Beyond all of the advice we got from Dave Ramsey, finance books, articles, etc, there was one thing we did while getting out of debt that was a game-changer for us.
When we first started budgeting, I would get a little stressed out having to budget every 2 weeks or guessing as to what our income would be so I could budget accurately. I was teaching which produced a paycheck that was always the same, but my husband was doing hourly work, and we each picked up 2nd and 3rd jobs to help tackle the debt. I would do a budget but then have to go back and revise to add in the rest of the money we made or, if I had over estimated, take things out of the budget to get everything to zero.
I didn’t like it.
So then Ryan had a brilliant idea. We would get our income a month ahead, meaning that everything we made in September would be budgeted for October and so forth. We had to wait a few months to make it happen and ended up using our tax return to do it. We essentially left all of the tax return money in our account and as money came in for the month, we added it to the following month’s budget.
When it came time to budget, I knew, to the penny, how much we were working with.
This has eliminated so much stress.
There is no guesswork.
There is no need to revise.
Getting out of debt and controlling your finances comes down to details. Budgeting is a detailed process that takes planning and forethought. Getting a month ahead was the thing that really allowed us to budget as accurately as possible and took away the need to budget more than once a month or go back and revise.
This isn’t necessarily doable for everyone since it takes a fairly substantial extra influx of cash since you need to basically have double your income in one month, but if you can swing it, through a tax refund, a sinking fund, an inheritance, a gift, whatever, I highly recommend it.