My husband and I learned about budgeting while planning our wedding. We both knew we were going into our married life with several thousands of dollars in debt. I have forgotten the exact amount but it was about a few thousand. This was not including my husband’s car (I did not have one) which we were not even thinking about paying off at the time. Much of it was mine which was credit card deb. Interestingly enough we both had no school bills. Those had all been paid for. For some reason I had been smart enough to pay for school through scholarships and summer jobs.
Beforehand: To get started I called a debt help agency to see if they would help us out. After they quoted their monthly fee the lady then proceeded to tell me how she would accomplish paying down my debt. That probably wasn’t a good idea on her part. I thought, “Well I can do that myself.” I thanked her for her time and made a plan with my husband to be.
?First: We cut up our credit cards and I made a database listing how much was owed to each company, the address to mail payments, and how much was due each month. I’m the computer whiz in the family. Not a computer whiz just the family one.
Please note that at this time some of my own bills had gone into collections. I had amassed this debt in college and had a hard time paying it off shortly after because at the time I was helping to support my mother who had taken some time off of work to recuperate.
Then: We typed up letters to all the creditors informing them to cancel our accounts and how much we were able to pay and would be paying them each month. Truthfully I’m clueless as to what bill payment rules are these days but back then (about 15 years ago) if you put into writing how much you would pay and stuck to making that payment not matter how small the amount was the credit company could not call and harass you. So that is what we did.
So: Little by little we proceeded to pay off our bills a little bit at a time. One chunk at a time. When one bill was paid off we would take that amount and apply it to the next smallest bill. And so on until the last bill was paid. We did this from about a year before the wedding to about a year afterwards.
This took us about 2 years to pay off everything. We we both working at the time. At the same time we saved for our wedding so as not to have that bill hanging over our heads. Some big items we wedding gifts. The reception and my wedding dress. After the wedding we used one car. We ate out a little bit but it wasn’t a set thing to eat out each week or something like that. We still made our tithes and had money for small luxuries.
Paying off this initial debt helped us to be really good managers of our money. We learned what to do and how to do it to get our heads above water. It was very important to have a budget. We needed to know where our money was going and that continues to this day.