Guest post from Kathy of Kathy Hutto:
I know about the lean years that Crystal talks about — I’ve had times when budgeting was an absolute necessity.
Like Crystal, I’ve tried to continue a philosophy of frugality, even now that times are better. I’ve tried to adhere to a strict budget. In fact, I have a penny taped to the dashboard in my car as a constant reminder to “watch every penny”!
Throughout the years, I’ve tried lots of different strategies for budgeting. I’ve tried the Excel spreadsheet idea, the envelopes with cash method, and the notebook with pockets system. But, what I’ve found most effective for my family is a modified envelope system.
Our Modified Cash Envelope System:
I write the name of each budget item on the outside on an envelope. For example – Food, Gas, Recreation, etc. I do not load the envelopes with cash, but instead I assign a dollar amount to each category (you can write the amount on the envelope, if you’d like… I just keep up with it in my head.)
Here’s how it works:
Throughout the week, I put the receipts from trips to the grocery store, Farmer’s Market, or restaurant visits in the Food envelope. I’m ever mindful of how the receipts are totaling up. In fact, throughout the week, I’m known to take the receipts out and add them up to see what’s left for the week.
This modified envelope system can be especially effective right now with our Christmas gift budgets. I have an envelope labeled “Christmas” and a certain dollar amount budgeted for that category.
When I purchase something from a store, I put the receipt into the envelope. When I order online, I print the receipt and add it to the envelope.
I’m ever mindful of how much I’ve spent, and though I use my debit card, the receipts are accounted for and this helps me to keep a close eye on my spending.
I hope this gives you yet another idea for staying on budget!
And since I mentioned my “Food” category above, I thought I’d share my simple Winter Budget Menu booklet that I created for my family. Enjoy!
Kathy Hutto is a homeschooling mother of two. She also serves as the Preschool Ministry Coordinator for her church. In her “free” time, she writes curricula and other resources for teachers. You can find her blogging at Kathy Hutto.