Sticking to a Budget

Because I suck at doing it.  But so far, 2 weeks in, I haven’t broken it yet!  Which, sadly, is a success over previous years.

So far I think the best “trick” that’s worked for me is setting up different “accounts” within my bank account (all under the same number) and labeling them based on what their sum is used for.  Previously the “Envelop System” that everyone (myself included) loves just wasn’t working for things like MOST of our bills: recurring, electronic bills.  And I got flustered, confused, and frustrated so I’d give up when something would go through that threw off my budget.

Not this year!  We’ve been over on one or two hindsight expenses, but I’m not letting that deter me.  I’ll use the “extra” money I made teaching this month and keep chugging.  Noted and adapt for next month.

4 Strategies to STICK TO A BUDGET & Pay off Debt

Divvy & Label It

For banking purposes, we created more “savings” accounts, but renamed them to “Emergency Fund” “Gifts/ Memberships” “Long-Term Savings” (which we use to hold 6-month auto insurance payment outs & preschool funds so we can save monthly but pay in full).  Then anything over $1k in our Emergency Fund account is used toward paying off debt.  We have $125 budgeted in, but if I make any money teaching one month, that would also go towards the debt (or any overages, like this month).

Then our actual “Checking” account holds enough funds to pay all of our monthly bills with a little padding ($100-500) to cover any oversight on our part and to make me feel less anxious about overdraft fees.  I note how much *padding* I have sitting in here so we don’t end up spending it by accident.

Visualize It

*BONUS* I made a little graphic of our budget breakdown to use as the background on my cell phone so I would constantly be reminded to keep saving, stay on budget, and stay on track.  I want that $40K of student loans paid off.  But more importantly, I want it paid off so we can start saving for our daughters’ private school education.  I want to give them the same education opportunity that I had.

Yes, we are using the Dave Ramsey’s envelop system and Snowball Pay-Off-Debt system — because they work!  I know they work based on how I used to save and pay-off when I had simpler bills.  It’s the long-term consistency that I struggle with.

Auto-Transfer

So I’ve set up Auto-Transfers within our bank to take our auto deposit and disperse it into the necessary accounts once a month.  I have it set to expire after this December’s deposits so I can review the year and see how we did.  Big stress relief here that I don’t have to remember to sign in and transfer the funds myself, not to mention remember the exact amounts for each designated category.

Cash Envelopes

Yes, we do still use cash envelopes for the day-to-day: Groceries and fun money.  We keep our gas money in the Checking account because paying at the pump is quicker and easier, and we fill up 35 gallons at Kroger with fuel points so it saves on the math…  Plus I can categorize transactions through my bank accounts so I can check if we are still under or over budget for the month by simply clicking “transportation.”

I’m ALL OPEN to more suggestions if you have them.  Please send them ALL my way by writing them in the comments below.  Thanks for reading & sharing!
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