Getting Out of Debt 2: Budgeting for Needs and Wants

Is your budget tight? Ours is. It has been for years. It is getting better, but I have noticed that after doing without for so long, there is a long list of things that we need or high priority wants that can really make saving a difficult challenge.
To help us in this endeavor, I created a spreadsheet to allow us to prioritize those important needs, wants, dreams, and includes blessings, as well.
I started the spreadsheet with just prioritizing needs and wants for the family. A priority 10 need was life or death – or close to it and it went down from there. For example, I prioritized Sweet Pea's swimming lessons at a 10 and Pumpkin's at an 8 because Sweet Pea had never had swimming lessons before and loved the water, but Pumpkin had had swimming lessons. It was important to have Sweet Pea learn to swim for her own safety.
I “had” to add a Blessed item to Wants and Needs after we were blessed with God's provision through our friends for things we needed. I highly recommend including this for those times that there is no way you can do what you need to do on your own, but God comes through for you as a reminder of God's love and provision. It has certainly been helpful for us. It is especially helpful to be reminded of these things if you have just encountered a downturn in your family income. It is so easy to try to fix it or figure it out on your own and be self-sufficient, but when you realize that your best efforts cannot do what God can do, it is humbling and ever so helpful to strengthen you in doing what you are called to do and remain faithful to Him.
Please feel free to use this for your own benefit. I hope it proves helpful to you. To use most effectively, highlight the active cells, choose Data, Sort, then sort by Need/Want – ascending; Priority – descending; and Cost – ascending. It works out nicely this way in that your blessings are listed first, followed by “done” items, your needs next, wants come third, and dreams (Zzzz) are last. It is also nice because if you have two competing priorities, the least expensive one comes first so that you feel that you are making progress.
How do you prioritize your needs and wants in your family's budget?

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