2010. Year of the “Non-budget” budget

I pinky promise I wont turn PDITF in to a wedding/marriage/love blog, but you are gonna have to bear with me, for a bit longer as this engagement thing is uncharted territories for me. Getting married is going to completely change the way I have been managing my money. Apparently wives don’t just cook and clean (dear feminists, that was a joke), but they also do things like make money and spend money.

In years past, I have made my budget on January 1st and made assumptions of what the next 12 months is going to look like. It has been pretty easy for me to do, seeing that all I had to account for was myself. I knew what my income would be, I knew how much food I bought each month, and I knew how frequently I was putting gas in my car. It was really easy to make a budget once every 12 months, because few things in my life varied.

Well Girl Ninja, I hate to break it to ya, but you’re throwin’ a little wrench in my tires. I think I’m going to be forced in to budgeting twice this year. One for now through wedding day, and again wedding day through the rest of the year. That means I have to do twice as much work, ugh.

Even more unfortunate… I have no idea how to budget for our life post wedding. I have no clue how much women cost. To further complicate things, Girl Ninja is a substitute teacher so her income can range from $200-$2,000 monthly (depending on how many days she works). My guess is our wedding will take place in August, which leaves me with four months of assumptions (Aug through Dec).

It really seems pointless to make a budget for the last half of the year at this point, since I really have no clue what things will be looking like. We could be spending $900 to $1,500 on rent, $300-$500 on grocery/dining, $100-$400 on gas, blah, blah, blah. Nearly every category has a couple hundred dollar variance. It kind of defeats the purpose of budgeting, when you have no clue what you will be spending on virtually all aspects of your life.

Right now my game plan is to establish my budget from January to August and call it good. Once married life begins, I will closely monitor our spending habits and be totally prepared to make my 2011 budget on January 1st next year. I guess it’s not a huge deal though, because I treat my budget like a spending guideline. Do any of you all recall how much your overall expenses increased post marriage? Do you make a budget each month, once a quarter, or like me, once a year?

p.s. a few of you bloggers (mostly women) have mentioned you would like to hear a little more about my thoughts on weddings/marriage/love, so I plan to begin touching on those topics at least once a month. consider me your official Love Ninja ๐Ÿ™‚

14 thoughts on “2010. Year of the “Non-budget” budget”

  1. This is why I advocate couples talking about their finances. You and Girl Ninja need to have a sit-down and hash out what your expenses are, and your debts, if any. Especially because her income can vary so wildly — seems you will be pulling more weight than she will as far as paying bills once you get married.

    For me and Mr. Saver, we talked about what his expenses were: car insurance, credit card debt, cell phone, and miscellaneous personal expenses. For example, he smokes, to the tune of $300 a month in cigs (shit is expensive in NJ!), and I don't smoke or spend much money on myself. We had to take into account our incomes and our debt repayment expenses, too. This gave us a good idea of what kind of financial shape we were in. We also discussed savings/401(k) accounts. It's all about exchanging information and being open about it.

  2. In theory anyway, it's cheaper for two people to live together than separately. You might be pleasantly suprised. DH and I lived together before we got married, and then shortly after our wedding, I moved far far away to attend grad school (we did it backwards to most I know!) Our expenses went through the roof, paying two rents, two phone bills (which were nasty, because we spoke daily), etc etc That's when we got into debt trouble, come to think of it.

    It sounds like your plan to give yourself a few months to figure it out is quite reasonable-there will be a lot of changes at that time, so being super-rigid about your budget will only cause you grief. Rainy Day Saver made some great points above, and I'd second them!

    In the meantime, enjoy being engaged and planning the wedding and your lives together.

  3. I know you have only been engaged for a week or so, but you need to start looking at things in terms of “we”/”our” instead of “I”/”my”.
    For example:
    “I will closely monitor our spending habits and be totally prepared to make my 2011 budget on January 1st next year.”
    Should read:
    “We will closely monitor our spending habits and be totally prepared to make our 2011 budget on January 1st next year.”

  4. Expenses are actually cheaper when shared. It's true that there will be some changes in how you budget and plan though but this is why the both of you need to sit down and talk about finances. What you individually do and what you would do as a couple. Would you share everything? Split 50/50? Do as a percentage of your income? This all needs to be discussed. I strongly suggest you also talk about the wedding and the finances of it. How you will plan and pay for everything and how it'll affect you later (should you go big).

  5. Trying to figure out money the first few months after my husband and I were married was difficult. Fortunately extra money you get as wedding gifts can help offset the costs. Probably the best thing to do is to base all money decisions after the wedding on your income (since it's steady). Any extra income that she brings in can go towards fun/shopping and the rest to a savings/emergency fund. Hopefully girl ninja is as financially minded as you are, or you two could end up having money argument. The best question to ask is if girl ninja is currently able to live on her own on her current income, without incurring debt. If the answer is yes, then the cost of living should be cheaper for the both of you, if the answer is no… you may want to discuss finances and spending habits before the wedding.

  6. There's already some really excellent comments here… So I'll just re-iterate the ones I like best ๐Ÿ˜‰

    – Talk to Girl Ninja. She and you should have a totally open conversation about how much savings/debt each of you has – see if she has a plan for hers tell her your plan – and try to come up with one together. A good place to start is coming up with your top two or three goals (together) so you both know what you're working towards.
    – It's all WE now…. no more I's
    – I agree that some things will be cheaper (rent/utilities ect)… some things will be more (gas..groceries – but not necessarily double).

  7. We've been married nine and a half years, but have only been living on a budget since May 2009. We do our budget every pay period. That way, we know exactly how much money we have to work with (my pay doesn't vary much, but occasionally I get a little overtime) and we know exactly what our expenses are (we have the utility bills in front of us when we do the budget.) We budget everything down to the last penny. (Well, down to the last dollar anyway.) If you and GN are going to have a variable income (due to her fluctuating pay), that might be the best way to do it, at least for the first six months of your marriage, until you both get used to all the changes in budgeting / spending / saving that come along with being married. I'm sure that sounds like a lot more work to you, but I think it will do two things: get the two of you communicating very regularly about money, and give you a better handle on the income and expenses you have. Our budget meetings last only about 15-20 minutes these days, and we can often do them over lunch or dinner.

  8. Check out Man vs. Debt about how he budgets with a variable income.
    And with the fiance – start talking now. Don't try to impose "your way", instead ensure it's a conversation. Start out with goals – kids, buying a house, grad school. Here's something great – car insurance decreases when you get married. But don't forget you might want to purchase life insurance.

    Cost of wedding? Whatever you want, as long as you plan. There are tons of non-expensive wedding blogs out there, but "wedding" will become a budget item. GL!!!

  9. First of all, you need to talk to your fiance about money and make sure you're on the same page with goals, spending etc. I'm a bit surprised you've got to the engagement stage and haven't done this. Don't presume your way is right or force her into doing things your way.

    Secondly, you know your budget, but does she currently have one? She already has to live with her variable income, how is she managing it? You'll find that out by talking to her.

    Finally, if you want a worst-case scenario, assume your groceries, petrol etc etc will stay the same and so will hers. In other words work out what you're both spending and add it together. Since you currently both manage, you should continue to do so. If she hasn't got a budget, then double your amounts. Then you'll be pleasantly surprised when things come under rather than getting a nasty shock.

  10. I have definitely had many finance talks with Girl Ninja so it's not a matter of communicating money. Maybe I was unclear in my post, but I was more concerned with not knowing how many groceries we will eat combined, or what our future rent is going to be, etc. Those aren't things we will really know until we are married. We have definitely sat down together and talked money, spending, budgeting, saving, etc, so that is not a concern. We both have equal votes ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Some of these budgetary concerns are really small potatoes. I wouldn't worry as much about the grocery money as with two things above all: 1) where you're going to live and 2) your tax status.

    For the first of these, if you're going to rent, you'll need to know how much you're paying and what furniture you'll need immediately. You may even want to look into buying a home or apartment, as interest rates are very low and if you have enough for a 20% down payment and can get a good fixed rate on a mortgage, this might be a good time. If you can itemize deductions, you'll also get a lot of tax benefit from the mortgage interest.

    As for taxes, you will have to file starting in 2010 as married jointly, and this will affect your tax rates, your withholding, and consequently the amount you're taking home. Here's something for you to read:


  12. The taxes point is a good one!

    Mainly, though, I think your plan of attack is a good one. Budget for foreseeable future, go from there. (By the way, why would your rent change? You not staying in your current place?)

    That said, don't forget having to budget for the wedding. Though I think you have savings, which will help immensely. I would still set budgets. Things get out of hand FAST. Depending on your priorities, it can be a wide range.

    My advice, completely unasked for of course, would be to budget assuming she gets maybe $200-300 a month. That way, the pressure is off. And any extra can go toward the wedding, the honeymoon or into savings. Plus it'll make you guys feel really good to see all that money go into the bank!

    Living together isn't all that complicated — at least, financially. As it is, I'm betting you guys already spend most of your time together. So things like groceries are probably already pretty similar to married life. Plus, think of the money you'll get from selling the duplicates that you guys have! Or a big tax deduction if you donate them.

    The hardest part of dual finances, I think, is knowing that someone is out there, spending money that you need to keep track of. Tim has ADD, so, while he does his best, he's still prone to being impulsive or just not even looking at what things cost. (A concept entirely foreign to me.) He's gotten a lot better over the last couple of years, but we've still got different styles that we work to mesh together. It can be a good thing, though, because I tend to deny myself too much, trying to save money. Tim reminds me to enjoy (small) things now and again to keep sane.

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