Debt-Free Living

Budget Intensity: Does It Matter?

I often get asked, “Rachel, how intense do I need to be with my budget? Do I really have to be hard core about it?” My answer varies by person, and it will always depend on your situation. The biggest factor in your intensity level is whether or not you’re out of debt.

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  • Micah

    Cutting ice cream out of the budget is hard!!! I have to cut it out all the way otherwise I am wanting me a pint of good old Ben and Jerry’s every night! It adds up!

  • callie

    When you talk about getting out of debt does that include paying of the house? Other than our mortgage, my husband and I have no debt.

    • Jackie

      I’m wondering the same thing.

    • Lisa

      For this topic, where she is talking about being super strict on the budget and getting out of debt, no it doesn’t include the mortgage. Paying off the mortgage in the steps she’s referring to is after you are out of all other debt besides the mortgage, have 3-6 months worth of expenses saved in a a “rainy day fund,” are contributing 15% to retirement and funding kids’ college funds (if applicable). Then you would go after the mortgage.

  • Lori

    We cut the cable back in December – a battle i’ve been fighting for 5 years now — and it’s been awesome! Don’t miss the 200+ channels when we have Netflix for cold weekends… and it’s been a reward bc there’s more family time!

  • Jennifer Renee Dixon

    My husband and I are on baby step number 5! We keep the cell phone bills low by sticking with Boost mobile and we don’t do cable. We did cut out internet for a while but had to get it back on for my husband to run his business more efficiently from home! nnOur next step is to cut WAY back on eating out.. It will be hard for us because we like to get out of the house a lot so it will definitely be a lifestyle change. We’ll just have to start inviting people over more often!

  • Megan Kovach

    We have cut back on getting take out and going out. Which is soooooo hard, because I so don’t want to cook 95% of the time. BUT we’re getting a lot paid off by sticking to the budget, which is nice.

  • Cortney

    We already don’t have cable and have a really low internet option. We lived fairly frugally even before, but when we got really serious, we cut out meat! I’m from Texas, and I cut meat! Talk about hard, we eat meat at every meal!! But living in So. FL now it’s expensive so we ate little to no meat for 16 months until we were debt free. Once we were, I bought steak twice in the same week the very next week!! It was soooo worth the sacrifice.

  • That’s an easy question. The hardest thing for me to cut out was all of the “deals” that I found. I has to learn to say “no” and understand that even though I might have to pay 15%, the lesson I was learning was worth it.

  • Courtney

    Still in the getting out of debt phase (student loans). It’s REALLY hard to stick to the budget when I can serve others. I want to be able to host parties and help out a friend who is in need but I’m learning how to balance that with taking care of what I owe the government. If I have time, I think and pray about it before I give the money away. Sometimes I even get the cash back in return! That’s a nice surprise! Can’t wait for the day when it is no problem to just give money away!

  • Jessica

    A lot of my friends (and I) are turning 30 within the same year. My husband and I have been married 5 years, and he has always been the saver/ planner/ budgeter. We are debt free with 2 little ones. I FINALLY got on board with my husband (after reading Smart Money Smart Kids) to really be intense and stick to our budget. Now I’m not just doing it because we argue if I don’t. I actually care and see why we should! Anyway, we keep getting asked to go on 30th birthday trips/ expensive nights out/ etc and there is just no way we can do it all. It’s so incredibly hard to miss out, but I know why we can’t say yes to it all. nRachel- if you have ANY advice on how to turn these things down (besides me just saying it’s not in our budget- people think that’s weird to say ud83dude0a) I would love to hear it!

    • Amy

      Jessica, my husband and I are in the same boat. There’s always something happening, and if we want to stick to our budget we can’t always join in, but we love our friends and our community! Missing the trips is hard and I wish I had a creative solution for that, but we created an “entertaining” envelope in our budget, where we put money specifically to have people over to our house in lieu of the expensive evenings out. We can have another couple over for a nice meal about everything month OR we can let the amounts rollover for a few months and have a really nice dinner party (which we just did). The money goes so much further when we eat at home AND we get to spend time with friends too. It’s become a special custom in our house.

  • Roseann

    Cutting out weekend getaways with the family. We have learned to get creative with day trips to free attractions and more adventures at home with the kids. Still creating great memories!

  • Christi

    oh my goodness! Tonight I picked my 6 yr old daughter up from school & had to rush to an appointment. On the way she accidentally spilled a large lemonade ALL OVER HER CLOTHES! Soaked to the bone in the Denver cold! I had to pull in to Target and grab a new outfit (even undies) from the clearance rack! This was NOT in my budget! I was like- does this count for the emergency fund lol! Life happens – we keep moving and doing our best!

  • thawise_one!

    This is awesome!!! I love your heart to help people out of debt and be more wiser with money.. Ever since I followed the steps and got our finances in a good place, I too have a passion to help people out of poverty, debt and learn to manage their money properly.. Bless you guys, continue to share that knowledge, praying for Gods many blessings over you & your family and your business 🙂

    • Suzer

      thats so awsome! my husband and I started the Dave Ramsey plan 4 years ago. have failed & starting again :/ I would be a terrible rich person, because what I love to do is help others. ( to the point it hurts us financially unfortunately). What I wouldnt give to be debt free just 1 time have the chance in life. Ive worked for everything I have in life, my education, to help my kids with college, and just seem to get the raw end of the deal. my ex left me all the bills, trashed the house, I had to fix it up, and keep moving along. praying to get through the baby steps & feel so much better .

  • A

    Travel! We love going on new adventures but let’s face it, they’re super expensive!!! Cutting that out to build our EF was tough and a little boring! We did it though and just planned a spring vacation to Cali!!! n