Just Go Left

Just Go Left Goes West: Budgeting for the Move

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Catch up on our series about heading west here: 

Moving Announcement

Planning the Move


The question I'm asked most often is "how the hell were you able to afford to move across the country?!" And my answer is "I don't know because we're broke now".

Okay, I exaggerated a little. We aren't broke, but sometimes it feels like we are. Moving in general is expensive, but moving across the country? You might as well start a fire and start throwing your money into it because that's what it feels like you're doing. 

Honestly, this is the area of our move where I feel like I learned the most. Money, as it turns out, is not my strong suit and budgeting is harder than I thought, especially when that budget is tied to a move that is going to cost THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF MY OWN MONEY.

Here's how we budgeted and saved for our move, and how we plan to budget and save in the future, since this plan worked so well for us (no fire included):

BE PREPARED TO GET VULNERABLE

The first thing Kyle and I did after we completed our moving research, took inventory and set our timeline (more on that in this post) was to sit down and look at our finances. We had to get really honest with each other about our individual debt and our spending habits which is, quite possibly, the most terrifying thing we've done in our relationship so far. We quickly learned that Kyle is a saver, I'm a spender and we needed to find a way to meet in the middle. Finances are a delicate topic for anyone, so to share the info was scary...but ultimately it helped us know exactly how to best execute our plan. And? It's actually HELPED our relationship. We are now way more comfortable planning for our future because we know how to handle our finances together.

Our advice: Have alcohol on-hand for this part. It blows.

SAVE IN A WAY THAT WORKS FOR YOU

Kyle and I took a leap of faith and opened a savings account together just for our move. That way we both had access to it, and could put money into it without interfering with our personal accounts. We also started an "emergency fund" for any car repairs or unforeseen moving costs that would come up as we relocated (and thank goodness we did, because my car ended up needing a new belt in Flagstaff, Arizona!). Watching these accounts grow over time was so rewarding and now we have a savings plan in place for our future. 

Our advice: Save in a way that works for you whether it's opening a bank account, using Dave Ramsey's Envelope System, having a piggy bank or shoving money under your mattress. We all look at and handle money differently, so don't take opening a bank account as the "be all, end all" to saving. 

CREATE AN ACTUAL BUDGET & KNOW WHAT YOU CAN SAVE

Finding a budget that works for you is like trying on different shirts at your favorite boutique: you'll try on several before finding the one that fits you best. No matter what you pick, no matter how you decide to do it, you must create a budget sheet. In order to know what you can save, you need to know where your money is going. Kyle and I started by saving our receipts for everything and adding them all up at the end of the month. We then identified where we could cut back and revisited our budget the following month to see how we did. We did this for 2-3 months until we figured out how much we could save each month, and then our savings plan began.

Here's a really helpful post about budgeting from Healthy Hits the Spot. This is the budget template Kyle and I followed, with a few modifications.

Our advice: Know where your money is going and be honest with yourself about what you can save. Be realistic about it: if you try to save too much you'll feel restricted and give up. If you save too little you'll feel like you aren't getting anywhere and give up. Lastly, find a budgeting system that works for you: don't be afraid to try a few different templates!

TRY TO SAVE THE SAME AMOUNT EACH MONTH

This was the "Anderson Cooper'" of our savings plan: aka it kept us honest. Suddenly, it became less important to get that mani/pedi because I knew I needed to put a set amount into our savings account and emergency fund. Putting a set amount into our savings account and emergency fund also helped us maintain our budget because we were paying bills first, saving second, spending third. By saving the same amount each month we also kept each other on track as we saved.

Our advice: Hold each other accountable for the amount you've set aside for savings.

GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR SAVINGS PLAN

As we began to get comfortable with our savings plan, Kyle and I noticed we rarely spent the full $100 of our allotted grocery budget (thank you Trader Joe's!). So, each time we spent less than $100, we asked for $5 cash back and put it in a jar. This became our gas money for driving across the country....and will become some "fun" money in our future!

Our advice: Find little, creative ways to make saving fun!

DON'T STOP, EVEN AFTER YOU'VE REACHED YOUR GOAL

Even though we're all moved in and our goal has been reached we are still using our savings plan to keep building our accounts for the future. Next goal? Buying a house! Oh, and paying for our wedding....SOMEDAY. 

Our advice: Make saving part of your lifestyle, not a one-off thing you do when you have something big coming up.

Coming next week: how we purchased for our move! 

PS: if you have questions about anything I've covered so far, or have more personal questions about making a big move, you can email me here! I'm happy to help!