Our new budget system isn't anything new and exciting to most of you. It involves C-A-S-H. Technically, a combination of cash and debit (and on-line bill pay). All of this is a work in progress. The main purpose of all of this is to be more aware of some of our spending, and to start saving for things that have been lacking in our previous budgets.
The main bills (household, utilities, etc) are still paid by on-line bill pay. Gas is using the debit card (which is linked to the checking account where the main bills draw from. And the rest is cash (groceries, kid stuff, personal care...).
One of the first things I did was accept that a monthly budget wasn't working. I have tried, but it just doesn't work for us. I think because I would "rob Peter to pay Paul" and tell myself "well, that can come from next paycheck" became to easy. So I switched it up to a 2-week system.
I get paid every other Wednesday; G-man gets paid every other Monday (on the opposite week from me), and his part time job is weekly on Wednesday. In my head, the 2 week cycle always started with G-man's pay (maybe because it was a Monday?). But when I decided to do this, I started with my paycheck. I mean, it is all the same money.
Or so I thought. While there are only 5 days from my paycheck to G-man's (Wed to Mon), there are 9 days from G-man's to my next one. Figuring out how much needs to come from each of out checks is still a work in progress. G-man's checks are already disbursed into different accounts, so the amount we have in the checking account is roughly half of what my paycheck is. So more stuff comes from my check. But accounting for when things are due, it various. Like I said...it is a work in progress.
It seemed to work on paper. I had my lovely Excel sheet, with our total projected income at the top. All the expenses listed. Balanced within a dollar. But somehow it didn't work this time. I forgot a couple of expenses (prescriptions, Halloween). Our paycheck total was about $66 less than the projected amount. These few things added up to almost a $150 variance. But I didn't realize this until AFTER I paid things.
When the cash was available, it worked great. But there were several times I had to stop to get something, and the cash was home. I didn't plan to stop, but G-man texted we were out of milk, or needed XYZ. So I had to swipe my card, then take the cash from the envelope, and deposit it to cover the swipe. Many more steps. I don't want to carry that much cash on me, but not sure how to handle the things that we have money for, but spend it at a different time than expected.
Then there is the "Making up for something". Somehow I was off 2 weeks in some of the bills, so my balanced budget didn't balance (more to the point, my balanced budget worked only if everything was caught up and nothing needed to be paid NOW). I needed more in some categories to make up for the mess up. I didn't realize some of this until AFTER I had paid other things, so I didn't have that money available.
I also am not counting change. When we use cash, the change just goes into a jar. I am sure we are losing a few bucks here and there in the accounting, but the jar can be used for whatever. It looks like we went $0.50 over in food budget, but considering I probably put $3 in change in the jar, we are fine.
I didn't expect that in 2 weeks it would be perfect. I am sure I will get better at this as we go on. For those of you who use cash on a regular basis....any tips? How long did it take to adjust? Any words of wisdome.