Today’s post is going to be a little bit different than usual. Not about exercise or physical health, but about money. WHAT?!
But hang with me, because I know that stressing over finances can have huge impacts on health, and I am ALL ABOUT being whole healthy, not just sort of healthy.
Today I’m going to share with you how making this one little change to our budget that nearly doubled our savings … in (drumroll please), less than 4 months! On a super modest income mind you (my husband works as a motion graphics artist for a non-profit ministry).
As in, we met our emergency fund, our family savings goal, and had almost enough for a house downpayment.
(Please Note: I don’t share this story to brag at all, but to offer hope no matter your income, class, or background.)
Back to the story …
Our philosophy has always been to spend responsibly, carefully, and wisely, always researching to get the best deal we can find.
We loosely tracked our expenses, but when our income fluctuated with job changes and home businesses, sometimes it was less stressful to just not look at our finances. And declare a spending freeze.
But that’s not what actually got us ahead. In fact, that is what got us to the point of feeling like we had no hope for ever having enough to buy our own home and with no end in sight.
The secret sauce that found us in a better situation than we could have hoped, especially so quickly, is … weekly budgeting.
Here’s how it works
At the beginning of each week, I set up our bank account to automatically transfer money from our family checking to my (Angela’s) checking account. (More on why we have over 15 accounts later)
For our family of 5, we decided to budget for $100 per person per month for consumables. When I say, “consumables,” I mean anything that is used in the house such as TP, laundry detergent, toothpaste, cat food, and of course groceries. So grocery really covers more than just food in this category. For our family, that came to $500 per month or $125 per week for groceries.
On top of that, we set aside another $50 per week ($200 per month) for “other expenses.” That includes clothing, family outings, eating out (the hubs and I split up this expense with his budget as well), homeschool expenses, and other fun stuff if there’s money left over.
So, for our family of 5, it all comes to $175 per week. Some months have more weeks, some have less. So Instead of coming up short some months, we decided to go ahead and allocate $175 per week every Friday regardless. Which brings the grand total to about $758 per month instead of $700 per month.
I set up an automatic transferral through my bank so that Every Friday, $175 goes into my account.
One way to track what you have spent is to put all receipts in an envelope and keep a running total on the outside of the envelope as you go. That’s how I started out.
Now I still keep each month’s receipts in an envelope but Chris set me up with a Google sheets spreadsheet so I can just enter in my amounts and it keeps track of my running total for me.
So what happens if I go over budget or we have a huge expense that month?
Well, we have separate accounts set up to take care of emergency expenses, so those don’t come out of my monthly spending account.
For other bigger expenses, I try to plan ahead or only buy it if I have money left over from a previous week, since that “extra” money is set aside for me to use later for bigger items.
For example, I really wanted to invest in some new, healthy makeup. (I got rid of my makeup when we moved from a moldy house) So since that’s not super inexpensive, any money I had left over each week I put in my “makeup fund.” Which really just meant it was dumped into our family savings account and I tracked how much I had put in there so I knew what I had available to spend when I finally decided on what to get.
Going over budget really hasn’t been an issue, even with having some weeks where I put in an Azure Standard order to buy in bulk for the month. However, if I really need something and it will put me over, I never borrow from the next week, I always borrow from what I have already saved up from previous weeks where I didn’t use the whole budget.
I honestly wasn’t sure I could stick to this budget for our family when we eat all organic all the time and mostly gluten free. But it has been totally doable. And the happy surprise is that not only has it been enough, but I have been able to set aside money to get fun things I would normally think are frivolous or something I shouldn’t get. Like healthy makeup.
And fun flavors of Glee gum from Sprouts for my kids. Glee Gum. Yum!
And even tickets to a Cirque show for a date with my husband! You betcha!
So, what about you? Are you ready to transform your finances, save more, and also get more fun things? Give the weekly budget a try!
For more simple budgeting strategies that actually work, I highly recommend Budget Boot Camp from Jordan Page at Fun, Cheap, or Free. Her ideas really helped put the fun into our finances and hope in our hearts. So thankful!
If you decide to get the program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know I (Angela Aitken) sent you.* (btw, they have GREAT customer service! I have been super impressed with how quickly Alisha answers my questions)
And as a thank you to YOU for taking time to do that, you can use the coupon code: YOUTUBE for an extra 10% off the program! Woo-hoo!
*I will receive a commission for each referral who mentions my name at no extra cost to you. We received no compensation to use and recommend this program (other than saving huge amounts of money ourselves!). Thanks so much for your support!