Cash Only.

Oh the adventures of budgeting. Always a joy right?

Yeah. Not so much.

BUT, it is an area that Chris and I have committed to growing in, and we’ve really spent a lot of time talking about it/working on it since we got married over a year ago. We’ve had some great celebrations…paying off my student loan and both of our vehicles…and we are looking forward to celebrating the end of our credit card debt in the very near future. After that all we’ll have left (God willing!) is Chris’ student loans.

You should all be warned that he swears he is going to run naked through the streets when those are paid off. Yikes!

We had both read/studied the “teachings” of Dame Ramsey before we got married, and in the time since we have tried to apply some of his principles. Our emergency fund is set up, and the “debt snowball” principal is what has helped us pay off so many things in a short time. We’ve stopped using credit cards (don’t even get me going about those evil things), and we keep a close eye on everything using online banking. Not too shabby for a couple of newlyweds right?!

After a little encouragement (in the form of an AWESOME spreadsheet and a few words of wisdom) from my cousin K, the husband and I have decided to bump our money management up a notch. It seems that despite our good intentions and best efforts, there are still too many times we have more month than money…too many times we look at our bring-home pay and think “Where did that all go?” It’s not a good feeling, to say the least.

*Enter the spreadsheet*…which is based off of Dave Ramsey principals by the way. 🙂 The new goal is to start giving “every dollar a name,” or allocating it to specific needs/bills within each pay period. After plugging all of our bills and budgeting for groceries, gas, and such in the spreadsheet, the goal is for the final balance to be $0. <No, no. That doesn’t mean we have $0 in the account. It just means that we gave every dollar a name and it is all accounted for. Some of it is given the name of “STAY IN THE ACCOUNT. DO NOT GET SPENT ON FRIVOLOUS WANTS.”>

Taking that a step further is the accountability of using cash versus debit/credit cards. After writing out checks for bills/paying online, we went and withdrew cash for all of our groceries, gas, and the little “extras” we budgeted for. (Extras include my weekly dinner with the girls, date night money, etc.) I then put the allotted amount of money for each item into it’s own envelope. This pay period we have a grocery envelope, gas envelope, date envelope, and dinner envelope. Once an envelope is empty, then that’s all she wrote. There is literally no other money to be withdrawn or charged…we’ve put a freeze on ourselves.

It’s kind of scary.

I’m nervous about making that big Wal-Mart trip that inevitably happens every month…what will I do if I go over the amount of money we have available?

It’s kind of a bummer.

I’m admittedly a little sad that I can’t buy random little things here or there just because they caught my eye.

It’s kind of cramping my teacher style.

Like all teachers, if it’s something I need for school to teach a lesson or help with the management of my classroom, I generally buy it. But with all the cuts that are being made to education, I’ve come to realize that I absolutely can not fill the void or make up the difference.

It’s kind of making me more accountable to my husband.

I’m sad to admit that this isn’t always easy for me. Sometimes I don’t like having to account for every penny I spend…sometimes I don’t like being told not to buy something. It’s ugly, but it’s the truth.

But by the same token…

It’s kind of exciting.

I just keep thinking about how good we are going to feel when there are no more credit card payments. When we are able to build up our savings and our checking account. When we are able to save for the things that we want and bask in the reward of working for what we want. When we can give to the Lord the way our hearts desire. It’s exciting to know that we have the potential, in the very near future, to be the boss of our money…not the other way around.

It’s kind of challenging.

I’m always up for a good challenge. The envelope system is not easy, but it motivates me…and has already kept me in check more than once. That’s what it’s all about.

It’s kind of helping Chris and I continue to merge from two into one.

We are doing lots of talking…and although it’s not always fun or pleasant  it is helping us to break down walls and set new standards for ourselves and our marriage. I’m so glad that we are working on this now instead of later.

It’s kind of changing our life.

Both sets of our parents have talked about how no one ever talked with them about money or management when they were first newlyweds. They had to learn everything by trial and error. Although Chris and I will have <and have had!> plenty of trial and error ourselves, I feel so blessed that we have parents to guide us and resources available to teach us sound financial practices. I pray that we will establish good habits now, because to whom much is given, much is expected.

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So yes. It’s nothing new. It’s just kind of new to us. 🙂

What about you friends? Do you have any fab budgeting tips to share? I’m always looking to learn something from others in life…so share the love and leave me a comment!

KEEP CALM AND BUDGET ON!

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