When Joe and I set up our ledger, most of it was to track what were were spending. In Part 1 I talked about how we track our monthly spending.
But we also wanted to track what we wanted to spend. Because that’s where a lot of the miscommunication happens!
Three more pages in our Ledger:
The Wish List
What are we hoping to purchase or spend money on? That’s the Wish List page. We get one every month, even when it’s not Christmas 🙂 At the beginning of the month we sit down and share what’s on our wish lists. Not the stuff that’s absolutely necessary right now, but stuff we hope to buy or do or anything that involves money flying out of our pockets. It helps to clear the air about our individual interests and desires that we might not otherwise know about. I tell Joe, yeah, I would really really love ABC and he says, you know I want to XYZ “ This helps us to learn more about each other and the things that make us light up. So anything in the category of want/fun/frivolous/treat/splurge we talk about ahead of time. Not because we want to deprive or control each other, but to better serve and love each other.
Like many men, Joe wants it spelled out for him. He can’t read my mind or just always know exactly what I want. By writing it down on paper, then he knows what it is that’s on my mind and vice versa. Many women including myself can get frustrated that our husbands don’t just automatically “know”. Can’t they figure out that I’ve been wanting this for-ever?? How can he not know that this is important to me? I don’t know the answer to that question. But I can accept reality and believe that if he says, I don’t know what you want, then he doesn’t.
Towards the end of the month we look at our book and say, let’s get that item crossed off the list, and other times we say, let’s wait on that another month or so. Joe has especially loved this system because he likes to know he’s taking care of my needs and wants. That even though we both make sacrifices, that any extra isn’t just going to him and his priorities. (Don’t mistake Joe for a spender. His priorities usually involve saving.) Just like I said “Go get it” when he wanted the new TV, he now has my list, can look at the numbers and say to me, “we’re good- Go do it!” And we both can get excited about crossing that item off the list instead of buying it while laden with guilt and worry over what our spouse will say.
The Ultimate Wish List
We also have one Ultimate Wish List at the front of the book. These are the big-ticket items in the hundreds/thousands dollar range that won’t fit in our monthly budget but will be used from savings. This list helps us to keep an eye on the big expenses we’re saving for. And of course be in communication about those things, especially in which items get priority! We also have on this list home repairs that we know are inevitable. Certain home repairs aren’t something I would say we’re wishing for but those expenses are certainly part of the budget. Our washer just went out last year, and the matching dryer is over ten years old, so already Joe and I are figuring that we may not have long on that dryer and we need to start budgeting for that expense. Not a fun way to spend money- but hey I do like dry clothes!
The Upcoming Expense List
The last page in our monthly spread is titled “Upcoming”. This is the page whose purpose is to prevent surprises. When it comes to the budget, I’ve learned that Joe doesn’t like surprises. so I’ve always tried to let him know when we have an upcoming expense. But we discovered it was a much better method to again, write. it. down. Asking each other the question, “What’s coming up this month??” is a great start. Oh, we’re going to need to order more toner for the printer this month. Oh, I need to go down to the DMV and renew license plate stickers. (How much will that cost? Are you kidding me!) We try to wrack our brains for anything else that might throw our budget off. And write it down. Now certainly, unpredicted stuff comes up, just when you think you get all your ducks in a row.. But our goal is to eliminate any surprises so we can plan accordingly and eliminate the “You never told me about that!!’ Now it’s just, “It’s in the book!!”
Matthew 6:21 says where your treasure is, there where your heart be also. There’s something about looking at your expenses and your wish lists helps us to identify where our treasures are!
Having a tangible place to write down our needs and wants, along with the hard numbers, has helped us tremendously in reducing conflict over money as well as help us manage better the resources God has given us!!