We have been on a budget for over 20 years. We’ve actually been on a cash budget for most of that time. We set financial goals when we got married and it’s been so delightful to walk through it. I’m not saying things have always been “fun”, because sometimes life happens, but…but…we’ve had a plan and we’ve stuck with it.
When our boys were 7, 4, and 1, I would attend two consignment sales a year. There would be one in the fall and one in the spring. I would sell their clothes and then buy their clothes. All in all I would spend about $200 a year buying their clothes. We have kissed those days good-bye.
Two of our guys are in the men’s department now. The men’s department. Mercy. Those are big boy clothes with big boy prices. In order for us to stay on our cash budget we have to get pretty creative, but we still manage to make it work each season. [Read more…]
(This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.)
You know what I LOVE? Shopping online. I can save so much time and money. How do I save time and money? I’m so glad you asked:
-I don’t impulse buy. Hello dollar aisle at some of my favorite stores.
-My children don’t ask and ask and ask for extra things.
-I can often buy last year’s model at a discounted rate, like my running shoes.
-I can use online coupon codes.
We have been on a budget since we were dating. Our dating budget was $30 a week, which ironically is more than we budget now for dating. Those early days taught us that “dating” didn’t necessarily mean an expensive dinner and a movie. We learned the value of sitting beside each other in a coffee shop or bookstore. We learned how much fun it is to exercise together or play a board game or clean house together. Okay, just kidding on the cleaning house thing, but you get the general idea. In our early days, we learned to think outside the box.
Over the years, many people have influenced and shaped our view of finances: our grandparents, our parents, and our mentors in the ministry. They have spoken truth over us and we are grateful. You know who else has been a valuable resource? Our frugal and thrifty friends. Learning from and being sharpened by friends truly is a great blessing in this life. Don’t believe me?? Check out my friends below. They have some GREAT ideas!
My grandmother is precious. Anytime I go to her house she will tell me there’s food in the fridge if I’m hungry. I always, out of tradition, look in the pantry and fridge. While I’m looking she will give me a running list of what’s in the fridge: a piece of chicken, some leftover roast, mashed potatoes, some green beans, a little bit of salad, and, without fail, she will tell me there is a tablespoon of something…slaw, corn, congealed salad, etc. A tablespoon. She will save the smallest amount of food. Now, she can stretch a dollar. I think her blood runs through my veins…even though I usually don’t save a tablespoon of anything. [Read more…]
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When was the last time you held a crisp $100 bill in your hand? The other day I ran to one of my favorite consignment stores just needing a fresh look for spring. I found two items of clothing that I kind of liked. You know what I’m talking about? They were okay. They would do in a pinch. After all, I was out, I tried on 54 articles of clothing, and I wasn’t about to walk out empty handed. I headed to the cash register to make my purchase and do you know what was in my clothing budget?? A brand new, crisp $100 bill. I looked at the clothes. I looked at the crisp, brand new $100 bill. I looked back at the clothes. I looked at the $100 bill. And then I did it. I walked over and returned the clothes, that I didn’t really like, back to the rack. I just couldn’t break the $100. In the end the clothes weren’t really worth it to me. Had I had a debit card, or worse…a credit card, in my hand I never would have thought twice about it. I left that store empty handed, but still smiling at myself. All of this happened because of a cash budget.
I must first tell you that this is not my original idea. Our budget is based on the teachings of Dave Ramsey. We started reading his book and listening to him when we first got married. His principles, along with a few other wise voices, have shaped our financial views.
If you are not using cash for your budget, I’d like to give you FIVE simple reasons why you should start TODAY:
1. It hurts to spend cash.
Just like I mentioned above, spending cash will be felt. You will hold the bill in your hand and decide if the item is REALLY worth it. I’ve been at the grocery store before and taken items off the belt because I just didn’t want to spend the money. No one went hungry. The things that were taken off were just impulse buys…things that weren’t on my list. I know I’m not alone in buying things that aren’t on my list, right?!?
2. When you spend cash you can keep tabs on your money easier.
If someone asks your family to go grab a bite of lunch after church and you have a $5 bill in the “eating out” section, you will quickly know that your family can not participate. There’s no back and forth between you and your husband about how much is in that line item or, worse, how much is in your account. You immediately know, with one glance. So Simple.
3. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
If there’s an opportunity for a date night and you’ve already spent it, you will not go out to dinner. This is okay. You will not die. Instead you can choose to do something free like going on a walk together, playing tennis, or cleaning out a closet. There are all sorts of free things to do to spend time together. If the money in a certain category is gone, it’s gone.
4. It helps prevent arguments.
The presence of cash, or lack there of, does not lie. If there is no entertainment money, you don’t go to the movie. If there is no allowance, you don’t get that special treat. But what about telling our children no?!? It’s okay to tell children no. In fact, it’s good for them to hear the word no. It’s also good to explain to them that mom and dad live on a budget and we, as a family, are trying to be the best stewards of the resources God has placed in our care. These are good, healthy conversations to have.
5. It keeps everyone on the same page.
At the beginning of every month, we sit down and talk about the month. We look over things that we know will come up. We look over categories that have savings in them. We discuss our finances. We look at short term goals. We look at long term goals. We marvel at God’s provision for bringing us through another month. It’s good to sit down and talk about money. It’s good for everything to be out in the open. It’s just healthier that way.
Of course, cash doesn’t work for all our monthly expenses. For example, I don’t carry around cash for our mortgage or our car insurance. Here’s how we pay for various categories in our budget:
We use cash envelopes to pay for groceries, eating out, haircuts, cosmetics, entertainment, laundry services, clothing, and monthly allowances for the kids (and misc. spending money for the grownups). I have a separate envelope for each one of these categories.
I use this envelope for our cash. By clicking on this link, you too can have your very own envelope for your budget.
Each month, we “deposit” a specified amount of money into “accounts” that we track on paper (Really, we track these accounts on a spreadsheet. Well, Fred does most of the tracking. He’s admittedly nerdy that way.). Some of these accounts represent expenses that we pay only once a year, and some of them represent inconsistent expenses that crop up throughout the year. Here are our short-term savings “accounts”:
Taxes (If your ministry/job/lottery winning doesn’t withhold taxes, you need to anticipate and save for these taxes yourself. Taxes, like death, are realities. Prepare for both.). Also, we save monthly for annual gym fees, summer camps/activities, school supplies (I can not begin to tell you how much we spend on these in August!), household repairs, car repairs, car savings (We try to pay cash for cars.), sports fees, vacation, Christmas (It comes the same time every year!), birthday gifts, car tags, and property taxes.
We have the following expenses scheduled monthly for automatic draft with our bank (Technology is beautiful, isn’t it?):
Utilities, house payment, internet, term life insurance (for both of us), car insurance, homeowners insurance and cell phone.
Some things, you still have to do the old fashioned way:
Tithes (to our church) and school lunches
We use our debit card to purchase gasoline and gifts (which comes out of the savings line item mentioned above).
Our checkbook is pretty simple. At any given moment I can tell you where we stand financially. We are both happy and at peace with our financial decisions. And those clothes I returned to the rack?!? I have no regrets.
What about you? Are you on a budget? Do you use cash? I’d love to hear your story or offer you encouragement. Just shoot me a message, comment on this post, or better yet, share it and start a discussion about budgeting. It’s the new cool, people!
The other day I was in Academy Sports buying shoes for my boys, which seems to be my part time job. As we were walking out I saw a popular, name brand cooler sitting on the shelf. Do you know how much it was?!? $365! By the time you pay taxes that will be a $400 cooler. $400. As I was walking away two thoughts were running through my mind:
- When have we, as a society, become so focused on the temperature of our beverages and food in the wild that we would drop that much coin to ensure its consistency?
- $400!!! What good could come from that money if it wasn’t spend on a cooler?!?
I would like to point out that I realize that not all people think $400 is a big deal and that, in certain scenarios, owning a $400 cooler may be important. This article may not apply to you if you fall into either of these categories:
- You make a sizable income, have no debt, and have plenty of discretionary money.
- You live in the woods for weeks at a time without human contact. (I’m not talking about overnight camping here, friends.)
Now, having said that, you may be thinking, “Well, I have a high dollar cooler. Now, she’s just going to make me feel guilty.” Nope. If you spent a lot of money on a cooler, we are still friends. I love you, just because you are reading this blog. A cooler will never come between me and a friend. Far from it. If you already own an expensive cooler, consider the tips below before spending a similar amount on another purchase.
With that out of the way, I would like to offer a few ideas of what could be done with $400 instead of spending it on a cooler (or whatever your next $400 purchase happens to be). Are you ready?
Take a weekend trip with your spouse or family.
Spend the money making memories that will last for a lifetime. If you need a cooler for this trip buy the $40 variety. They are perfectly adequate. You can buy a lot of ice for the difference in price.
Do you have an emergency fund? $400 would be a good start. Remember the story in the Bible of the man who built his house on the sand and the man who built his house upon the rock? It rained on both of them.
Pay extra on your house. (If you have a house payment.)
Pay extra on your car payment. (If you have one.)
Hire your children to do jobs around your house. (and then save the money for them)
Pay them with the money. Did you know that when they are 12, you can invest money for/with them. Money invested in a growth stock mutual fund at 12 will be a chuck of change when they are 70.
Sponsor a child.
We sponsor a child, with Fred’s siblings, through One Child Matters, but there are many other great organizations. With a little over $400, you could give a child in an impoverished country food and medical care for a year.
Put extra in college funds.
Save for Christmas.
It comes at the same time every year. Don’t be caught off guard!
Help a single mom or widow.
Money is tight for some people. Take them a sack of groceries. Pay some (or all!) of their utility bill. You can call your local utility company and pay toward anyone’s bill.
Give to someone who is adopting.
Make bags to pass out to the homeless.
Fill Ziploc bags with small containers of shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a $5 gift card to a local restaurant. You can also write a personal note to put in the bag. Get your children involved. Fill them up together, and let the kids pass them out your car window. You never know the impact this simple act could have on both the person receiving the bag and your child.
Pay off debt. (If you have it.)
Support a missionary.
These are just a few ideas that came to my mind while I was standing there staring at that cooler. You may have others to add. What’s my point? Is it to make people feel guilty? No. Is it to shame people? No. My point is that we need to stop and think before we make a purchase, whether it be a cooler or anything else. We call it intentional living. You may not be looking at a pricey cooler, but perhaps there’s some other pricey thing calling your name.
Ask yourself three questions before making a purchase:
- Is this the best use of the resources God has given me?
- Will I be able to use this for God’s glory?
- Will I still be satisfied with this in a year?
If the answer is honestly yes too all three of these questions, then you should buy it. If you have hesitation on any of the above questions, just take a deep breath. Possibly you should walk away and take a day to pray. Intentional living. Spending less. Giving more. It really is possible.
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