A Look Inside Our Weekly Budget Meeting

1 07 2008


Photo courtesy of rubymatt

My wife came up with this great idea for a post: a brief walkthru of our weekly budget meeting.

I’m sure some of you out there who are just starting out have experienced the ‘thrill’ of the 2 hour budget meeting, but I assure you it will get better. The more consistently you meet, the faster the meetings will go in the future. You will soon find that both you and your spouse are improving the way you both approach and communicate about finances.

I remember back in October when we first started having meetings…. pure disaster! It would take forever for us to get through it, and just the thought of how our finances looked at the time caused a great deal of tension. Many nights we didn’t even want to sit down and look at the budget because we just KNEW it was going to end in silence, or frustration, or that defeated feeling when you know you’ve got more ‘month than you do money’.

BUT YOU MUST KEEP AT IT!

You have to consider the first few meetings like Training Camp. When the team gets together to shake off the rust of the off season and learn what direction the team wants to grow for the season. You learn your routes, learn to read your teammates, and learn how to respond to game time pressure. This is where you solidify your financial chemistry with your spouse which is extremely important because…

How you arrive at decisions about your money is just as important as paying down the debt.

If you are married, this must be a team effort and you both need to have equal say. If you both can’t agree how to proceed, Husband it’s your call. God made you the head of the household for a reason and this is one of those times when it counts. BUT it usually doesn’t even have to come to this point because there is almost always a mutually agreeable solution… or at least there should be. However if it does come to this point, I urge you husbands to make your decision in a way that will best serve your family, not just to ‘have your way’ or make a point. Sometimes the wisest decision a husband can make is to listen to what his wife says and act on it.

Time is of the essence…

Your weekly meeting should not be a long drawn out event. In fact the shorter the amount of time you take, the better as long as you cover the basics of your meeting. The meeting should be viewed as a tool to keep you motivated and informed of your progress from week to week. I cant stress enough that the first few weeks wont look or even feel good, but soon after you will see the progress, the preparation, and the peace that comes from being on the same page with your spouse.

To help you increase the impact and efficiency of your budget meeting, I’ve broken this post down into a few sections.

– Establishing an agreeable meeting time.
– Finding a place outside of the home where you can meet.
– The tools you should have handy.
– The Objectives you should meet at every meeting, NO EXCEPTIONS.
– Goals to set for the next meeting.

Times that you should NOT be meeting:

-Late at night – It can RUIN you sleep for the night…

-Early in the morning – It can RUIN the day ahead…

-When either of you are sleepy, cranky, hungry or watching ‘the game’ or Iron Chef. lol

Any time other than the three I mentioned is highly recommended.

Rendezvous Point:

Where you meet helps determine how effective you meeting will be. I don’t recommend doing them at home because you can easily be distracted, or tempted to multi-task other things at the same time. Instead, I recommend meeting at a coffee shop, restaurant of public library (my personal favorite). It’s good to find a relaxing environment, but not a cozy one. Or if the weather is decent you can meet outside, the fresh air will help you concentrate.

Tools of the trade:

-Prayer, always start with it!

-An agenda of the items you want to focus on.

2 copies of the budget. *You will both need your own copy for note taking, doodling, and editing, because your budget NEVER stays as it was first drafted.

OR

-Paper to take notes. *Trust me by the 2nd day you’ll have forgotten everything if it isn’t down on paper. This saves you from recapping all of last weeks’ meeting this week! lol

-Resource materials such as The Total Money Makeover, or the book/program you may be following. *This is optional, but helpful to have at the ready. Don’t try to do it all yourself, there is plenty of help out there available to you, most of it free.

Prime Objectives: (If nothing else gets discussed, these are a MUST…)

Naturally there are topics that you should strive to discuss every time you meet. Here are a few, but your list depends on how you both approach things.

-“The 4 Walls”: Food, Clothing, Shelter, Transportation.

-Know your next payday.

-Know what dates each expense/payment is next due.

-Know who does what: who’s calling the creditor, writing the check, withdrawing the cash, dropping off the payment, addressing the envelope, putting the stamp on it, purchasing the stamps if you don’t have any, and who’s placing the envelope in the mailbox. *The ‘who’ does not and should NOT have to be one person. This is a team effort!

-Know when each of the prior items should be done by.

Close with a look ahead to the next meeting:

-Have tangible goals you would like to see completed by the time you next meet.

-Discuss payments, conflicts, possible problems you foresee on the horizon.

-Propose changes in strategy or format. *This can be helpful because your partner wont feel like a suggested change has been ‘sprung’ upon them. It gives them enough time to think and digest the suggestion in time for the next meeting. It’s both a considerate and fair way to voice your objections if you don’t like how something is going. And it also means your not just ‘complaining’ about the process, your bringing a solution to the table.

Well that’s about all there is to it! If you take some of these things into consideration going forward, I’m sure it will help smooth parts of the process out for you. And as always if you have any suggestions of how you and your family do something differently, please let us know in the comments section!

Till we ‘meet’ again… get it? lol

@W

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