What is TBL?

This Budget Life was created for singles, couples and families looking to get just a little more information about all things budgeting. From how to save money to changing your spending habits to showing you some serious money hacks…we hope to give you our proven budgeting system and ALLL the neat little tips and tricks to help you along the way. The biggest takeaway that we want you to have is that you don’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle to budget the crap out of your money and live the life you want! Our goal is to show you that you and your family can live this budget life too! 

Behind TBL

Oh hey! Hello there! My name is Ariel Lastella and I am the writer and content creator behind This Budget Life. I am an excel spreadsheet budgeting nerd, a type A, seriously calculated yet weirdly spontaneous risk taker, and I love running numbers for funsies. My hubby’s name is Dave and together, we have been serial budgeters for the past 10 years experiencing all the ups and downs of life during our journey. We have a 5 year old daughter and 2 pups in tow now too! As a budgeting family, we are living life bigger and better than we could have ever thought possible! 

Our Budgeting Journey

What made us start This Budget Life?… and what gives us the authority to teach you our ways?

In a single month—everything changed. Dunkin Donuts literally changed our lives and the way we viewed our finances forever.


No, for real, I’m dead serious. In 2013, I got an offer for my first full time job after finishing college at a Fortune 500 company. In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that much money but it was almost $20k more per year overnight compared to my previous contracting job. Honestly, it was barely enough to live off in NJ… but it felt like big money to me at the time and I was excited to say the least! Hubs and I (before we were officially hubs and I) decided to celebrate big time…we put $1k down on an $8000 motorcycle and immediately put ourselves in a $7000 hole. You guys…the dealership let me use my offer letter to qualify for the loan…I didn’t even know that was a thing! THIS was how we decided to celebrate. We had a series of events that I’ll spare you the details on, but we ended up moving into my dad’s house in hopes we could save up faster for our next big adventure. You guessed it…a house!…the all American dream, right? Our views about money were backwards and that mentality continued for a while….

We started off month 1 of our house saving journey with such excitement of the potential savings. I mean, we were bringing in 2 incomes and had basically no real monthly expenses except that motorcycle. We ended up that very same month with only PENNIES added to our account. This went on for 2 whole months.  As much planning in my head as I did, I couldn’t understand why the numbers just weren’t adding up in real life. We had a “what the actual f*ck” moment.
I did 1 simple thing for month 3 I tracked our spending. We didn’t change habits, or daily routines. And guess what…I learned that in 1 month we had spent over $480 at Dunkin Donuts alone!!! Looking at all that money wasted on coffee and bagels, Dunkin Donuts was literally the thing that changed our lives forever….and it had. to. go.
From that month forward, we tracked every penny, changed our daily habits and opted for other changes in our life that didn’t mean sacrificing our overall happiness. We tracked every penny in my budgeting spreadsheet (yes! the same kind of spreadsheet we use today just way less fancy back then!). In a matter of months we did what we thought was impossible…..we paid off $8,000 of our debt including that motorcycle and saved up another $20,000 in less than 9 months. We were able to buy our first home together shortly after! 
Because of the stuff we put in place in the early days like our family budgeting and money managing system, we were able to not only purchase our first home together, but we were able to renovate it by investing about $50k of our own cash into it. We took on ZERO debt to do it. We had our baby girl shortly after and easily made the decision to become a 1 income household after she was born. Keeping our way of life in mind, we made the decision to up and leave our home state and move south. This was our big life move! I ran spreadsheet after financial spreadsheet laying out the income vs. expenses for every scenario of our move…for literally 2 full years. We finally made the move in 2018 and haven’t looked back! (I told you I like running numbers for funsies!) We were willing to make these changes for more- more money in our pockets and just more life together as a family.
Sometimes I can’t believe the life we created for ourselves even since then. And believe me when I say i don’t make bookoo bucks to make this all happen either. Our life isn’t one of those stories that tells you about a couple who saved a cool $1 mil in 5 years simply by budgeting….come to find out they were making $500k a year kind of story. Nope! That’s definitely not us.  
My goal of starting This Budget Life is to show all of you out there that anything is possible if you just start putting some numbers to paper (or in excel!). I am a firm believer in awareness of your numbers. It is the first and biggest step in this budgeting game and it is addicting once you start! So just freaking start already! Start small, but start now. I want to show you how to pay down your debt, save some money, and get the ball of living large rolling. We are living proof that our system of budgeting works. We have witnessed it work first hand time and time again. We are also big believers of not changing your lifestyle– just change the way you think about your lifestyle, the way you think about money, your belief about happiness, and the rest will fall into place. Our mission over here at TBL is to lead by example and show you that you and your family can do This Budget Life too!!

We don’t sacrifice our lifestyle by budgeting. In fact, we found that we get more out of life WHEN we budget and pay close attention to our numbers. Financial awareness is freedom. Freedom gives you the choice to make amazing, life changing decisions that impact the next decision and the next decision after that. 

This Is Our Budget Life

Grab your free monthly budget spreadsheet with user guide and a bonus 30% off coupon code for my yearly budget workbook!