4 Moms: Making Time to Manage the Budget

4 Moms, 35 Kids

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Making Time to Manage the Budget

I’m going to assume this question is more about time management that about actually creating a budget, because that’s a whole different discussion.

Like everything else in my life (or your life), making time to manage the budget is probably not the real problem.  The problem is making budget management a priority.  If it’s not our idea of fun, we probably have a hard time finding time for it.  Don’t we all find time for what we really want to do?  It may be a few minutes on Facebook several times/day, 30 minutes on the phone with Mom, an extra 20 minutes in bed in the morning, or taking time to read Life in a Shoe – but I think everyone here has at least a little discretionary time in her day.  That doesn’t mean that these things aren’t important (especially reading certain blogs), but you do have choices about how you spend at least some time every day, don’t you?  I certainly do.

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty if you have trouble allotting time to budgeting, because I have plenty of priorities that don’t get the attention they deserve.  I just want to get away from the “I don’t have time for this” mentality and shift over to a “I don’t make time for this” mentality.  It’s a lot like when I remind myself to tell the children, “That’s not a good use of our money” instead of “We can’t afford that.”

Unless you have the sort of system that makes the rest of us look and feel incompetent, it probably doesn’t take more than 30 minute/week to manage your budget, and it may take even less.  Our system looks something like this – at least in our heads.  I’m not going to put my hand on a Bible and swear to you that we actually do it this way all the time, but we do most of this, most of the time.

  • Daily: Check bank account online for expected/unexpected charges.  Verify unfamiliar charges with spouse.   3 minutes/day
  • Bimonthly (payday!):  Make sure automated bills were deducted as expected.  Pay bills manually as necessary (only 1/month for us, plus a few annual items).  10 minutes 2x month
  • Monthly: Make sure we tithed on all irregular sources of income (tithe on paychecks is set aside automatically).  Log into Mint.com and assess expenditures for the month.  Review our performance: where did we spend more than we should have?  Where did we do better than expected?  How much went into savings? 20 minutes

Our finances are relatively simple, and I think it helps that we are big fans of Dave Ramsey, and have learned a healthy fear of debt – although we learned that lesson the hard way.  We no longer have car payments or credit card payments to juggle, our mortgage is very moderate (we hope to pay off our home in the near future) and we do our best to keep expenses to a minimum, multiple cell phones and fast food weaknesses notwithstanding.

We are trying hard to be good stewards of the resources God has granted us, and so we find a few minutes to manage the budget.  Could we do more?  Absolutely.  But first we’ll need to kick the Facebook habit.


Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • April 5 – Do you plan out blog posts? How do you manage blog time?
  • April 12 – Tithing and saving for retirement/college on one income
  • April 19 – Q&A
  • April 26 – Homeschooling through chronic illness and pregnancy

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About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

 

Comments

  1. Cindee N. says:

    Our biggest time expenditure was creating the budget and “The System.” Now it’s pretty much a machine that runs itself. That said, I probably spend 3-4 hours a month doing the bookkeeping (3 double letters in a row…. I love it!). We use our debit card heavily so I/we spend time entering those receipts into our Quicken program. Then there’s the bi-monthly paycheck that gets dispersed to the bills and our virtual envelopes. Lastly, there’s reconciling the bank statement each month and printing off a hard copy of our Quicken check register for the month. I haven’t actually tracked the time spent, but I think it’s a pretty good estimate.

    • Cindee N. says:

      Oh, and our bills are all either automatically withdrawn or paid via our bank’s BillPay system. So I don’t “write” checks and I don’t have to mail them. (Probably shooting myself in the foot with that one since my husband is a mail carrier….)

  2. Interesting. As it takes us about 1-2 hours a week to update the budget. I do the checkbook register and a budget ledger(3 ring binder). I pay all the bills with checks, and use cash for gas and food (mostly). The strange thing is we also only have a mortgage, we pay off the credit card if we use it and have no car, school loan, or other consumer debts. What am I doing wrong?? It takes forever!! Question. Does anyone else have a debit card? Cause that thing could get me in trouble.

    • You answered you own question on what you are doing wrong that it takes you so much longer. You are paying everything by check and recording everything in a paper ledger. If you logged in everyday for a few minutes and payed everything automatically thru a bill pay service, it would cut down on a big amount of time.

      • I understand that it might save time to do things online, but our status having internet is always iffy. Sometimes we can afford it, sometimes we can’t. I hesitate to start something like that and then have to cancel service, and have to change back. And I am not doing it at the library! Hmmm…

  3. We are huge Dave Ramsey fans but we got off the budget bandwagon once we became debt free. We were tithing, saving and all that but not really keeping track of it all. So, we’re back at it now.

  4. Ruth Leone says:

    I love mint.com ! I also love online banking. Thanks for the reminder that taking care of the budget doesn’t really take a long time, it mostly takes ATTENTION.

    Nana Ruth

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