Married and Starting Out

Married and starting out features newly married couples sharing their experience as they combine finances, lifestyle and in-laws.

How to Live on a Budget

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I think there's a point in everyone's adult life when there is an ah-ha moment when it comes to their finances. The moment when you suddenly realize that you don't have forever to begin saving and that you are not going to be bailed out of financial strife; that it is the time to begin making investments towards your future. Me and my husband's moment came when we began looking to buy an apartment.  

As I mentioned in my last post, until recently we both rented separately; then, when we decided to make our relationship a long term thing, we began renting somewhere together. We were somehow able to overlook the fact that when you rent, especially with roommates, as we both had, you split a lot of the costs of an apartment many different ways. To say we found our first month's utilities bill a shock is putting it mildly! Even though we probably should have seen that first bill as a warning sign, we kept spending without much regard to our finances. We love to socialize and go on trips, and we would never say no to a night out or a wedding out of town. We would simply dip into our savings to facilitate all this spending without much regard to our future. 

We were out for dinner with friends proudly discussing our desire to buy an apartment. We felt so adult finally having a plan.  Our friends mentioned that they had recently begun using the financial planning website, Mint.com. They said that it had completely revolutionized how they spend and how much they spend. The site brought about the realization that they were spending too much throughout the month. 

Intrigued, we entered all our information into the site when we returned home that evening.  It was not without some trepidation; this would be the first time that we would see our finances side by side. When we looked at the overview, we received a shock larger than the one induced by our utilities bill. We were spending four times as much as we were bringing in, without realizing it! We were on a road to disaster. 

We knew we had to modify our behavior, and quickly.  If we were serious about buying an apartment, we had to learn to live within our means.  Although I had heard that expression a hundred times regarding the mortgage crisis we had never applied it to our own cash flow. 

Setting out our budget we factored in all the fixed costs: our rent, the utility bill, the cable bill, my phone bill, and our Netflix account. Everything else could be trimmed. Our main outgoings are restaurants, bars, and travel, which are three things I feel will be easy to cut back on.  You simply just have to travel, eat out, and drink less, or in our case for the next few months, not at all! I placed categories in the budget for all of our fixed essentials and sports (for races and sports drinks), home supplies (cleaning products and toiletries), and minimal budgets for bars and eating out. 

Sticking to the budget is sure to be nigh on impossible, but I think the benefits in the long term outweigh any discomfort we will encounter now. Part of me is looking forward to the challenge, and the other... well, let's just say I am terrified that we will not be able to achieve this. Our budget is a work in progress, but at least we are now aware of what we are spending. Hopefully we will be able to adjust our outgoings to match our income.   

Another great tool to use is CareOne's own Budget Planner.

Vienna Nowell

Vienna currently resides in New York City, but is originally from London. She is a contributing writer under Married & Starting Out. She and her husband are recently married and they are contemplating taking the big step of buying their first home.  Still working their way through the processes of buying an apartment, she and her husband are learning as they go.  Vienna also writes a food blog, www.TinyTestKitchen.com, and is a freelance writer, chef and food stylist.  She is looking forward to sharing her experiences and any tips she picks up along the way during their house buying endeavor.

 

  • Fabulous information and great lead sites.

  • One of the reasons budgets fail is because a crucial first (and ongoing) step is missed in the budgeting process: tracking your expenses.

  • Before my now husband and I began cohabiting, I ate minimally. I would eat most my meals at home.

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