This is the third and final post in the New Year Spotlight Series! Today is about one of my least favorite topics ever – money.

Womp.

In my heart, I am a master budgeter. I am quite possibly obsessed with Dave Ramsey and I listen to his podcast regularly. My husband and I never go out to eat or on vacation, and, with a few exceptions, we buy new clothes twice a year on gift cards. Our kids wear hand-me-down clothes and play with hand-me-down toys, and we are all quite happy with this arrangement!

Despite these lifestyle choices, there is a big flaw in our budget… Uh… there isn’t one. We have lived off a paper budget for the past few years, and while we are debt-free (other than our home), there are some other financial goals that we are working toward this year, and it’s time to buckle down.

Ugh.

I really just don’t like budgeting, and for me it’s because of the little things that come up throughout the month. You know, like the dollar section at Target. The new teaching materials for my students. That cute little vase that would be just perfect on our living room shelf. And don’t get me started on the forcefield around Chick Fil-A that draws my car into the drive through line once a week because I don’t want to clean up lunch mess.

So, we’re officially budget-abiding citizens this month, and we’re starting off Cold Turkey, because, you know, that’s the way you do things on January 2. If it’s not groceries or gas, we just aren’t buying anything (outside of the small allowance of pocket money set aside for each of us).

YUCCCCCCKKK.

This is so un-fun, but I know it is all for good things. I really think this is going to be a challenge for me, so I decided to keep a list of every item that I wish I could buy this month. If that sounds like torture to you, just hang with me for a second.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create a purposeful, planned budget (I have some resources for you below!)
  2. Anything you want to buy this month that doesn’t fit in your budget goes on this list.
  3. At the end of the month, go back and decide on your action plan – either budget to purchase that item sometime in the future, or realize you didn’t really need that thing after all.

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If you’re wondering, so far on my list I have written down:

* A giant dry erase board for my studio
* Getting my wedding ring cleaned and re-plated

Those two items would have cost me around $75 in the past two days. So I think it’s safe to say our family is going to save some money this month!

Here’s the worksheet I’m using (free PDF download).

In case you haven’t already noticed, I’m hardly a budgeting expert – so if you’re interested in learning more about budgeting, I encourage you to read Krystal’s story on Little Life on a Hill. There is also a very comprehensive free Finance Workbook available through their site that guides you really simply through the process of setting financial goals and how to achieve them.

If you want to take your budget to the next level, there is an editable budgeting form available here! This is the tool I used to set our family’s budget this month. The categories are all set for you, but you can customize each line item to your family’s individual needs.

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Here we go! Plan on, and live well!

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