Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Money Management Matters
Donnie and I have been struggling to stick to a budget for some time. We’ve tried weekly, monthly, and annual budgeting styles. We’ve tried calculating every last expense, planning for every penny, saving receipts, using multiple bank accounts, using cash envelopes, and just about every other trick in the book. And, for the most part, we’ve failed miserably. We are simply too disorganized to follow a strict budgetary system. Even worse, every time we fail to stick to a written budget plan, we end up giving up almost entirely, at least for a little while.
Finally, however, Donnie and I have developed a money management system that works for us, because it’s so simple. It’s not a budget. It’s just a basic plan for using and saving our income.
First we calculated our approximate monthly expenses, and our approximate monthly income. Then we determined that, each month, we’ll leave the amount of our total monthly expenses, plus a cushion, in our checking account. The rest will go into savings. When we decide to make a major purchase, we’ll comparison shop, wait for a good deal, then take the necessary money out of savings.
I know this probably sounds foolhardy to those who can budget brilliantly, but it’s the only method that actually seems to work for us. Since we don’t shop for fun, rarely get takeout, and don’t spend a lot of money on recreational activities, there’s no danger of us overdrawing our checking account. And we’re still building savings, one month at a time.
The best part is, I no longer lie awake at night, wracked with guilt over failing yet again to keep our budget balanced. I know we’re living within our means, and planning for the future. And it makes me smile.
How do you manage money?