What do Sunday nights...once a month...with the shredder, green tea, checkbook, stamps and spreadsheets all have in common? One word: BUDGET!
It’s not a joke that Team Nall actually enjoys our monthly time of going through our budget. Let me try and paint you a clear picture of how this statement is even possible...
It all starts with a Sunday afternoon. We choose the Sunday afternoon beforehand so that expectations can be clear in preparation for that time that comes somewhere in between 4pm and 8pm. Knowing ahead of time gives us plenty of time for that mental preparation - to get our Sunday naps, walks, and anything else in so that we can be solely focused on the tasks at hand. Brandon is great at going through the stack of bills and various pieces of mail that have stacked up on the right corner of the desk in the kitchen, getting out the oversized paper shredder that he inherited from his work, and organizing the table for success. (Oh, and he makes two splendid cups of green tea to get the natural energy flowing!!) I know my role is to log on to Regions and print out the last month from the first day to the last, staple the pages, and put the papers on a clipboard - with a pencil and a highlighter. I grab the checkbook and stamps so that we’ll be all ready for mailing our bills. Then I pull up our two budget spreadsheets on the computer and prepare for action. Once all the prep work has been completed, we start the budget time off in prayer - thanking the Lord for what He has blessed us with in this family.
Brandon gets the clipboard and starts at the very first transaction of the month. It will fall into the category of food, other, gas, income, or one of our monthly bills. One of our spreadsheets organizes item by item of the food, other, gas and income - while our second spreadsheet keeps track of how much money is coming in and how much money is going out. It’s been very neat to do this for the past two and half years and now have the resources to look back on our progress and see how far we’ve come.
There are three words that come to mind when we think of the budget: freedom, accountability, and challenging. There is freedom in the budget because you don’t feel guilty doing certain things inside your limits when you have a game plan (like going to a nice dinner, planning for a vacation and so forth). There is accountability in the budget because every dollar is accounted for on paper. And let me tell ya, it changes everything in terms of what you actually go and spend your money on when you know that you’ll be held accountable to the “clipboard role call” and the hubby sees all the visits to Puffy Muffin, Hot Pink and J.Crew! And last but not least, the budget is challenging because it does call you to living inside boundaries. I will add that this is a good kind of challenging! Once you get used to the challenge - it’s actually fun to live within the boundaries. You know what you have to spend and it’s a game to figure out how to make it happen.
We will be the first to say that it’s not always easy to set aside a couple of hours to sit down and go through the budget. There are even sometimes when we may get a month behind. We can honestly say though, that we always feel encouraged to spend that time working through one of the “toughest things” - so the marriage experts say - which is money! At the end of every completed budget, B and I always look at each other and thank God for how blessed we are and we see exactly where our money is going.
At the end of each budget review, we are reminded of how thankful we are for our jobs. The Monday through Friday grind takes on a whole new meaning when you see all the things you get to do and things you get to eat because of your jobs!! Once we see where all the money goes (aka: monthly bills...ha!), we look at each other and say, “And that’s why we work!”
We always wrap up budget time more encouraged and thankful than before we started. There’s no hiding anything when we go through the budget together...everything comes out in the open! It’s a way for us to love each other by being transparent. It’s GOD’s money anyways!! It’s freeing to go back to the bottom line and make sure we’re spending less than we make. It’s great accountability for seeing if we’re being good stewards with the money He has given us. And it’s challenging to honestly look at each item and see if what we’re spending the money on is worth it!
Closing statement from the man of the house: “ Having a budget makes Team Nall stronger for sure. With freedom, accountability, and challenging goals - we can’t help but to grow closer.”