Keeping with my baby steps approach to life, I realize that even a baby step can turn out to be a giant leap sometimes.
I still consider myself a “newlywed” after 4 years because we have barely begun our life together and barely begun to figure all this out. In our short time together so far, we have been through more challenges and obstacles than the majority of newly married couples. We had yet to make that leap into this life being “OURS” and not his and mine. We were apart for a large chunk of our marriage so far, and never really had a life together.
It’s a difficult thing to balance working together while still maintaining some independence. (Especially for the stay at home mom) Living in Germany sure hasn’t made it easy to keep any independence and that was putting a HUGE strain on our relationship. You’ve heard me complain about how lonely and oppressive it can be here. I’ve decided to take some steps to save my sanity. I started with my mental and physical well being and focusing my energies. The next step is to take back a little independence and for once really be able to take care of my family. With previous debts and a very complicated juggling act to keep us afloat financially, I had shied away from taking responsibility for the budget and our expenses. It started to feel like I was a child with an allowance versus a partner in this thing. It’s was both of our faults, but this had to change.
I have put a LOT of thought into how I can really take responsibility for our financial woes and feel like an equal partner. Men and women think about things in different ways. Plain and simple. Having different points of view is the only way to tackle difficult situations. He sees the big picture only, and I’m more of an “ok, how do we get this done” person. Prime example: cleaning a house doesn’t involve nearly as many steps to most men as it does to most women.
This is where my baby step approach comes in. There are little things I can do in addition to really paying attention to the bills we already have. We don’t have any kind of budget right now, and it’s eating us alive. To some of you this is old hat and lessons you learned years ago. To me, this is pretty new and intimidating stuff!!
My general game plan to get us on the road to a real budget: (Yep, we are that far gone!)
- Weekly menus.
I’m not talking about Monday equals meatloaf, Tuesday equals spaghetti. I plan to shop by the meal for 7 days.(what we eat first depends on what is the most perishable) Start calculating what we are spending on the average week per meal. That way we don’t waste, and can clearly see where our money is going. This will also really help with our diet! If I’m planning meals, we are less likely to drag in junk or in a panic go for take out.
- Set aside a “household fund”
This will definitely be my department and something I’m pretty excited to dive into. Instead of just blindly spending or asking my husband if we can afford something, I will, for once know. It’s a terrible feeling to want to take care of your family and not have the means to do so. This will be after we pay the major bills to see what is left over to divi out on a bi-weekly basis. We get paid on the first and fifteenth. If he isn’t already doing this, I’d rather spread the bills out evenly instead of one paycheck being a lot smaller than the other.
In the fund I will be able to budget out incidentals, supplies, projects, repairs etc. Alek currently needs a dresser, headboard and rug. To do that we have to be able to budget it out so we aren’t put in a bad situation at the end of the pay period like we have been for a few years now! This might even end up in us setting up a separate account just for this purpose. I need to be able to have some emergency cash and taking care of things that come up without worrying about breaking the bank. Clothes for the family, new shoes, furniture…..the list goes on and on. I just don’t want us to be blind sided with these expenses we should have already planned for!
- Tackle existing debt.