Sticking to a budget can be difficult at times. Having a weekly budget meeting can set you up for success in terms of staying on track with the budget you have created. Scheduling these meetings will keep you accountable to your pocket book and your long term financial goals. These meetings do not have to be very long. They are basically just a quick recap of where you are in your finances and to determine if you are on track with where you want to be.
Here are some ideas of what to discuss at the budget meeting with your spouse/significant other:
- Are all of the bills paid? We generally go over this at the beginning of the month when most of our bills are due.
- How much is left in the account? After all the bills are paid we discuss how much is left in the account and how much we want to put towards our debt.
- How much can we reasonably afford to put towards our debt this month? We come up with a number that we agree upon to put towards debt each month. We try to make it as sizeable as possible. At first, we felt like it wasn’t much, but now that we have momentum, it is much more and we can see the fruits of our labor. You will too. Just be patient and consistent.
- Are we on track with where we thought we would be at this point? Are we spending money appropriately or do we notice that we are spending more money in certain areas of the budget. For example, are we spending more on food than we though we would or are we spending too much money on personal items? We figure it out and once you have been doing this for a month or two, it doesn’t take much time at all. I think our meetings now are around 10-15 minutes. I will say though, Greg is the saver in our marriage. He figures out all the numbers and I just nod my head.If you are the natural spender, you probably know what I am talking about. I want to be a part of these meetings because I care where our money is going, but I really don’t care for the penny pinching part of it. I like to know what I can spend and as long as I am within that, I am good.
- Do we need to change our budget for any reason? Do you notice that you need to increase or decrease your budget at all? When you are paying attention to the numbers, you may notice that you either overshot or undershot what you thought was a reasonable amount to spend on something. That’s why you have these meetings once a week.I will give you an example. Since having Logan, we had to increase our food budget because we have another little mouth to feed. He also has some special dietary needs so we needed to increase our food budget each month to accommodate for that. Having the meetings allowed us to see the trend of how much we were spending and why we needed to increase our food budget.
- How close are we to paying something off? In the beginning, it felt like we were never going to pay anything off. It felt like it would take forever to achieve the next goal. Now that we have established momentum, we look forward to the meetings because we can see we are that much closer to getting big things paid off. It is exciting for us to talk about and these meetings keep us motivated and focused on achieving our next goal.
- Are there any unexpected expenses we have this month? We are human and we forget things sometimes. If there are any unexpected costs, we go over what we have to pay and if we can schedule it in the budget somehow. Don’t make it a big deal if you forget something. Just pay it and move on.
- What do we have that is coming up that we need to save for? Great and easy example- Christmas. We budget for Christmas that way we can pay for it up front and not have to use credit cards. Pay cash for holidays. It makes it so much more fun when you don’t have any bills looming over you after the holidays. Think about any birthdays, parties, baby showers, weddings, or other special occasions coming up that you want to be a part of? Start planning for those events.
- Don’t make the meetings boring and arduous. Bring a glass of wine to the meeting and maybe schedule a little 30 minute in home date after the meeting. If you need some ideas on what to do at home for date nights, check out my previous post on fun at home date night ideas. The Busy Budgeter also posted about what they talk about at meetings. You can find her article here.
- Make sure you have everything prepared somehow. If you love keeping track of your budget on the computer, pull up your spreadsheet. If you write it down, make sure your binder or paper is in front of you to discuss the numbers. We like to have everything written out. We are just old fashioned like that.
Is the budget meeting important?
It is extremely important to go over the budget on a weekly basis. If you keep track of your spending weekly, then there are no surprises. I would say at the very least, you should be keeping track of your money every 2 weeks. It is so important to see what you are spending your money on. It is also helpful to see if you need to adjust your budget in any way. The sooner you realize you need to make corrections to the budget, the more you will save or have to pay down your debt.
Bottom line, these meetings don’t have to be lengthy. Make sure you look over all the important facts. See how you are doing with your budget, if there are any ways you can improve or if you are kicking ass and taking names as it is. No matter where you are in the process it will get easier and it is worth it.
Dave Ramsey says on average it takes only about 24-36 months to get completely out of debt if you really want to be out of debt. That’s only 3 years maximum. It can take less time than that depending on how much debt you have. Just imagine what you could do with your money if it was all coming to you and not debtors. Isn’t that an awesome thing to think about?
What do you discuss at your budget meetings and how often do you have them?
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