Taking the Wheel

My husband Mike and I are working on regaining control of our finances.

I am in graduate school.  After the first semester of studying voice pedagogy, we decided that I should seize the opportunity of being in school full-time and take on a second master’s degree in arts management.  So now, I am working on both degrees and will graduate next spring.

Being a graduate student is not financially lucrative.  Money has been tight the entire time we’ve been here, and while I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a full assistantship, living in Northern VA on one income with school expenses has not been easy.  That said, we haven’t always been completely responsible with our finances, either.  We like to travel, spend time with those we love, and seize opportunities, even if they’re not the best choices for our budget.

As I finish this second year of school with one year to go, we both feel burdened to take control of our finances: live within our means, pay off debt, put money away for the future.  [ENTER LIFESTYLE CHANGES HERE]

Today was spent reviewing our spending over the past few months and creating a budget that balanced within one income.  This was an emotional process for both of us, and we’re not balanced yet.  But, this initial step and recognizing areas where we’ve been lax in our spending (like, dining out) is the first step in becoming FINANCIALLY FREE.  And, as frustrating as it can be, it gets better from here.

{do tell!}

What has been the most effective strategy for taking control of your finances?  What have your struggles been?