DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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13 January 2010

Simple Living Series - Managing your money

Most people hate budgeting.  I did too.  I used to think that making up a budget would put restrictions on me and I didn't like the sound of that.  But when we did up our first budget, I was surprised that instead of feeling restricted, I felt liberated.  I knew we had money put aside for our bills and what I had in my purse and in the bank was available for spending.  Soon after we started working to our budget, I stopped thinking about having money to spend, I was more concerned with not spending.  I wanted to get off the consumers' bus and make my own way.  I saw more value then in buying needs instead of wants and I still feel that way.


Before I write about how Hanno and I budget, I'd like to first write about money in general.  Please remember that living simply is not about being miserable.  It's the opposite of that.  It is giving yourself the time and the opportunity to find happiness and to build it deep within your life.  I like the idea of sacrifice, I liked the idea of having to give up things to help me get started.  Giving up the things I'd always had was like a line in the sand for me; a definite point when I could say: THIS is me now, I am not a mindless shopper, now I buy things for a purpose.  Those who have been reading here for a while will know I'm talking about giving up British Country Living.  LOL!  It's such a little thing but I loved that magazine, still do!  I no longer buy it because that was my line in the sand - that was the point when my new life began. If I bought it again it would be a step backwards for me, a betrayal of my beliefs.  In many ways it's my guage of authenticity.  But that is me and you are a different kettle of fish. If you are struggling with your money, if you're in debt or saving for a deposit for a home, I have no doubt you too will have to give up things you love to reach your goals.  However, if you are debt free and have more than enough money to live on your sacrifices will be more symbolic than practical, but significant and important just the same.

Most people know what they earn but very few can tell you, with accuracy, how much they spend each week.  To work that out for yourself, you need to track your money.  This is a real eye-opener.  Get yourself a little notebook and pencil and take it with you every time you go out.  EVERY TIME  you spend something, write it and the price down in your notebook.  If you buy an apple, groceries, a cup of coffee, a magazine - whatever, write it down.  If you cheat on this, you're cheating yourself so please be accurate so you gain a genuine understanding of where your money is going.  You'll have a bit of an idea after a week, after a month your spending patterns will start to emerge.  Who knew that having a cup of coffee five days a week would cost you about $750 a year.  That's an extra mortgage payment.  Tracking your money will clearly show you that all those tiny amounts add up to a lot of wasted chances to be debt-free.  I'm not saying that you give up all your pleasures, but there are sacrifices to be made, you decide what you will sacrifice.  And always keep in mind your long term goals - to be debt-free, to be able to work if and when you feel like it, to travel, to help your children, or whatever your goals are. 

When you sit down to do your budget, this money tracking notebook will be important.  If you can't stretch your budget to cover what you need it to, go to your notebook and see what you can give up to pay your bills.  Don't just look at the single price of anything, judge it instead by the price, multiplied by the number of times you will buy it in a month or a year.  Along with Country Living, we gave up a few other things and pay TV which was then costing us about $80 a month - $960 a year.  We've never missed it.

You all know I'm not a financial adviser, all I can tell you is how Hanno and I work out our budget and how me make it work for us.  There are many other ways of doing this, but this is all I have experience with.  When we first started, we got all our bills from the previous year so we had a good idea of what we spent on fixed bills like electricity, phone, internet, land rates, insurance etc.  Our budget is a monthly budget because we usually do our grocery shopping once a month.  So for our insurances - health, car, house etc, all of which are paid yearly, we divided each bill by 12 so we had a monthly amount.  We did that with all our fixed bills - the electricity bill was quarterly so we divided that by four to give us a monthly amount.  When we had worked out a monthly amount for every fixed bill we had to pay, we added all of them up to give us a monthly amount that we had to have in the bank to pay those fixed bills.  For us that was around $800.  Then we had to work out our cash spending for things like groceries, fuel, medical and medication costs and pocket money.  For us that was around $650.  So we knew we needed $1450 every month just to cover our every day costs ($363 a week).  If you want a weekly budget, divide your yearly amounts by 52, or 26 for fortnightly.

We have a bank account where we transfer $800 a month for our fixed bills and we withdraw $650 in cash.  That cash money is then divided up into ziplock bags labelled "groceries", "animal food", "garden and postage", "fuel", "medical", "bulk food" etc.  If you want to use this kind of system, which is very easy and efficient, label your bags for the things you spend your cash on.  So with  your cash bagged up and the fixed bill money sitting in the bank, when your bills come in, you know you have the money there to pay and it takes the worry out of wondering if you'll be able to pay the bills.

Hanno and I have $50 each a month for pocket money that we can use however we like.

When we go out to do the grocery shopping, we take the money from that bag, and from the gardening bag if we need gardening supplies, or the animal food bag if we buy their food, and when we return with our supplies and the receipts, we put back the change into the bags in case it's needed again during the month.  Don't leave it in your pocket or purse. We often have money left over in the bags at the end of the month, that money is put into our holiday fund or if we're not saving for anything, it just goes into the bank.  When we have a sum large enough, Hanno transfers it to our ING online account, which gives a higher interest than we would get at our local bank.

Even though I used to think budgeting was a real horror, I now see it as a necessity and a bit of a game.  You can do things like trying to reduce your grocery bill each month or decluttering your home and selling things on ebay or at a garage sale.  That money can be used to pay off debt or go into your general savings.  I guess my message here is don't let money control you. You take control and you will not regret it.  Stop thinking "poor me", be proactive and deal with what you have in the most effective way you can.  We all have to take responsibility for our own decisions, either now or down the track a bit.  If you've been spending like a drunken sailor, giving no thought to your long term future, now is the time to stop, think about the life you want  to live and start making the sacrifices that will make it happen.  I'm here to tell you it's not half as bad as you think it will be, and the rewards, oh my, the rewards of sacrifice and budgeting are wonderful.

Please feel free to add how you manage your money.  Sharing what you do may well be the one thing that helps someone else.

Tomorrow we'll talk about paying off credit cards, change jars, emergency funds and various ways to reduce your household costs.

48 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I am struggling with managing my money and just starting to try to work out some sort of budget. I love the baggie system you suggested. I'll definitely be trying that, and following along with the rest of your budgeting advice.

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  2. Oh Rhonda i loved this post and i sincerely hope lots of your visitors benefit from it. When my partner and i came together and bought land, built our first home i too began a budget I bought a Ledger and used it in its traditional form and carried it over for the full length of the 21 years we lived there. We had/have 3 children, 2 of whom remember this ledger and 1 of whom has a similar routine herself these days. When each book was full and it did take a couple of years to fill one, i would staple the next one to it. It became quite large and we joked about the necessity to keep ALL of them, however i just did...but you know i am sorry now as when we sold that home about 5 years ago i threw it out...ouch...i wish my youngest had had the opportunity to witness this too. I do budget now, but simply ...and in my mind...i am not really an impulse spender unless i am in the thrift store and see a little gem..a great post Rhonda and some good sound knowledge to pass on..Oh and i take my hat off to you to pass up that beautiful magazine..sweet day :)

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  3. Hi Rhonda,
    Thanks for sharing your budgeting system. I tend not to use cash much, our eftpos account kind of works the same, the only amount in there is enough to buy groceries and pay the bills for the fortnight, so we can't overspend.

    This is how we keep our budget. We do all our budgeting in Excel because I love nothing more than mucking around with a spreadsheet! We've been keeping a budget now for about 5 years and I track all of our actual spending (every cent) in Excel also to compare with our budget. It is very motivating to look back over the last 5 years and to actually see the progress that we've made. And there are still little surprises regarding our spending habits.

    Rather than break our annual expenses down to monthly amounts, I put them under the month that they're due (so no surprises), and work out an average that I need to be saving towards those expeneses. This goes into our high interest account, but again I track what is in that account in Excel - not necessary, but I like to make sure I've saved enough for each expense.

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  4. Great suggestions there. I'm a little concerned that you are advertising the fact that you have $650 in cash lying around your house every month. Perhaps you should be a bit more guarded with certain subjects, just in case an opportunist is reading your blog. Don't feel that you have to publish this comment either. Kindest regards, Tig. x

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  5. Good morning Rhonda and thanks for this post, it's a weak area of mine.

    In the spirit of sharing:I started using a little change purse at the weekly produce markets because it was difficult to juggle shopping bags and wallet. Of course I put in only what I intended to spend and no debit card as the producers don't take EFTPOS. Bingo! I was spending less and less each week.

    Now I carry the purse each day separate from my debit card. It makes me think twice before using the card.

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  6. Great post - I think the family budget is of great concern to most people! I just have one comment about your magazine - can you get it from your local library? I find the library where I am to be a never ending source of new release books and magazines. For 60c I can reserve mags that are just out in the shops. Fantastic! and great for the budget - some libraries don't even have the reservation fee. I understand that the Gold Coast library doesn't, not sure about any others. Cheers Wendy

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  7. Here in the Uk....i use money saving tins to put my loose coins and left over cash in. They only have a slot to put money in and you have to use a tin opener to get the money out. Stops me from raiding my savings every time i'm tempted and it's amazing how quickly those pennies and pounds add up to a sizeable amount which i put towards taking my kids on holiday once a year.

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  8. You have to consider the difference between money and value. Knitting my own scarf means I have to get the wool and the time to knit. I could work one hour and buy a scarf, or work a few minutes for the money of the wool, then 'work' several hours knitting and create it myself.

    It would be more economical for me to buy one. But I prefer to do the knitting, because 1) I like hand-made things, I consider them true luxury and 2) work creates stress, so I prefer to minimize it and 3) knitting reduces stress, so I like doing that.

    Makes sense that way, right?

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  9. Hi Rhonda

    Your advice is always so sound and helpful!

    I think I have a little square tin very similar to the one in your photo. Mine is yellow and has children playing in a different season on each side. The top has a coin slot. The bottom says "Bankland 1960, Golden Valley, MN" I think it is a 1960, there is a scratch through the 6. I use it all the time for my left over change.

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  10. Yet another great post today. I love budgeting it has freed me beyond anything I can imagine. I dont have stress over money anymore. I am on a small income as a single mum and budgeting has allowed me to have ALL bills paid up and many in front. I am terrible with cash...there I admit my weakness!! lol So I limit the cash I have with me. I have a designated fee free grocery account, I have individual bills accounts with an online bank and I have a small enevelope system for weekly expenses such as art class (I homeschool) and petrol. I find many of my friends struggling with money, and they often ask how I manage my money. They never seem to try it though.
    I guess the bigges thurdle with budgeting is the first step....at least it was for me.

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  11. I have been budgeting in this way for over 20 yrs now. Works like a charm.

    I just use different spots in my purse for different money. I have grocery money, gas money, and my allowance put in it. All in their own zippered compartments.

    At the end of the month I use a bank envelope for my end month run. Which is for toilet paper, cleaners, and personal items.

    Looking forward to your next article.
    ---Krystal

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  12. I really needed to hear the part about sacrifice! I could do without some of the things I buy, especially when one day I would like to own my own home. I will never get there with my attitude towards money! Thank you for opening my eyes.

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  13. Thank you so much for this, Rhonda. I'm rather snowed under with medical bills and trying very hard to be wise in spending and saving and paying off bills. I'm going to start keeping track of my spending just like you said. Thank you. :-)

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  14. I recommend starting an "Emergency Fund." Here in the U.S. the financial advisor Dave Ramsey suggests starting out trying to save $1000 for emergencies, then working your way up to having 3 - 6 months of expenses in your emergency fund. That way, when something unexpected happens, you can deal with it without totally blowing your budget.

    Our emergency fund has helped us put new tires on our car, replace a major household appliance and pay for emergency care for one of our beloved dogs, without us having to lie awake at night wondering how we were going to pay for those things or take on debt to pay for them.

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  15. I'm so glad that you put a post on about budgeting. I have looked at other blogs regarding this subject and they just don't make sense to me. You are very logical and good at explaining things - thank you, can't wait for the next step!

    And I so agree with you, living simple does set you free, it is not a life of misery and going without. Since we have been trying to live a more simple life and cut back on things that are not necessary, we have more time to spend on the truly important things in life.

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  16. We track our money & budget to a zero balance each pay day ie we tell our money what it is going to do.

    When we began our frugal lifestyle we put our children on it too. They get given pocket money (they do chores) and a clothing budget. Plus they were told that is it - there is no more money available. It has been the BESt thing ever. DS has gone busking to earn extra money for a new guitar, today he wanted more $$ as he was low due to a big useful purchase - for $4.00 he cleaned so he could get $$ to hire an x box game.
    DD likes label clothing - she budgets well & buys in sales - has a few label clothes to go out in & changes into around home clothes when home. I have no stress of buying clothes for teens.

    For their music lessons I pay into their account each week the fee - they see how much it costs & has to draw out the amount each term & give to their tutor.

    Both understand money & both are learning the power of compound interest. We have also told them they have to pay for uni so are salting away money for this time in their life & both want to get higher education without the debt. Saving is a big part of their budget.

    Teaching the next generation money skills is soo important.
    Love Leanne

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  17. Great post. Personally, I don't hate budgeting, I LOVE budgetting! When I was 18, my dad showed me a simple (handwritten) ledger system and now at 40-1/2 I am using essentially the same system.

    I do the same as you do with my fixed expenses, but for the variable expenses I divide them into columns (food, household, etc.) in my ledger and then I record everything I spend. I used to have to do it weekly, but now I have a good enough sense of what I've spent that I record expenses monthly. I don't use the cash in the baggie system because I enjoy the game of underspending in one column so I can raid it when I overspend in another. This allows me to take advantage of stocking up sales and expenses that vary from month to month. After about 6months, I become "overdrawn" in a few columns and I bail myself out from the general "large item" column to give myself a clean slate. My large item column has enough slush to accomodate it. If money is too tight, I only do a partial bail-out and I make myself conserve until the columns are back in the black. It's a game, and one that I enjoy. My husband and I also have about $50/month that we can do with whatever we please. I save most of mine for big stuff, he spends most of his on lattes, and we're both happy.

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  18. This past weekend our truck died and to fix it was more than the value of the truck.We did not want another bill by taking out a car loan at a high interest rate.But we did take out a small loan from my husbands company at only 4% interest.
    After talking things over we realized we don't really need a truck for many reasons but we did need something for my husband to drive to work.We bought a used Vespa motor scooter.We will be saving $50 in parking costs, $100 is gas and $50 on our insurance.If we minus the loan payment we will be ahead by $140.We are so happy with ourselves for stepping back and thinking carefully.
    Another step in our favor!
    Rois

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  19. Great post with lots of useful information. I'll come back and reread it often!

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  20. Love the system and wish I could do that. We have our own business and never know how much we will bring in each week. If you could share some of your wonderful wisdom to include people in our situation, it would highly be appreciated.

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  21. Rhonda I am so glad I discovered your blog. I am making it a point this year to save so I can give my daughter a wedding in the fall. I already love some of your tips like the magazine subscription. I have several that are coming due and honestly, how many do I actually need? I will never be able to make all the things I want to so I really need to become proactive and selective.

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  22. Hi Rhonda,

    Thank you for your post. I have been reading your blog for several weeks now, and I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to really share your way of life. You are very inspiring. I am a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three children in the US, and over the past year, we have been making slow, but steady changes towards a simpler way of life. I find myself looking forward to the little bit of encouragement and such smart, practical advice from you each day.

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  23. Thanks Rhonda -have just caught up on your recent posts & love the wisdom & common sense in them. My goal is to move (a sea change) & give up work so your posts are a great help to me as you have already made your change & can share so much ! Blessings to you !
    Jeni

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  24. I loved the idea of using ziplocs instead of envelopes. Great idea!

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  25. wow, I love the ziplock baggie idea, and your willingess to share with us what you have learned through trial and tribulations. I am going to seriously look into this, I have two bills I pay yearly and split them up monthly too, but why not do that with everything! Thanks so much.

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  26. Thank you for the great post. My husband and I are young and, for lack of a better word, dumb when it comes to budgeting our money. Because we don't have much of it, we have really been forced to budget and be creative with our finances. I really appreciate your advice and will be checking in tomorrow!

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  27. I actually really like having a budget as well, although I use mine a bit differently, I think.

    I don't usually bother with cash, and instead keep a spreadsheet. On it, I have how much I expect to spend in a month, broken down into my fixed and my variable expenses. I've worked out about how much a month I should be spending on each, so I have all of those listed on one sheet - rent, utilities, food, clothes, education, and a bit to play with. I used accurate amounts for fixed, and decided on reasonable numbers for the variable costs. When I spend something I write it down, and then record how much I have left to spend in that category, so I always know where I am.

    I find this works for me for a few reasons. First, it's a challenge. If I know how much I can spend, I usually try hard to stay under that amount so I can put more into savings. Second, it's flexible enough that if I go over on one category, I can compensate by cutting back in others. For instance, this month my passport renewal was much more than my usual travel amount, so I cut back a bit in education to cover it (I used to break these kind of things down over their lifespan, but five years became a bit much, and I'd rather account for the cost at once and be done with it). By cutting back in other areas, I can still stay on budget for the month.

    All in all, this works well for me. They is remembering to write it down. It's here that I can see the advantages of cash, but as long as I hold onto receipts and check statements, I don't have a problem.

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  28. im on my 4th week of budgeting. so far i have loved it but yesterday i was feeling a little withdraw from spending. im so used to impulse buying i almost fell off the band wagon yesterday. but i stopped myself and i feel very proud today that kept to my budget and my goal for my family - to live simply and debt free. thank you for your inspiration!

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  29. Thankyou so much Rhonda for this post and to all the other comments I have just read through. My New Years word is WORTHWHILE. I want to make what we do worthwhile and money is so much a part of this. I don't want another year to go by filled with worries about money and bills and I certainly don't want to get to the end of the year and look at how wasteful I have been with what I have been given. My husband and I are also self employed and I understand Paula how difficult it can be with knowing what the income will be. But my only advice in this area so far that I know works is if you are honest you will see that some weeks/months have plenty of income and others have far less. Our old attitude was to feel like millionaires on the good months and not save any of that surplus for the quieter months. Maybe that could be your starting point as it has been ours. Many thanks again Rhonda for sharing.

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  30. We do budget, but I love the idea of putting the different monies into different baggies -- what a great idea! That's one I haven't seen before on any site or book I've read. Thanks for the tip :)

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  31. Rhonda,

    Great Post! We had to much fun during the holiday season and we are now paying for it...

    We are going to start off the New Year with the baggie system. We have to put a lot toward debt..house,debt from credit card (small amount), car payment...how did you deal with these things when you had them? Did most of your money go towards debt or savings? Did you still give yourselves spending money? Should we still be saving while paying off debt? Help!

    What should we do if there is just enough money for housing and food needs ...but not enough money for fun?

    Thanks for your time....

    Renee

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  32. Very helpful post today Rhonda! I used to hate budgeting too, but it is necessary, especially since we want to pay off.
    We budgeted out hydro, groceries, internet, gas, water, insurance, mortgage, and phone. That money stays in the bank, and if there is any left over from groceries, it goes into our savings, which is a real insentive for me to see if I can make do with less!
    I get $100 a month- $50 goes to house prjects that I need done such as paint, the kitchen floor, whatever is on the list. The other $50 I divide up:
    $10- savings
    $10- spending
    $20- appliances fund
    $10- to DH Christmas present which I need to save up for all year
    It works out wonderfully, and I'm so glad we worked out our money! It really is liberating, just like you said. Now I know how much I have, and I double check every need/want to see if I really should buy it or save for it. Great post!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

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  33. Thanks Rhonda, it's always really intersting to read how you and others manage money!

    I've never had much money, so have always had to practice 'going without'. But I've never managed it very well... I remember reading a post you wrote months (years??) ago about budgeting, and I made myself a monthly budget.

    I get paid fortnightly, so I budget with 2 wage cheques a month, and occasionally get a spare one :) I take out £50 a week in cash, put £25 to food, £15 to 'unnecessary' spending (charity shop finds, cups of tea with friends, occasional lunch or meal out), £5 to emergency, and £5 to the garden.

    I sewed little cheery pouches out of colourful fabric that I knew I'd enjoy using :)

    I find I often have food money left over, and that gets put aside, either to save up for something like visiting family, or into a holiday or savings fund.

    For now, I'm just trying to stick to the budget, rather than trying to save up lots. I'm doing well, and have been for months, so will start trying to save a proper emergency fund

    Whoever said budgeting is freeing was right! It's so liberating knowing you have money for things, and knowing when to stop as there's nothing left in that little purse!

    Looking forward to the rest of the simple living series

    xx

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  34. Thanks for this post :)
    I actually enjoy budgeting... It must be in my genes (my dad's an accountant) :)

    I do a lot of my expense and month-to-month bill planning in excel like at least one other person that commented said so too. We also keep an emergency fund in a credit union CD. Touchable if we really need it, but accumulating interest and safe if we don't.

    Another good tool that I use is mint.com. Some people may not be comfortable with their $ info on a website, but I've been using it for over a year without problems. It doesn't actually save any of your bank account #'s. And, it's free!
    It tracks your spending and even has a great budgeting tool that lets you keep up with less frequent bills and unexpected expenses.

    Just thought I'd share :)

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  35. Rhonda,
    Thanks for your post. I do a similar way but I leave the money in the bank and in my check register I have things broken down for what I need to save for. All of our bills are monthly except for our car tags or Christmas so I divide how much will be due when by how many weeks until it's due. And I save that out every week.
    We homeschool so I have a school fund, I also have a medical fund (for co-pays, etc), house pmt fund, savings fund, etc... and out of each weekly direct deposited check I allot money into each fund. I total the amt and anything left over is what we can spend. I find it's easier to save out $3 a week for something instead of trying to come up with $100 on short notice.
    If I charge something I write it in my register and then transfer money to the card when I'm at the bank the next time. I don't do checks or atms.
    Each time I withdraw I make sure my balance is the same on the receipt.
    It's worked great for us for about 10 years and now my daughter does the same.
    Also, instead of spending extra money from holiday pay or OT, I save the extra that is above the usual weekly amt. You can't imagine how fast that adds up!
    Thanks for your site and all your information!

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  36. Another good post. I've been doing as much as possible in cash and paying the rest by debit card--no checks. I like the see-thru ziplock bags! Great idea! I've also seen patterns to make cloth "Dave Ramsey" envelope system bags--a great frugal way to use up fabric or out-of-style or out-grown clothes, too!

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  37. Thanks Rhonda, I got a great deal out of this post today - I think your blog is wonderful!

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  38. Hi All, Just wanted to say that if you are a couple, you need to budget pocket money for each of you. My parents say it saved their marriage as Mum is a money control freak. They budgeted an amount equivalent to a new pair of jeans a fortnight and adjusted the actual $ amount accordingly. The important thing is that the other person can't control how you spend that money. My husband and I have separate personal accounts. He transfers the bulk of his pay to the general account each fortnight, and leaves himself his pocket money. I have a direct debit to my account to pay me my pocket money as my wages go into the general account. When I want to buy something, I use the credit card and then transfer the balance immediately from my savings account. Most bills get paid by direct debit or an automatic transfer on payday. Then what's left is discretionary. Oh, and I have an automatic payment to my son's account every week to pay for shoes, holiday care, school uniforms and birthday presents. Any money I get back form the government goes straight in there.
    Anna
    PS I love budgeting!

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  39. Hi
    Thought I'd add that you can set up automatic B-Pay through internet banking. So, I've worked out what all my bills are (electricity, council rates, water, gas, telephone etc) that can be paid by B-Pay cost on a fortnightly basis and then set up on my internet banking so that the fortnightly amount gets paid as soon as my husband is paid every fortnight. Therefore, when the bill comes in it has already been paid :)

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  40. Wow I think your plan is rather ingenius. I have trouble handling our money since it seems every month there is a new surprise, this breaks or that, we get sick etc. I think I am going to try out your system. Thanks for sharing ... and BTW I love your informative blog and forum!

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  41. I enjoy budgeting and working out numbers, saving for things. It was something instilled in me by my mother at a very young age. However. . . this is an area that causes much strife between my husband and I. He cannot budget to save his life and if we work together to create one, he will always take the money from one bag for something else and then not put it back and before you know it, we are on the slippery slope back into financial chaos.

    Until recently, I just felt annoyed and did nothing to fix this. Now, however, I've decided to start saving money on my own. I am a writer, so I get paid into a PayPal account. I plan to transfer a set amount each month into the bank where we can withdraw for food, diapers, etc. and the remainder will be transferred to another Paypal account or left where it is, depending on expenses that I need to pay online each month. It seems a bit unwieldy, but at this point, I really think it's the only way we are ever going to get ahead!

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  42. Wow Rhonda, the notes you have in Australia are so colorful! They look great! :)

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  43. Just a word for Paula: you might not know how much comes in week to week, but your tax things will tell you what your income was last year, and you can work out realistic weekly amounts from that.

    Secondly: This is a different take on money, but I worked out what big expenses we were likely to have over the next 40 years and we are putting money aside for them into an ethical share fund. This money is for things like a new car, braces for the kids, that sort of thing. But we are ahead of a lot of readers in terms of our finances.

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  44. In my search for suggestions how to live a simple life, i came across your posts. I love them! I just love them. They're useful and fun to read.

    I also enjoyed the "Kitchen Sink"-posts very much.

    Kind regards and a huge Thank You!

    Monique, The Netherlands

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  45. Thank you for this post Rhonda. It makes so much more sense the way you have it worded. In our household we struggle with balancing our budget, mainly because we do not agree. I have come to the realization that to make the budget work better I need to forecast in great detail so that my DH can see the savings accumulate and then maybe he will be motivated to stick to the budget. Food planning is another big one for us. If he makes a quick stop at the grocery it usually costs us almost the same as the weekly budget allowance. Any tips for getting a reluctant budgeter on board?

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  46. I have always been frugal and great with money, but when we started a written budget it really made a big difference in our life. We've done this for a year now and paid off a car and several small credit cards (cut and tossed). And I second the personal money suggestion. Without your mad money you are pretty much setting yourself up for failure. Budgeting works! Do it!

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  47. I sure wish I could get my husband to work on a budget. I've asked for years but he just wont do it. I can see how it would benefit us a lot! I have always been frugal myself but just finally gave up on the notion of doing this.
    Anyway I did want to tell you just how much I am enjoying your blog!!!

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