Before I tell you about the “tool” that will help you, I want to share how we recently lost our way in the financial forest. I wish I could claim ignorance as the reason for being lost, but I graduated from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University about 15 years ago, so I definitely know how to stay on track. What happened for us was summer arrived, we were lulled into complacency by it’s warm sunshine and schedule free days. One day after the oldest two were out of school we hit the road (literally), driving nearly 6000 miles on our road trip to visit family in Indiana. We went on vacation and so did our budgeting. Then my husband took me on a marvelous trip to Maui at the beginning of September as a delayed celebration of my 40th birthday. And let me tell you, Maui was exquisite, stunning scenery, delectable foods, amazing adventures and we came home with empty wallets and an empty “emergency” fund, because, obviously, having fun in Maui was a dire emergency. We were home about one week before the inevitable money fight between husband and wife began. Because let’s face it, money fights do not exist when there is abundant money being used wisely, they happen when money is exiting the building like it’s on fire.
Fortunately, my husband and I are seasoned money fight people and quickly knew that a sit down, let’s reign it all in and make a plan meeting was in order. Our meeting was Sunday afternoon, we gingerly navigated through the “where did you spend that extra money” and “why didn’t we pay that off” questions. But relief came once our budgeted spending amounts were decided upon jointly and we were once again telling our money where to go instead of chasing after it. So is that the most important tool? The budget? Well, yes, technically…….but my favorite aspect of budgeting is cash envelopes. These things are a piece of art. They make the budget work, without them the budget is nothing more than scrap paper. Because when you look and see that you spent $2,125.29 on groceries in August you begin to feel the air around you get thin, your fingers start to tingle and your heart beats a pace you’ve never known, not even after Shaun T kicks your butt in an Insanity workout. How? How did we eat over two thousand dollars of food? Food rations for the children starts to cross your mind. We feel the need to raise chickens and have a cow in our suburban back yard. But honestly, we already knew that we can feed our family of six on $300 per week, but we were winging it all summer, buying what we wanted, when we wanted it without a care in the world, nor a plan. This is where the most important tool, in my humble opinion, comes into play. Put that $300 in an envelope and that’s all you have for groceries for the week, so guess how wisely you start to shop? Yep, you are instantly grounded and paying attention to those weekly grocery ads you usually delete out of your email. You suddenly say no to the Costco cheesecake and dark chocolate covered blueberries.
The budget is first, it is king, it is the kind, yet firm ruler of the coinage. However, those blessed envelopes make all the difference and are my sense of peace when lost in the financial forest. I can rest in the fact that we will find the path out if we are faithful in using cash. In wrapping this up, here are my words of wisdom, first if you haven’t had the immense pleasure of discovering Dave Ramsey, do it…..do it now. Second, put those budgeted cash categories into envelopes, it’s an amazing feeling to know you are following your plan to financial freedom. Third, my gift to you is a lovely cash envelope template. I used to pay a pretty penny for pre-made envelopes, which seemed counterintuitive, and the plain mailing envelopes were too simple for me, I needed the register. I made this template, Cash Envelopes, so I could print my own envelopes any time I wanted very inexpensively and use cute paper, because after all, we have four girly girls in this house, we have cute paper everywhere. Enjoy it, use it, share it. And I wish you abundance in your financial journey.
Click here for template: Cash Envelopes