week for that matter. Nicole and I plan to review our budget on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. This should allow us enough time to review our spending patterns for a portion of the month, take the necessary corrective action to get back on track, and review our efforts near the end of the month.
Same Time, Same Place
In an effort to really make these meetings a habit, we are aiming to hold these meetings at the same time and in the same place each time. We’ve decided that 8:30 in the evening is a time that works well with both of our schedules. We realize that this won’t always be possible if we are on vacation or if we have a particularly busy week. We also believe having a designated space for these meetings is important. Instead of half-heartedly having these meetings in front of the TV with The Office playing in the background, we are planning to have our discussions in our shared home office.
Make it Fun
We haven’t figured out how just yet, but we are trying to think of a way to make these meetings fun or entertaining. Maybe we’ll incorporate a special treat (like a tasty dessert) or maybe we’ll reward ourselves by adding a certain amount of money to our travel fund for each meeting that we hold! If you have any suggestions for us, please leave your idea in the comments below!
For the budget meetings to be meaningful, it’s paramount that you are intentional and make the practice a habit. Block off the time on your calendar at regular intervals. When you get the calendar reminder, put your phone away and really focus on the task at hand. Even if you don’t have a financial partner-in-crime, you can still designate some time to review your individual budget and personal goals.
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