Ok! It's our first Money Matters Monday and we are talking "Envelope System!"
Back in July of 2010, my husband and I were beginning to realize that our "cushion" (aka - the balance of money in our checking that is still there after everything is paid for each month) was dwindling as each month passed. We had a budget that we followed and every dollar we spent was tracked in a very detailed spreadsheet, so how was it possible that our "cushion" was starting to disappear?
It's pretty simple. It happened because we'd let it.
I think our main problem, and maybe you can relate, was our "miscellaneous" column. If we ever had a month with few miscellaneous needs (tires, gifts, dry cleaning, etc), we would abuse it and put some of our fast food or restaurant spending there. Technically, it was covered by our budget, so we didn't feel like it was dangerous. But the problem is...just because we didn't need tires in April didn't mean we'd never need them. By spending our "miscellaneous" category dry every month, there was nothing to help when extra expenses bombarded us. The months when tires, oil changes, wedding gifts and health check-ups all hit at the same time were destroying our budget. And frankly, it was terrifying to me. It became completely obvious that we were not honoring God with our finances when not-tithing became the easiest solution in the difficult months.
Something had to change.
I had read about the "Envelope System" but thought it was for Crazy-Frugals who had no life. I wasn't willing to be that person. I like my fun life! We eat out. We travel. We clothe our son in some handsome duds. I didn't want that to change! And I certainly didn't want to have to grab 4 different envelopes before heading out to do a few errands! No, thank you!
However, I also like paying my bills and having a sweet credit score. I wasn't sure that we had an option as I was not about to let money become an issue for us. We have the incomes that should be able to sustain the lifestyle we enjoy. So, we bit the bullet and went for it almost a year ago.
And I don't think we'll ever go back.
Next week, I'll explain how we got started with the envelopes and I'll plead the case for why I think everyone I care about should at least consider it for their families.