I’m slowly coming out of my denial that moving to a cash system is the step we need to take to really get a grip on a budget that we control. Particularly in light of our most recent tenants vacating that thorn in our side our rental home, it is vital that every dollar we spend is purposeful and intentional. It’s very easy to whip out that debit card and figure out later what category any over spending will come from (for us, that means our debt-repayment category). With cash, when it’s gone, it’s gone.
All I can say is, Baby Steps, people.
I’m starting out small — just four envelopes: Food; Clothing; Gifts; and yes, Booze.
(I’m just trying to be realistic.)
And no, those colorful envelopes you see (way) above are not mine — the blah, hand-labeled ones are. I don’t need anything fancy. (Not to mention that a little color might make them too attractive for little hands.) If pretty envelopes would help motivate you, though, then by all means, knock yourself out. Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs offers a fabulous, free tutorial on how to make some gorgeous envelopes, if you’re crafty like that — and yes, they’re specifically for cash. Paying with cash is a whole movement out there, people!
Next Month I Will Have an Entertainment Envelope It’s already clear that I should have budgeted some cash for entertainment. That is one category that we haven’t been using in awhile — any entertainment spending has just come from our separate “blow money”.
But with The Hubs now gone, I can already see that I need to designate some cash for the kids and me to go and have some fun. Nothing extravagant, mind you. But we can’t just sit around the house and twiddle our thumbs (or pull out my hair) the whole time he’s away.
…And Some Blow Money For Me I also didn’t budget any blow money for me this month. I have no idea why. I really think I just forgot: my mind was all muddled and focused on trying to figure out how much to send with The Hubs. We ultimately decided on $200 for him — yes, I hope that lasts him well past January. But mainly, I really wanted to feel like he had enough while he was traveling and initially getting settled on the other end. And he’s on board with trying to make the transition to cash and not using the debit card for every little cup of coffee.
Some Quirk$ of a Deployment We’re also not clear on how many meals he may eventually be paying for out of pocket while he’s deployed. Yes, they feed those guys over there. But his job will likely involve some travel; however, his orders didn’t include a per diem. He brought that up with Finance before he left, but wasn’t able to get it resolved. Ultimately, anything he has to pay for out-of-pocket that’s job-related should be reimbursed. But in the meantime it’s, uh, out-of-pocket.
If I worried about every little muddled affair the military threw at us, I’d be cuckoo by now. Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow.
It’s not a complete accident that I’m starting this cash system while The Hubs is deployed. I’m hoping that by the time he gets back, I’ll have my cash-paying groove down and it’ll be that much easier to help him get on the envelope bandwagon: planning ahead for purchases before you leave the house; remembering to put the change back in the appropriate envelope when you get home; etc.
Any advice out there?
Because it’s really not that easy, truly, for someone who’s used to just reaching for a debit card. I’m a perfect walking example of that.
I’ve been keeping track of every little purchase that was not on the initial budget for January. I’m thinking of posting a tally tomorrow of what’s “come up” so far this month, which ultimately will change what we’ll be able to pay down on the debt snowball. The whoop$ are not insignificant.
But the idea is that, maybe six months from now, I can look back and see how far we’ve come on creating and sticking to a household budget. At least, that’s the idea. Wish us luck.
Oh, and don’t forget: Baby Steps, people.