Thoughts from Week 1 of "The Budget"…

As you probably know (if you’ve been following my thrill-a-minute life…and if not, well, hello and I’m glad to meetcha…), Husband and I are currently enrolled in Financial Peace University and are on our way to being DEBT-FREE! Okay we are a LONG way from there, but we are at least on the way!

This week, we started our Monthly Cash-Flow Plan (a.k.a. “budget”), which includes using “the envelope system” for some of our purchases. Basically, this just means using cash instead of a debit card, but using the cash from the envelope that contains the budgeted amount from that particular category. So, for example, this morning I went to the bank and withdrew $500 in 20’s and 10’s. Now, I am someone who normally NEVER has cash, so this was a bit frightening for me! But as soon as I got back to the car I separated my wad of bills into their corresponding envelopes and recorded the deposited amount on the front of each.

My first test was to go to Target to get a few necessities. Next time, I’m going to have to take a calculator with me because it took me forEVer to shop because I was trying to add things up in my head as I went along. But good news–I only spent $69 out of my budgeted $150 for groceries/personal care items. That means we can eat again before the 24th!

I was thinking about how managing our money this way made me feel as I drove home with my trunk full of food and my purse full of dough. And what I decided was that I felt much more at ease during today’s shopping trip. Even though I had to add things up as I went, I knew that we actually had the money set aside to buy what I was getting. And I didn’t agonize over every little bargain or cute item I found and think “Should I get this?” Either it was in my budget this month, or it wasn’t. And I knew that the money would be there later in the month to pay for new tires for my van as well. Because WE HAD MADE A PLAN. We had sat our money down and had a long talk with it (and I mean loooong), and we told it exactly how it was going to be spent for the entire month.

Man, that feels good.

It’s definitely not rocket science, but it does take discipline and deliberateness. And that’s what I’ve been missing. Just going through life letting some things happen TO me instead of taking charge and being INTENTIONAL.

And even though it’s going to take five years (July of 2013 as of right now, to be exact), we WILL have everything but our house paid for, including two vehicles, too much credit card debt, and a sizeable second-mortgage.

After that? We can work on paying off our house, and we can start SAVING more money to live the way we WANT to live.

It’s the first time in a long, long time that I have seen light at the end of the tunnel. I had just kind of resigned myself to the belief that “we’ll always be in debt,” but now I realize that with the right plan and some discipline, I can write my own life story instead of just sitting back and letting someone else dictate the way it’s going to be written.

Who knew a budget could feel so freeing??


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