Friday, February 17, 2012

All Others Pay Cash

I am awful with cash.  Awful.  Ask Mr. Curly (or my mom) - if I have cash in hand for more than a day, I start looking for a way to spend it.  OR, I try to keep it, and still, at the end of the week, it is gone - $1 here for a parfait, .80 there for a gas station pop refill..... I can fritter away $50 before you can say Bob's your uncle and have no clue where it goes.

Which is why the envelope system of budgeting is so good and yet so dangerous for me.

I've attempted this before.  Mr. Curly gets paid each week, so we do a weekly budget, rather than a monthly budget.  Each week, when I deposit his check, I withhold roughly 65% of what we have budgeted for food and necessities and I go shopping.
I spend the full amount, but have 35% still left to shop with, it is just still in the checking account.  So when we change our meal plan in the middle of the week, no biggie, I still have money left in the budget, I take the old debit card and go shopping. 

Lets say I have $25 left and all we need are hamburger buns.
I get to the store, I get hamburger buns.  But if we need buns, we're having hamburgers, so we should get some lettuce for the burgers, and in seeing the lettuce I see the strawberries.  Strawberries are a great dessert with grilled burgers.  Shortcake and cool whip, obviously, go with strawberries.  As do bananas.  And nilla wafers and vanilla pudding (can you tell yet that I prefer fruit and sugar to all other food types?).  And if I take home strawberries and pudding, Mr. Curly will say "Hey, where's the cottage cheese and doritos?"  So I pick up some of that too.
Next thing you know, I've spent all $25, just to get home and realize we're out of milk (despite the fact that I bought the requiste 5 gallons at the beginning of the week).
Which means I go back to the store where we buy our milk, to, yes, overspend our budget, but we need milk, and there I find ice cream is on sale....

Needless to say, budgeting is hard for me.

But GOOD for me too, so we're trying the cash system again.

A little differently.  Meet, the money box.

This box contains the money the Curly kids earn by helping me with their paper route (and any money Grandad might happen to slip their way), the paper route money (broken down by what we use for fun and what I put in the church offering), and soon, our grocery/necessity  money.

I obviously can't be trusted to just carry around cash.  So the plan is, to take the COMPLETE food/necessity budget out in cash, do the initial shopping, and put the rest in the box.  When we need something midweek, I take the money from the box, and buy ONLY WHAT WE NEED (that will be the hard thing for me).  The extra money, goes back in the box for the next need/week.

I'm sure there will be weeks where we fudge on the budget - where we run out of milk early and need it for pudding, or cake, or the kids just refuse to drink water anymore.  But the plan is to only fudge if it is a true need, not just a craving/want.

Wish me luck.

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