Chad is being a good sport about my thrift goals and agreed to spend less money at lunch time. We decided that he would try the budget in a baggie method. We set a budget for the month for his lunches ($40), and he puts that cash amount in a baggie at the beginning of each month. Then he uses this cash from the baggie to buy his lunches.
He can stretch that budget by coming home for lunch, taking leftovers, or using his manly coupon saving book. So far he has actually had money left over at the end of the month. I think he has found some loopholes, but I am proud of him for caring more about our family finances than his image.
I know there are all kinds of fancy computer programs and phone apps to keep track of your expenditures and help you balance your budget, but those just don’t do it for me. We both like the budget in a baggie because it is easy to monitor where you are with your money. Sure, Chad is a grown man and could use checks, debit cards, and credit cards, but we both recognize that it is easier to go over budget when you don’t see the cash actually leaving your wallet. And this way takes no data entry or adding up receipts. You either have cash in your baggie or you don’t.
I know some people that use envelopes with cash for all of their expenditures. That is admirable, but it wouldn’t work for us. I do believe credit cards, debit cards, checks, etc. still have a place– especially for fixed budget amounts, large expenditures, and once a month expenses. I do prefer the cash method for
those categories that you have a lot of control over
areas that are more wants than needs
or areas you often go over budget with
Next I want to try the budget in a baggie method with our date nights and family entertainment. The kids could see how expensive a movie and popcorn really is, and we just might have to go on more hikes.
And speaking of budgeting, I gave the kids a summer activity budget and they got to choose how to spend it. Normally I would just sign them up for whatever activities I felt like. They would not have any idea how much camps, sports, dance, or lessons cost. But this summer they had to be a little thrifty too and make some choices.
I gave Elle and Crew $100 each and Croft got $75. I do think older kids may need more money than younger ones.
I sat down with Elle and we discussed her interests, wants and budget. She decided she has a love for dance, so she spent her budget on an advanced dance class that meets once a week. She also wanted to go for 2 weeks of tennis lessons. Her total came to $108. She owes me $8.
Crew is still debating between one basketball camp that would eat up his whole budget or 2 smaller sports camps. This is good for him to have to think about what his priorities are. And I am learning restraint as I resist the urge to just jump in and pay for it all.
Like Elle, Croft spent some of her money on a weekly dance class, but she is saving some for neighborhood day camps that might pop up.
The option is there to do more activities if they can pay for them themselves. There are plenty of opportunities for them to earn money around the house and from grandma. And if they aren’t willing to work for something, maybe it isn’t really that important to them in the first place?
The hardest part of this process was setting the initial budget. I wanted to stretch them and get them to think but still give them opportunities. You chose the amount according to your family’s needs and budget and goals.