{Budgeting your family’s money, part I}

Budget, noun: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.

No, don’t run away. Come back here — budgets are actually incredibly awesome and not that hard. Honest! Remember how I quit my day job 3 months ago to sew on Gussy exclusively? Yeah, that was because Zack and I made a family budget and stuck with it!!! When you create a budget you KNOW where your money is going and you TELL your money where to go. It’s a super awesome, powerful feeling.

Yay, budgets :]

Besides, I don’t want to be slave to a paper bill. I want to be a princess. That sews all day long because she wants to. Amen.

It’s OK if you’re scared to write a budget — sometimes Zack and I are scared to write a new budget when we get off track or our income changes.

But guess what? Non-budgeted money is even scarier — it can take you on a wild roller coaster and it’s like a dirty pile of poo if you aren’t the boss. Zack and I have Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, but I’ll be honest: it took some convincing to get me on board. Having read about the benefits of living as a cash-only family, I can now say that this book has changed our lives. It taught us many things, the main thing being no debt!

{woo hoo! quick skip around the apartment!}

Zack and I were 23 and 22 when we got married — we were young {we still are young :] } so we weren’t fully molded in any one way, especially when it came to money.

Money could have wedged itself between us and taken us on a wild roller coaster. Actually, if we had been open to debt I can’t imagine where we’d be right now, because shortly after getting married {ahem, 7 months later but I’m not counting} we BOTH lost our jobs. It was horrible but amazing, intertwined as one. Have you ever been suddenly unemployed? I have. Ewww. And I say “ewww” because not having a job can make you feel icky about yourself as your income is now dropped to 60% of what was and you wonder “How God..? Where God…? When God…?” And then the low self-esteem sinks in, and that’s icky.

But guess what {again}? God doesn’t want us to feel icky because He has great plans for us.

He also wants us to put our money to good use, to use it to do great things for others and for God. And I’d like to take a moment to say that I have had credit cards {sorry Mom!} but that was in college {Mom, don’t be mad} and they are now paid off. But… what did I buy with those credit cards?

I have no clue!!! Again, that’s icky.

I found this bible verse and it reminded me of how debt can easily multiply because it becomes something we hide/deny {from others or ourselves}:

Isaiah 29:15 (NIV)

    Woe to those who go to great depths
    to hide their plans from the LORD,
    who do their work in darkness and think,
    “Who sees us? Who will know?”

Back to my original point here…
Although Zack and I both had a little debt going into marriage, we joined our bank accounts blending our incomes as one, and committed to NO MORE DEBT.

I know I don’t fully understand how powerful NO DEBT is… I don’t, because we barely dipped our fingers into its poison. But we currently don’t experiencedit because we have chosen to never allow ourselves to experience it again.

We like to think of money as a tool that belongs beneath uswe are in control, not it.


I wrote the other day about updating our family budget {we are moving soon so we have some new numbers to play with} and starting a budget for the business. Some of you asked to share some tips and I’m happy to help :]

{photo credit}

A few months ago I wrote a post explaining how I quit my day job to work on Gussy exclusively, but this time around I want to elaborate more on the financial side of it.

How to save money, fast!

Zack and I spent a few months leading up to my quit date saving money for a “Gussy Quit” fund. We worked up a budget that allowed us to take every single non-critical dollar and put it towards a savings account. I also put the majority of all Gussy sales into this savings account. This method allowed us to save money fast.

We knew exactly how much money Zack and I made each month, and we had a really good estimate of what Gussy brought in each month. We also new what all of our monthly expenses were.

To save the most, this is what we did:

    Each pay period we mapped out every bill that needed to be paid before the next pay period came. If we had ANY money left over it went to the “Gussy Quit” fund. By repeating this method every 2 weeks we were able to map out the next few months. We had a very good handle on what our expenses would be, which was key to settling on an end date. This method also allowed us to make a chart, which we called the Count Up/Family Goal, and it was so encouraging! We could see that in two weeks we’d have ____ saved, in a month we’d have ____, and so on. I made a little box in my sidebar and kept track of this “secret” Count Up/Family Goal. Every time we added to our savings we increased the number in the box.

    To further encourage this “Gussy Quit” fund I would challenge myself to increase my Gussy sales. All money brought in that was in addition to what I
    needed Gussy to bring in was like a little bonus to our savings account.

    …And you can imagine I did a double skip around the apartment when that happened :]

We were very, very tight with our entertainment/fun spending {we did allow a little to be spent…}. Once all bills were paid and we had tithed, the rest went towards building up the “Gussy Quit” fund.

*Tip: If you don’t have a financial goal that your saving for, but simply love to save your money, this plan of only spending what’s absolutely necessary is a great way to get started on a generic savings account.


How much did we save? About 3 months of my salary.

How long did that take? About 8 weeks.

And you know what kinda drives me nuts? For nearly 6 months prior to this decision we had frivolously spent all of our money on… on… I have no clue! We didn’t have a budget, even though we knew how to write one.

So, I write these things to encourage you to set some amazing goals for your family’s budget. I want you to think of some financial goals that you’re excited to start working towards. I want you to have something in mind that will motivate you to follow through with your new budget. Deal?

Up next: part II, how to write your budget.

Got questions?

Leave them in the comments section and I’ll answer them!


future posts:
{Budgeting your business’ money, part I}

{Budgeting your business’ money, part II}

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  1. 1


    I love this post! This is very encouraging and I am so thankful that you incorporated scripture into it. I took a budget class at the seminary my husband attends- and the teacher rightly explained that budgeting is a discipline and that having our money under control gives us freedom! I’m still learning how to budget (not quite on cash-only, but aim to be soon) and it has been amazing how God has provided for our family in the last year. We are adopting from Ethiopia and it has been SO neat to see how being disciplined in the financial are has led to bringing home our baby!

    Thanks, Gussy, i love your blog!

  2. 3


    i am so happy & so grateful for the budgeting 101 a la gussy mini-series! it’s been a while since you & i have chit-chatted, but we’re going to be a single income family soon. actually, right now. we unfortunately have debt, but we have a good grip on it & are snowballing as best as our finances allow {this debt has been reduced by 2/3 in the last few years, too}.

    it’s not easy. it’s not always fun. but, it is possible.

    can’t wait to read tomorrow’s installment!


    • 4


      HIGH FIVE to reducing your debt by 66% — that’s fabulous! :]

      you’re right, it’s not fun, but it will be fun in the future! you’re going to look back on this and be so grateful to not have the weight of debt on your back anymore!

  3. 5


    Great information! We just recently read The Total Money Makeover and are just getting started with our new financial plan. Dave Ramsey is wonderful! Thanks for sharing your money story and tips.

  4. 6


    My situation is a little complicated {still living at home without a steady income, but I do have ways to earn money}, but I can relate on the “spending money on nothing”. I hate when I look at my bank account and wonder, what have I spent this on??

    So, I will be following Gussy’s tips and try to work it into my own life. Thanks!

  5. 7


    How ironic that you are sharing this series this week. My whole day yesterday was spent updating our computer money program. My eyes were numb. But boy did I skip around the house when I was done. Then I made cookies to celebrate. Soooo boring, but so worth it!

    Looking forward to your thoughts tomorrow!

  6. 9


    Amen sister. We just revamped our budget in July and it’s been a little rough going for us to get in the groove – but we’re on our way. And yes, I was in a similar jobless and shocked state a year ago. It’s become a really good thing but was awful at the time. Thanks for sharing!

  7. 10


    Very interesting. :) We are debt free (aside from our mortgage) but we have a credit card that we use all the time (we pay it off every month). We fly a lot so we use that credit card all the time. However, if left to my own devices (or my own credit card) I’d be in big trouble. I USED to be in big trouble–I was single, made a good living, and lived it up: designer bags, fancy stuff, lavish spa treatments, etc. Ridiculous. Now, I spend my $ on my kids and yes, me, but within limits. I still struggle with where I spend my money and am trying to re-do my budget and financial goals so I am more conscious of it. Great post! You are doing great things for your future, that is for sure. :)

    • 11


      it’s never too late to make better choices.

      not to sit here and say “you made a bad choice with your money,” but for YOU to be able to say you did, and then change your ways — that is just awesome! i’m so proud :]

      no one is ever perfect, no method is ever perfect, but trying *is* a perfect solution.

  8. 12

    Christa says

    I’m grabbing my coffee and going to read about the business budget :)! I like how you have put things in your own words :)

  9. 14


    THANK YOU!!!
    I really needed this. Like really really needed this! I’ve been bouncing in and out of debt for the last 6 years and of course hate every second of it and I’ve been wanting to sit down and make a wonderful budget or at least track my money but I’ve always been embarrassed! Thank you for incorporating scripture with it because I’ve been forgetting to ask for God’s help with this. Thank you again and again!

  10. 15


    We have similar stories…my husband and I got married at 20 & 19 (that sounds so weird but we were very ready!) and I was ALWAYS debt free/saver/pay off cards every month type of person. My husband was not. We bought a house that was too much for us, and tried to sell it (ugh…a month before the housing crash…so it stayed on the market for FOR-EV-ER!). We had TONS AND TONS of debt…as in, (w/o mortgage included, but credit cards + student loans)….$25,000.
    After following Dave Ramsey’s steps loosely (we don’t do cash anymore, though we did do that for over a year) we got rid of most of it in just over a YEAR & a HALF! AND it was on ONE income…since I stay at home with our kids full time.
    We could have stretched it out longer and perhaps went out to eat more, or whatever…but we are SO happy now without it. We still have a small amount of student loan. Through those tough times where we almost never went out to eat, made everything from scratch including all gifts, food, even our own laundry detergent….we realized how foolishly we and others spend our money…on crap! We will NEVER own another credit card again (Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t go without them…you DEFINITELY can!) and we will never have debt again….even our next car…when ours finally hits the dust (like, in 10 years or more), we’ll have saved up so we can buy it with cash.
    EVeryone needs to read budgeting tips & this or any other budget series!! It’s SOOO important.
    Sarah M

    • 16


      ah jeez….sorry for the novel! I am so passionate about supporting those who want to get out of debt. It is close to my heart since I think (like you) we are not to be slaves of anything, money + debt included. :)

      Once you’re out you realize how much you’ve been cheating yourself out of.


  11. 18


    Great post, girl! :) my husband and I were a part of the Crown financial bible study last year and included many of the same points you discussed! I do need to be better with budgeting- like you said, I’ll be so much happier when I do! Excited to read part II :)

  12. 19


    I was spending money on silly lunches and stuff for a couple of months last year and I thought ‘why do I keep wasting money like this?’. So 2010, I decided to be very frugal and save money wherever I can. I now walk to work, pack my lunch (or buy supplies in the supermarket which is a lot cheaper also), only buy stuff on sale, dont go shopping for any non-essential items, and managed to save quite a bit! Not as much as you really and my bonus hasnt come through for 6 months running which is a real downer, but all in all I am quite pleased as all this money would have gone to other frivolous things instead. Just by walking to work I am saving £50 a month! Plus I really hope to get a little fitter also ;) Thanx for sharing your tips!

  13. 22

    Stacey says

    Ditto to everyone else. Just the other day I was thinking that I need to stop spending my extra money on… I don’t even know and it needs to be saved. My parents actually got me on the Dave Ramsey envelope plan and I have been doing them for years. I can say that it has gotten away from me a little bit. I’m married now, with a daughter and a part-time job. I just graduated from college and I am looking for a full-time teaching job. I need so desperately to start saving now (we have some money put away, but not enough) and we need to stick with it.

    This is so inspirational. I can’t wait to read the rest of the posts. Thanks Gussy! <3

  14. 23


    What a great inspiration! It’s so great that you have learned such valuable lessons at your young age. Budgets are so important. I learned the hard way. 7 years ago, right after I had my second child, I lost my job due to downsizing. We were drowning in debt and I was so scared. Luckily, I was hired back after 3 months to a different department at my old company. My husband and I vowed to fix our financial problems. We went to a non-profit credit counseling agency. It took us 5 years, but we’re now debt free (besides a mortgage and 1 car loan). I lost that job in February 2009, when unemployment was at it’s peak (I think) in Michigan. Because we paid everything off and saved, I am now able to stay home with my kids (and new baby). We’re reviewing our budget because we’ve gotten off our plan. Thank you for this as I can use the inspiration to redo our budget and stay on target.

  15. 24

    Elizabeth S says

    I love your website & bags :) They’re so stinking cute! Thank you for doing this series on budgeting. My husband & I are “starting” but we have a WAYS to go! We both spend too much in our own areas… on “wants” rather than “needs.” Thanks for the encouragement!

  16. 25


    I just recently started reading your blog and I have to comment about this post. My husband and I have been following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program for about a year and a half now, and we have paid off about 40K in debt! It’s amazing what God can do with obedient hearts and a little frugality. We don’t make that much money, so it still amazes me that we have come so far. At this point, we are in the homestretch of the debt snowball, and we have about 14K to go. We recently lost most of my income, so it will be slower going for now, but we know it will get done. What a good feeling that will be when it’s all gone!

  17. 26


    Great post! My hubs and I have been married 6 years. We took a FPU course at our church right before we got married and it was the BEST thing we ever could have done! We committed to no debt, paying off debt and we haven’t looked back. You have encouraged me to remember my goal of staying home and start focusing on that again! Thanks for sharing!

  18. 27


    “most”, but not “All”, please be aware) enjoy their masiiialettrc life and they seldom discuss social issues.I am sorry, I enjoy masiiialettrc life, but I also enjoy critical thinking. I want to know more social issues around my society.I am not a perfect Hong Kong teen. That is why I study overseas and learn what Americans do good.


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