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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