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How to Make a Family Budget Using the “Envelope System”

How to Make a Family Budget Using the “Envelope System”

Committing to a budget can be difficult as you adopt new habits of tracking and balancing to ensure you stay in control of your money. But at the end of the day, adding and subtracting numbers in a spreadsheet doesn’t give you much accountability for your spending habits. This is where the envelope system can become valuable. The envelope system basically consists of using envelopes and cash to divvy out your spending. Each envelope contains an allotted sum of cash assigned to a specific expense. Once the cash is used up, then you’re prevented from spending more money on that specific expense. Essentially, the envelope system helps you from overspending in certain areas, and it can be a useful tool for tracking and sticking to your family budget. Here are some tips for adopting the envelope system. Determine your actual expenses Use your previous months’ bank statement to paint an accurate picture of how much you spend in each area, like groceries, gas, eating out, etc. Using your total discretionary income, subtract each expense from the total monthly income to make sure you’re living within your means. Be Disciplined Once the cash is in the envelope, that’s it. You don’t’ get any other money for groceries, gas, etc. If you notice you’re running low on gas and out of cash, but still have a week until the next paycheck, find someone to carpool with or take the bus. Over time you’ll learn to consolidate trips to the store or accumulate fuel points to save on gas without going over budget. Obviously, unavoidable expenses may cause you to spend more money than is contained in a specific envelope. However,...
How to Overcome Guilt from Debt or Poor Credit

How to Overcome Guilt from Debt or Poor Credit

If you’ve found yourself in a tight place as a result of mismanaged money, you may also find yourself racked with guilt. Hindsight is 20/20, and it can be too easy to beat ourselves up over the poor, irreversible choices we’ve made. But guilt and shame are heavy burdens that can prevent us from moving forward. Here are some ways you can overcome those feelings and get your life back on track. Pinpoint the source First, find out why you feel this way. If you evaluate your situation and can identify the source of your worries, you can then make a plan to fix it. Maybe it’s your spending habits when you go on vacation, maybe it’s being too generous with gifts for others, or maybe it’s the desire to have the newest, shiniest cars and gadgets. Whatever it is, own up to it. You can’t face and fix something if you keep hiding from it. Evaluate your source of worth Guilt and shame make us feel little and vulnerable. It’s easy to associate our character with our behavior, but it’s important to realize your credit score doesn’t measure your worth as a person. Your credit card balance doesn’t tell of your kindness. Make a list of your attributes that are unaffected by your current financial situation and build yourself up. You are a good person regardless of your spending habits. Empower yourself to take control, because you are not your debt. Take action Once you’ve identified the source of your woes and have built up the confidence to get over it, then get going! Nothing will change unless...
How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day on a Budget

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day on a Budget

When you decide to take control of your finances and stick to a budget, special events like Valentine’s Day might make you nervous. A holiday that is infamous for lavish gifts and pulling out all the stops for the one you love surely doesn’t have a place in your budget, right? If you’ve been one to go all out on Valentine’s Day in the past, it might seem impossible to enjoy it when your finances are restricted. Of course if you’re using Valentine’s Day to propose or do want to go the extra mile for someone special, you can still do so without going into debt. But if you follow these steps and get a little creative, you can still enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank and without coming off cheap. Dinner & Movie Variations The cost of movie tickets and concessions in addition to a nice dinner bill can leave a pretty big dent in your bank account at the end of the day. So instead of going with the stereotypical date, switch it up and host your own dinner and a movie. Making your own meal doesn’t have to be difficult to be nice; simply find a recipe for some delicious chicken paired with some pasta, make a simple salad and find a nice, affordable bottle of wine and call it good. Your date will be impressed with your creativity and your cooking skills. And the privacy of your own home might allow for deeper conversation than surrounded by your fellow movie-goers. Road trip Often the best memories are created when we least expect...
5 Top Reasons People Stay in Debt

5 Top Reasons People Stay in Debt

Accruing debt may seem like a necessary and inevitable part of life, but staying in debt does not have to be a lifelong burden. Unfortunately for many people, once they adopt a lifestyle out of their means by going into debt, they have a hard time getting back out of debt. Here are five of the top reasons that people stay in debt and how to avoid them. 1. Complacency Humans are creatures of habit, and once we get comfortable with something it can be hard to change. We may become so used to the routine of charging our expenses, anxiously awaiting payday, nervously checking our bank account, transferring balances around to make it work, etc. that we can’t imagine managing our finances any other way. To step outside of your comfort zone, make a list of things you regularly purchase with credit and highlight those you could do without. 2. Insecurity When your identity is tied into your possessions, letting go of them or downgrading can be a crisis of self. From expensive cars to regular lavish dinners and exotic vacations, keeping up with appearances can become a way of life that is too difficult for many to shake. The sad truth is that a lifestyle lived out of your means is not sustainable, and can abruptly end in bankruptcy, repossession, and other devastating losses. Take an inventory of your most valued possessions and evaluate why you cherish them so much. If it’s simply because of their monetary worth, perhaps it’s time for some soul-searching to improve your self-confidence and financial situation simultaneously. 3. Stubbornness Getting out of debt...
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