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Dave Says-Taking The Dread Out Of Budgeting

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Dear Dave,

I’ve been trying to get my sister and her husband on your plan, but they’re hesitant to try living on a budget. They make good money, and both of them think doing a budget every month would be too difficult and take too much time. Do you have any suggestions I could pass along that might make them realize that making a budget isn’t so hard or time-consuming?

Kelsey {{more}}

Dear Kelsey,

Believe me, I hear those excuses all the time. In most cases, the people who say these kinds of things don’t really understand what a budget is or how to efficiently put one together. If you’ve followed my advice, you learned first-hand that budgeting isn’t scary once you get the hang of it. Household budgets don’t need to be about hours of tedious math and complicated formulas. Like most things in life, simple is usually best.

A good way to simplify budgeting, especially for couples, is by making it a team effort. It’s important to make sure your spouse is on board, and knows what’s up with the budget, because you’re just asking for problems when one spouse is doing all the planning and the other is doing all the spending.

Sit down together for a few minutes, once a month, and have a budget meeting where you look at your income, your outgo, and you both give every dollar a name and a job to do. It’s really that simple. Share your ideas, your hopes, and your dreams for the future, as well as the fears you have. The important thing is that you’re both in agreement and working together. That alone will make your lives, your budget, and your money easier to handle.

Also, make sure you have cut up all your credit cards and closed the accounts. No more credit cards means fewer bills to add to the budget, fewer complications, and zero worries about fees and interest rates. Stick to using a debit card and cash. After all, they’re both part of the plan!

Making a schedule for budget meetings and bill payments is a good idea, too. You can even make your budget meetings a fun time by including your favorite snacks. Set up auto drafts out of your checking account to pay bills, and buy your groceries on a set day every week or twice a month. When you know what to expect and when, it takes a lot of stress and potential pitfalls out of the budgeting picture.

There’s always some work and discipline that goes along with gaining control of your money. But a budget doesn’t need to be torture. A little planning, communication, and some basic math will go a long way—and it won’t be nearly as time-consuming, or as difficult, as you think!

Idea behind the legacy drawer

Dear Dave,

A friend recently told me about you and your teachings about money. While we were talking, she mentioned something called a “legacy drawer” for important papers. Can you explain more about this?

Anna

Dear Anna,

Simply put, a legacy drawer is a collection of your essential documents in a safe place where your family and loved ones can find them when you die, or if you’re sick or disabled. It doesn’t have to be a drawer, specifically, just a safe, secure place where you keep all the pieces of your financial life—your will, living will, estate plan, investment statements, insurance policies, and property deeds. You should also include stuff like power of attorney documents, bank and lock box access information, and any other instructions for and information about your last wishes and what you leave behind.

The stress and grief when someone becomes seriously ill or dies is bad enough. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be by leaving your finances and other essentials in a mess!

—Dave

*Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, includingThe Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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