And these are the envelopes. The envelopes comes with several for putting money in but there are also sheets to help you keep track of other things you might not want to put in an envelope, like rent or utilities. Our envelope headings are:
- Clothing/Cleaning (as in dry cleaning)
- Hair Care
- Cosmetics (so I can keep covering up the 'stache)
- Youth (this is because we go to youth events that I have to use money to pay for myself)
The other sheets are:
- Car Care
You can use whatever budget groups that are right for you and your spending. We also budget Josh's seminary but we have a separate checking account for that (and for my sewing) so we don't use envelopes for it.
When deciding what items needed to be in our budget and how much we needed to spend on them we had to really get serious. We were either going to do this and do it right or not do it at all. Our first big decision was to rent a small apartment and not buy a home. This was tough because I had a house in Fayetteville and have the furnishings for a home so it wasn't easy to downsize. We knew though it was something we needed to do. We also made a few other cuts in order to help us pay our debt. For one we chose to do without the internet and cable. I never in my life thought I would give up either of those in my home. It's crazy how getting motivated to save money will change your way of thinking.
We also cut our eating out budget WAY down. In fact we only get $50 a month to eat out together. I confess that we had really slacked off for a while but we are back at it. That's not really a lot of money when you think about it. I should say that it doesn't include our Saturday morning breakfasts. Those are in a separate budget category. :) Although those are about to be cut out as well.
We have a very small clothing allowance which forces us to save it up in order for one of us to get something we need, not things we just want.
Josh and I each get monthly "blow" money to spend on whatever we want but even this is only a small part of our budget. We actually only get $20 each a month. That's all! Some months that's easy but other months it seems impossible. We've to slacked in this too so we're cracking down now.
By cutting back a lot we've been able to pay off our debt, maintain our initial emergency fund, and still buy everything we need and a few things we want. Any extra money from our budget went towards the car or dental bills. And when we received money as gifts (not all but some) or tax refunds or by selling something we put it on debt. Our goal was to get things paid off and it was worth it to spend our extra money on doing so. It was tough at times but PTL we did it.
Now that our car is paid off any extra money we have will go into savings to help when I'm on maternity leave. Once I'm back at work we'll start saving for a car so when the time comes, Lord willing, we'll be able to use cash.
Like I've said many times I'm not perfect when it comes to managing money. In fact I've been kind of lousy at it. But right now, in this season of my life, I'm so thankful that Josh and I have already been doing this. I feel the Lord is really asking us to have a LOT of faith right now as we are preparing for a new baby. It's hard for me to give up control of money but its all His anyway. And selfishly I want to be good stewards of what He gives us so maybe He'll want to give us more. :)