Sallie & Perkins: A Zero-Based Budget

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First off, we just have to share that we had a record-breaking August. We dug deep and kept our spending to a very minimal amount. And it worked! Imagine that!

Sallie & Perkins paid off: $3,050.39 in August!!!

Since we started sharing our journey to become debt-free, it has amazed me how many people don't have ANY type of budget at all. So many people just live paycheck to paycheck, never look at how much money is spent on what things each month and it blows.our.minds. We are constantly looking at our bank account online and monitoring our spending/payments.

If we didn't have some type of budget in place, we would be in a much worse shape financially right now. We never want to come across preach-y because let's get real-- we're not perfect, we don't know it all and we didn't do anything about our debt for the first two years of our marriage! Okay. Now that we clarified that- we want you to MAKE A BUDGET!!! We can't stress it enough. So many people are afraid to face the cold, hard facts and see their spending habits on paper. It's scary- trust us. But it was the #1 reason we were finally able to put a plan in place and start paying down our debt. It's a huge eye-opener.
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It doesn't matter if you're single, married, with or without kids- everyone needs to have some type of budget, even a loose one to structure your spending around. Something Dave Ramsey taught us is to "spend every dime on paper before the month even starts" and it has helped tremendously. We know what our paychecks will be each month and we plan for bills, groceries, gas before each month begins. We look ahead to see if there are any birthdays or weddings or special events we'll be spending money at. Some of you have irregular paychecks/schedules and while I'm not expert in budgeting for those- again, Dave has a great article on it HERE. Gosh, Dave- are you reading MY blog yet?? ;)

Dave calls this method a Zero Based Budget and he's got a great article going into more details HERE if you're interested. We know almost EXACTLY what we'll be able to pay on our debt before the 1st of each month. Tweak your budget every single month! Sounds tedious? It is sometimes... but each month will be different and if you don't look ahead, you'll fail. Sorry- it's the truth! Take just a few minutes each month to look ahead like this - it'll save you money and some headaches.

Oh, and our last and probably most important budget advice? Budget for some fun! You have to!  No matter what your idea of fun is (What?! Not everyone loves StarWars Lego Wii games and Discover magazine?!) leave some room for it each month. Budget doesn't have to be a "bad" word.

You'll lose your mind without a little bit of "play" money for the month. Set a small, reasonable amount aside each month so that you can enjoy a night with friends, a cheap date night or just pick up a pair of earrings that you love! Budgets don't have to be all bad- it's just about having a plan!

36 comments

  1. You guys KILLED IT last month!!!!!!! Woo!!!!!!!

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  2. Whoa, I am so impressed with how much you paid off last month! We follow the old fashioned method of writing down every cent we spend in an account book under its proper category and I love it--I feel so much more peaceful about finances being able to see everything that goes on with just a glance at the book!

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  3. Way to go ya'll!! I can't believe how much ya'll were able to pay off - that's awesome!

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  4. Oh my goodness--you guys are adorable! I can just picture how much fun you two have taking all of these crazy pics!! We love Dave Ramsey and the hubs teaches his class at our church!! It is life changing!! Great post!

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  5. WOOOHOOO!!! way to go, y'all that is flippin FANTASTIC! Keep rocking it out, I'm proud of how well y'all ahve done!!!!

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  6. Way to go, guys!

    One tip I have for people who are maybe not the best at budgeting/being disciplined but who still want to pay something off is to have a separate bank account that's only for that item. Like, I have a separate bank account that I only use to pay my student loans with. Every 2 weeks $950 gets direct deposited into that account (with the remainder going into my regular checking account), and just as quickly it gets auto-paid to my student loans! I find that it's not as painful since I don't think of it as money that I actually have, you know? :)

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  7. We are just starting in this whole budget thing, and I totally agree with what you're saying! Before we had a budget I was so oblivious to our spending and where our money was going, and I started to realize how NOT peaceful I felt about our finances, because I would constantly feel guilty when we would spend money on anything that was not a necessity. And when I did sit down and look at where the money was going, it would freak me out! Now that we have a plan and I sit down each month to figure everything out, I feel a peace knowing that I know where the money is going, and like you said we can even budget for fun and not feel guilty about it! We still have a long way to go on paying stuff off, but we are getting a handle on it and it feels great!

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  8. Way to go! You guys are awesome! You're so right about budgeting for 'play' AND not feeling guilty about it, I find myself saying that I have x amount of money to spend on myself each month but then I feel guilty about treating myself to Starbucks or clothes that I don't *need*. Definitely something I'm working on!

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  9. well done on last month! You rocked it! You are on your way to debt free! How much longer do you think? Light at the end of the tunnel?

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  10. You want to know what's really sad?? A friend of mine who works with money who now lives paycheck to paycheck because they bought a house out of their means and took out a loan for a down payment and a loan for their mortgage. So now they have this huge house and they don't go out because they don't budget. Makes no sense to me!!

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  11. Great job guys!!!!! People who live paycheck to paycheck boggle my mind too!! I just don't get it. They must be more free spirited than me!!

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  12. Great job last month! We use mint.com to set up our monthly budget. I love it because it links up our accounts and shows our purchases in real time. So if I think I'm going to "hide" a purchase somewhere, I have to account for it on mint first! Some months are better than others...like this month and an unexpected $700 charge for a new hot water heater, but we try to roll with the punches!

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  13. I look ahead each month and plan out my spending too - my only problem is that I tend to go crazy and try to put all my money towards debt repayment and then I have absolutely no money left over for gas, groceries etc haha. I just want to be debt free!

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  14. woohoo! good job on the debt slashing my friend! it's encouraging!!

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  15. Great job in August!

    I have our expenses laid out for the year, and every two weeks I look to figure out what we can pay more on/where we can put money aside for vacations/big expenses. You gotta have a plan!

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  16. This is so true!!! Budgeting is a life saver!!! I created an awesome spreadsheet that automatically adds/subtracts - allowing us to list out our expenses and then show us how much is remaining. It has truly changed our lives - and spending habits!!! :)

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  17. Holy balls! You guys rocked August. Now, please come have an intervention with Shawn and I. He thinks we have things under control. He's wrong. I do write my budget out every month, but still I struggle. Especially with the fun stuff. I want all the fun things all the time!

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  18. Go you guys!!! I fail in the budget category. I have set one up so many times, and I always let it fall to the wayside. Ugh. :(

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  19. I use YNAB, and one of the things I love about it is that you spent in your budget ONLY what you have in your account!

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  20. I get so excited when I see Sally & Perkins in my Bloglovin' feed! And now I'm going to go read about the zero based budget :) Thanks for always being so inspiring Sally & Perkins! ;)

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  21. that's INCREDIBLE! congrats! I always make a budget, my toughest challenge is sticking to it..

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  22. You guys are an inspiration! I need to start doing this to see what I can save. I do more of a "this is what we spent" approach instead of "this is what we have to spend."

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  23. You guys are doing awesome! We need to sit down and re-do our budget. Our income is a little different, our bills have changed and we haven't gone over it in awhile! Time to buckle down!

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  24. Dang girl, you two kick it up in August and took care of business! Way to go!

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  25. Congrats on a big month! Great advice! I'm with you, I couldn't function without a budget. I budget for everything in advance. I still go over budget a lot but at least I know whether I can really afford to or not. I can't imagine having no clue about how much money I'm spending.

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  26. What a great month!! I hope you guys are so close to killing your debt!! :) I could definitely be better about planning where my money is going but I do keep track of where it all goes so I feel like that helps keep my accountable! Great advice as always Sallie and Perkins!! :)

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  27. We just started financial peace university. I'm really excited to complete it. We work on the budget every month too.

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  28. I won't lie, I am a very lax budgeter. Luckily we don't have much debt at the moment so the heat isn't really on, but I have enjoyed Sallie and Perkins adventures and they are pretty much the best life coaches available! I might just give the old budgeting thing a try!

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  29. That is an awesome month!!! I have been trying really hard to force myself to use only cash or my debit card -- in turn not buying things I don't have to have. I have also worked on collecting a few coupons here and there to save at Krogers. It's a start! :)

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  30. Can you just do all this for me?

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  31. Congrats on such a successful month! Yay! Definitely going to make this a number one priority as we join finances after the wedding. I'd love to go through the Dave Ramsey series. He has a lot of great ideas!

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  32. Way to go! That is good advice, especially since I am starting a new job soon. Once I get adjusted to what I'll earn, I can adjust. Thanks for sharing!

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  33. Ohmygoodness that August amount is OUT OF CONTROL in the best of ways! Well done, lady (and 'Perkins')!

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