My Summer 2015 Budget

Early this summer, I sat down with my planner and set a weekly and monthly budget based on my expenses and income. I had never done this before, and really didn't know if I needed to. I was not in debt and didn't have issues with spending or saving. But having an actual plan and goal is important in every area of life, so I decided to see if my spending habits could benefit from a planned budget!

I knew I wanted to be more intentional about my money and where it was going, but I wrote down some other reasons for this budget as well...

...Be able to give to special missions projects
...Save for a newer vehicle
...Start an emergency fund
...Plan for upcoming trips and vacations

With these goals in mind, I wrote down my income and expenses and decided on the different categories I needed to budget for. Food, gas, miscellaneous expenses, even coffee got its own category. :) Yup, that is a necessity!

After I had a plan for budgeting down on paper, I decided to make it work for me by using the envelope system. I am a bit of an over-achiever, so of course I had to make some cute cloth envelopes out of fabric scraps for each of my categories.

Now each week when I deposit my paycheck, I also withdraw the correct amount of money for each envelope. And then I do my best to stick to it!

Here are tips that made this system work for me:

1. As a Christian, I believe it is important to take out tithe first and give at least 10% of my income to the Lord. The Bible talks about giving God of our first-fruits. This has to happen FIRST so it doesn't get pushed to the back burner, or forgotten entirely! Each week when I deposit my paycheck, I take out at least 10% based on the total I deposited that day, and drop it in the offering Sunday. This system makes the most sense to me and guarantees that I don't forget to tithe!

Is tithing always easy? No. There have absolutely been times when money has been tight and tithing has been hard. But the truth is, God will bless your obedience to His commands, so we can't afford NOT to tithe! By having a system in place for even my tithe, it guarantees that I don't slip in this important area.

2. Give yourself grace. Do I go over sometimes? Absolutely. My budget is planned for regular expenses, so when special things come up - family visiting, trips to the beach, etc - those expenses don't fit into the budget. But that's ok! Because I'm careful to plan in my regular expenses, that leaves extra to use in these special occasions.

3. Make it FUN! Use a fun wallet or make cute envelopes like I did. Do you enjoy finding deals? Now is your time to shine! Have fun seeing how much bang you can get for your buck! Get some other people involved and keep each other accountable - maybe even swap coupons. Whatever will help you enjoy budgeting, instead of seeing it as "restricting," go for it!

4. Prepare to be surprised and blessed. Sometimes I have things I need to get that I am sure will take me over my budget. I even plan how I am going to come up with a few extra dollars to cover the cost. Then I think, well I'm going over my budget anyway, might as well splurge on gelato. (Just being honest here! You do that too, right?) But I do my best to get things on sale, curb my gelato-sweet-tooth and buy only what is necessary - and am shocked to get to the counter and come away UNDER budget! That is such an exciting feeling!

I am excited to continue using my budget and the envelope system and see how it continues to help me save. Its great to have goals and a plan in place, and to see myself reach those goals!

Have you ever used the envelope system? How does budgeting help you keep control of your finances?

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  1. I've never used the envelope system. I love your cute enveloped, though!

    1. Thanks! I had never tried it either but decided to see how it worked for me. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  2. I have used the envelope system at different points in my life with great success I might add. Loving your handcrafted envelopes.

  3. Larry Burkett was the first person I heard to introduce the envelope system. Dave Ramsey actually has a purse with the "envelopes" built in. I have one and love it. I've been using the system since the girls were little. I am a visual person so it makes all the difference for me. And, if I "borrow from Peter to pay Paul" I make an IOU to myself. I love the system... Your Aunt Judy taught me to have a "blow" account. Money that is not designated for anything special... you can blow it on gelato if you want. It's guilt free when you use it. Keep up the good work. You'll never be sorry. Love, Aunt Susan

    1. I hadn't thought about the IOUs...good idea! I did start with a "blow" account, but then decided I wanted to try and save even more so I cut it. Maybe I should re-incorporate that! Thanks for the good thoughts!

  4. I've never used the envelope system but it just may be a saving method I may need to consider. Good tips.

    1. Let me know what you think! There is certainly nothing to lose by trying. Good luck! :)

  5. I have found that our money actually seems to stretch further when we are obedient and tithe. It was a very hard thing to start doing 5 years ago when we first got saved and started going to church, and we would often just throw in a $20 or whatever we felt we could afford. But once we made the commitment to honor God first with our income, not only have we had enough, but we have had more than enough. Thank your for including that!

    1. This thrills my heart! You are so right and I am so glad you have come to understand this truth! We don't tithe from our excess, but out of obedience. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!

  6. I love how cute these envelopes are. I don't have enough to do the envelope system but I am definitely thinking about it when we are better off.

    1. I hope you will give it a try, even with the smallest amount! You might be surprised. I don't have a whole lot of expenses, but I broke my envelopes down into even tiny categories like food, misc. expenses, etc. Having a certain amount of money - even a small amount - in an envelope and knowing, "this is what I have to spend on food this week" is a help and encourages me to use that money very wisely!


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