Staying in budget can be SO hard, but now that you’re living a Zero Sum Lifestyle (every penny that comes in goes to something, even if that something is savings or investing), it’s incredibly important because a single penny overspent could mean bank fees and bounced checks!
Enter The Envelope System.
Twice each month, when we do our budget on payday, we allocate money to our envelopes.
In our family, we have the following categories:
Food: $200-$250/pay period: This is grocery store visits, but does not include Dining Out.
House: $100/month: These are “non-consumables”. I’m talkin’ diapers, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towel… please don’t be eating any of that stuff 😉
Blow: $50/month for the Hubby and I, each: Starbucks. Manicures. Make-up. Drinks with Friends. Fantasy Football sign-ups. You don’t have to justify where this money goes! It’s a sanity saver.
Kid Activities: $20/month, though I’ve found I haven’t been needing it since Christmas: Kids don’t really need much to be happy, but if they *needed* new crayons, it would come from here. If I wanted to take them out for ice cream, it would come from here.
Gas: $180/pay period to be split between our cars: We actually leave our Gas budget in our bank account so I don’t have to leave the kids outside while I run in to pay, but I keep the receipt tucked in a safe place in my car so I know how much I have left to spend before our next pay period. Sometimes, I even write “$X left until 2/10” as a safety measure.
Dining Out: $20/week for the Hubby: He gets $5 a day. Period. If he’s running low on funds for one reason or another (working OT so he has more meals to buy, or realizing it’s a 5 week month, or he has training and has no where to store or heat up leftovers), he gives me a heads up and I plan my menu around making sure I can send him with food. If he takes food some days, he can save his money for a nicer meal than Taco Bell (Chipotle, anyone?).
Dave Ramsey sells his own Envelope System, but I’ve found a solution that’s a) cheaper, and b) more durable.
Get thee to Target’s Dollar Spot and find one of the small coupon files! I opted for pink because I knew I could find it in my diaper bag/purse quickly, and well, I like pink.
Here is my well-loved (over 2 years old!) Envelope System:
Now, how on EARTH do you stretch the money in your envelopes??
Come back tomorrow to learn about the intricacies of the Food and House Budgets!
In the meantime, check out the other posts in this series: