Monday, August 3, 2009

I may need to rethink this...

So, many of you know, because my sister is a big fat bloghead, and she spilled the beans, that we are going to go the cash system for a few months. Of course, she wasn't excited about that, she was excited about the possibility of a trip to Europe. She is also 45 years old today, and I would like to tell her happy birthday. So, there you go. Happy birthday Dawn!

Anyhoo, we're going with the cash system in a Dave Ramsey-ish style without ever actually cracking a single Dave Ramsey book or taking a single Dave Ramsey class. I have read a few Dave Ramsey columns, so I'm pretty sure I'm an expert now. Here's the deal...Any time change comes my way, or change is a brewin', I start feeling out of control. I start feeling the need to get a grasp on something I can control absolutely. And that usually turns out to be our finances. Now, I think we do a pretty good job financially, we have only a car debt and a house payment. However, I know that there are areas where we are wasteful (Dave Ramsey would have told us to pay cash for the car... Told you I'm an expert!)

When we moved to Oklahoma I made a giant spreadsheet budget with Studmuffin's help. I'm not one to generate a spreadsheet. I tend to write endless figures on scratch papers and never get any of them to match up, and then freak out because no matter what I do, it doesn't add up. So, he will swoop in, create a spread sheet, then walk away. Then I will spend the next week agonizing over it, and trying to get as exact a number as possible in every category of expense, then drag him back over to look at it, where he will agree that it looks about right. Of course, he doesn't pay the bills. And he doesn't look at our budget on Quicken Online, or even our bank statement. He doesn't even know how to do any of that. But, he can create a mean spreadsheet people! So, we created a spreadsheet, developed a budget, and no matter how I scrimped, saved and scavenged spare change off of the sidewalk, we could not stay out of the red. Of course, at that time, we were supporting 2 households, one in Texas and one in Oklahoma, and I wasn't working, so really balancing the budget was nigh impossible. Don't you love the word nigh? Try it in your everyday conversation. People will look at you funny, but I'm sure it is with a sense of awe at your vocabulary!

Well, now that I'm being faced with the possibility of another move, I'm getting stressed, so of course I'm freaking out about money. So, we mutually decided to go to the cash system. Here's how it works: We sat down and generated a sum that we felt we spend each month in certain areas like groceries, clothing, dining, home maintenance etc. Then, we discussed how much we should actually spend. Remember, I already do tracking of our finances, but I think that seeing the green pass through my hands will have an impact on what I spend where. Then, last week I went and got the cash, bought a coupon organizer and labeled the various areas, then divided up the money. We decided to do our spending on a monthly basis. For example, we won't need as much money later on for clothes as we do for back to school. Plus, once school starts babysitting expenses will change. Of course, we will be endlessly sending money to school for field trips, lunches, fundraisers, etc. So, I'm keeping a list for each month of how much we spend in each area. Oh! And here's a big rule! No robbing from one envelope to cover overspending in another. You will never get it all balanced out that way! Another great thing about this, is it will curb impulse buying. Obviously we won't carry all of that money around. I only have with me what I plan to spend. Of course, I still have a debit card, so if an emergency arises I can use it. However, if it's not an emergency, and I don't have the cash on hand, and it's not in the budget, I can't buy it. Can't you see the beauty of this system already? I know I'm weird, but for some reason knowing where every nickel and dime went gets my giddy....

Today was the first test. I had to go with Studmuffin to the orthopedist about his shoulder. There is a grocery store, Target, and Rack Room Shoes nearby. I had seen where shoes were buy one get one half off. The girls both need shoes for school. Also, I needed groceries. Of course, the dad gum shoe store wasn't open until 10, and we got out of the doctor's at 9:15. I made the terrible, terrible decision to go into Target to kill some time. $85 later I walked out of Target with one swimsuit, 2 scooters (the skirts, not the toys) and 7 shirts. Now, we had budgeted money for back to school clothes. However, I had originally planned on getting them at the outlet mall in Hillsboro on our way to New Braunfels. Woops.

Okay. The shoe store was finally open. Well, we had already told the girls they could pick out 2 pairs of shoes each. One pair of athletic shoes and one pair of fun shoes. They each left with one pair of Nikes and one pair of Converse. Now, many of you may think I could just get them shoes at Walmart, Target, Payless, whatever. Well, my kids both have really skinny feet. I have a hard time finding shoes narrow enough for them, and cheap shoes are for some reason much wider than name brand, and they fall apart twice as fast. Popcorn got a pair of shoes at Payless last spring because she outgrew her old Nikes. They are already falling apart, and she wore them for the end of school and then only maybe five times this summer. Plus, they were only $10 cheaper than Nikes. That equals a big fat waste of money in my mind! So, $104 later we have shoes for school.

And now I only have $10 left in their clothing budget for the rest of the month.


Well, so much for buying clothes on our way to New Braunfels.

Plus, since I'm creating my own system here, I'm not sure how vacation works. Obviously we will spend more than the normal monthly budget on dining because we won't be home. I think we will just use our debit card like we would have in the past, and not stress about that part.

Well, if that isn't enough info to make your brain tired, I don't know what is!


Dawn said...

oops, sorry to spill the beans! And the new back to school outfits look adorable!

Dawn said...

And I'm pretty sure this Texas thing is just a trip--not a move. Did I tell you I have the gift of prophecy :)

Marilyn said...

Don't forget to pack your lunch and lots of cheese and peanut butter. That will help with the eating out thing. When is Dawn going to Europe?