In our household, Tim has been the driving force to help us stay on target with our finances. I am 100% on board (Nerd Fact: I had actually been listening to Dave Ramsey since I was a teenager), and we talk about every single financial decision together. Yet, with my busy working schedule during the school year, it became increasingly difficult for me to take the lead on paying bills, calculating the budgets, keeping up with the accounts, etc. Tim got into a groove of handling all of those aspects, and I love him even more for that. Instead, we decided that I would handle the cash “envelopes.” It was something tangible and practical. Then I got REALLY sick in the first trimester, couldn’t go anywhere (especially the grocery store), and Tim had to take that over as well. Can I publicly say how much I love and appreciate my husband?
Now that I am going to be a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) this upcoming year (to prepare for the impending birth of our twins and through their first months), we are changing the way we handle the finances. We are still keeping our cash budgeting. We are still staying on budget, but we are taking an even more traditional approach. For now, Tim will still be paying the bills online out of our joint account, but I am slowly taking over some of the other budget categories that are not as simple as a cash-only system.
Specifically for now: The Nursery!
Back before I got pregnant, I would dream with Tim over what our dream nursery would look like. I would show him the tens (hundreds?) of pins on Pinterest, and then I would see his eyes glaze over with dollar signs floating out into mid-air. Very quickly, he brought me back down to reality and asked how much I thought my dream nursery would cost. I gave him a healthy estimate, and that made him feel a LOT more comfortable. Now remember, this was all BEFORE I even got pregnant. Once we had a ballpark figure, Tim was okay to dream with me.
Fast forward to now. I’m pregnant. With twins. Holy cow. So, we have so many things we need… and many big-ticket items are TIMES TWO! Yikes! Can I have my dream nursery on my original budget? After all, I will now have to get 2 cribs, two sets of sheets, different items that are twin-specific, and lots more clothes and diapers. Well, let’s hope!
The first thing we did was take a look at our savings. We had put ourselves in a really good position financially by becoming debt-free (except our house) this past year. We live exclusively off of Tim’s income, and my income has gone towards a nice nest egg: our 6-month emergency account is fully funded, plus we have a certain amount that we earmarked for the upgrades and nursery. This was key to not freaking out at our size-able nursery budget. We already had the money saved up for it!
We made sure to leave our emergency fund completely intact. That is something that we will not touch, especially since we are moving down to a one-income family.
We then figured out how much we had left to fund the house projects and nursery. After lots and lots of research, and changing around of the numbers, we figured out our detailed budget for specific items. While we aren’t going to break down our exact budget for each section, here are our categories that we are using:
Windows (replacing all 20 of the windows in our house)
Electrical (moving around electric and installing a ceiling fan in the nursery)
Paint (materials and hiring the painter)
Curtains (4 windows/8 panels of custom curtains lined with blackout panels)
Misc. Decorating and Accessories
Misc. Baby Items
So we budgeted down to the last penny. But this is where the fun comes in! We figured out how much all of our dream items will cost. IF we can get them for a cheaper price (or find a more inexpensive option than our original idea), we save money in that category. That gives us more money in another category (probably Misc. Decorating or Baby). For instance, it is looking like our curtains will be completed for less money than originally budgeted . So, we would then have possibly a large chunk of change to spend somewhere else (probably on diapers). This presents the BEST challenge. I get to track every penny we spend and try to be as thrifty as possible. If I can’t get a better deal on an item, it’s okay, because we already have the money put aside and budgeted. It’s a win-win for us!
In addition, we have registered for some of the items on the list (the cribs, the glider, the bedding, the stroller, and the car seats). We don’t assume that anyone will buy us any of those items, because they are so expensive. If someone does, then that would be amazing, because it would free up money to go towards Misc. Baby Items (basically all of the other necessities for the twins).
By the way, this is also what we did when planning our dream country club wedding on a lower-than-average budget. We gave ourselves $XXX, and we made it work. I would highly encourage you to try this on your next big project. It is so much fun to try to scrimp and save wherever possible!
If you want to see how truly nerdy we are, take a look at this conversation that we had on iMessage the day after we finalized the budget:
Dory: (sends the link for several Ikea dressers that are a LOT cheaper than our budget)
Tim: Well that seems pretty compelling. Maybe a trip to ikea in the next few weeks?
Dory: Exactly. I looooove those prices! And it would be done. I could even spend 100 on getting amazing knobs and still be way under budget.
Tim: Do they have cribs?
Dory: They do. They don’t have the look that I love, but I’m totally willing to look at them in person.
Tim: Ok, we’ll look at them, but PB is still the leader for the cribs. I love having a budget! Gives us some good guidelines!
Dory: Oh me too. This makes it soooooo much fun!
Tim: It means we can spend without worrying about having enough for other things. Gives me a very comfortable feeling!
Dory: Me too! Now, it’s FUN to do it, instead of worrying about the money aspect of it. I LOVE BUDGETS!!!