I am so grateful that we were given Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover as a newly married couple ten years ago. It gave us a road map to follow to find the financial security we have today. I became a big Dave Ramsey fan back then and listened to the podcast version of his radio show for many years.
Along the way, however, there was a point of contention between my wife and me about keeping a budget. I love spreadsheets and numbers and rules to follow so keeping a budget made a lot of sense to me. But, I’m not the one doing the shopping each week. For me to impose a budget just never went over well in conversation.
How did she change my mind?
I realized that budgeting is a tactic not a strategy.
Does budgeting work? Absolutely. Almost every person who calls in to the Dave Ramsey show to say they are debt free talks about a budget.
Budgeting, however, is a tactic to help carry out a personal finance strategy: spend less than you earn.
We successfully carried out that strategy month after month. We spent less than we earned.
Who was I to say we were succeeding incorrectly?
Jen was careful every month about not spending too much. She was very conservative about purchases. She chose to shop at Aldi before it became so popular. She has multiple grocery lists about which place to buy things. Friends give us clothes for our daughters to wear and we don’t buy them a lot of new clothing. We live very simply.
In the end, Jen does have a budget in mind when she goes shopping. She doesn’t track it in a spreadsheet but she has a number in mind before she walks in the door of the grocery story.
Focus on strategies and don’t impose tactics on others. Find out what works and support one another on the path to achieving your goals.