Money. Here's the thing, if you looked at our checking account, savings, retirement (what retirement?), you would probably not think we are good with money. BUT, we have never fought about money. In our 5-year marriage, I cannot recall a single time we have fought about money. The only debt we have is our mortgage and student loans. Yes, we'd love to have no debt, but we feel good that we don't have any of what financial people refer to as "bad debt" such as credit card debt.
And we are really good at being "poor". There's an episode of Raising Hope (love that show!) where the family is teaching another family how to be poor. They have all their little tricks like eating produce while shopping so they don't have to pay for it and entertaining themselves by playing balloon volleyball in their living room on a Friday night. It's quite funny, but Chris and I relate because we have figured this living-on-a-small-income thing out pretty well. We have all our little tricks and tips.
So while I don't claim at all to be some sort of money expert, I am good at living on little and keeping my marriage money-sane. Therefore, I share a few ideas with you in hopes something might help you.
Frugal Living: Cash Family
Today, I want to talk about cash. We are a cash family. I cannot even tell you how helpful this is in sticking with a budget. At the beginning of each month, we head to the bank and remove all of our cash for the month. (There have been times we've taken half the cash at the beginning of the month and half midway through the month and if that's what you have to do until you have things better situated, do it!) That cash goes into envelopes. Each envelope is labeled with a budget category such as Clothing or Food or Entertainment.
So when we sat down with our budget, we figured out what categories we'd need to leave in the bank. These are things like bills that automatically come out of your account each month or that you're going to pay through your account. So we leave our Utilities money, our Mortgage money, etc. in the bank.
Everything else is CASH. This makes you stick to your budget! Once the Food envelope is empty, that's it. So you keep track and when there are 2 weeks left of the month and only a little cash left in that envelope, you start scrimping and using everything in your pantry that you can!
They say there's something psychological about it, too. It's easier for us to swipe a plastic card over and over and not really realize that money is leaving every time we do that. When we actually hand over the cash at Target, we are made more aware of what we're doing.
I'd really urge you to try this system if you are not already doing it. Of course, the first step would be making a budget, if you don't already have one. Then, become a cash family!
Are you a cash family? How does it work for you? Do you recommend it?
See Frugal Living: Fun Money