As soon as I moved to Houston to start working, I made myself a budget sheet. My goal was to sit down at the beginning of every month and write out what expenses would be deducted from my salary, how much I would put into my savings, and spend only a small portion of what was left over. Unfortunately…that didn’t quite happen.
I’m not big on shopping but I love a good bargain-buy and I absolutely LOVE knickknacks (coffee mugs, notebooks, candles, etc.). That means that even though I rarely ever buy anything “expensive” I end up having a lot of inexpensive stuff and stuff creates clutter. Owning a lot of stuff isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I do believe that physical clutter can block blessings and I don’t want to get in the habit of just collecting useless items. And since I know that my in-the-moment spending habits can get out of hand, I have to put forth more effort to save money for the future. Plus, with wedding planning looming around the corner and a strong desire to travel abroad, my fiancé and I have admitted that we’re going to have to get super serious and disciplined about our spending. Last night, we whipped out a few copies of the budget sheets that I made and faced the truth. We…we… we looked at our bank statements! Oh the horror: dinning out, drinks at the bar, popcorn and nachos at the movies – it was absolutely obscene. After seeing how far out of hand we’d gotten, we decided to go back to a budgeting method that I started using a few years ago.
I call it the envelope method (how clever, eh?). Here’s how it works: after accounting for all of my expenses, each expense item gets assigned an envelope (groceries, gas, grooming, etc.) Then, once I’ve paid all of my bills via direct deposit, I withdraw cash and allocate a set amount of money to each envelope. Example: Every month I stick $75 cash into my “gas” envelope, $30 into “beauty supplies”, and $40 into “personal groceries”. I’m much more of a visual learner so this method is perfect for me. If I want to spend $40 on beauty supplies I have no other choice but to remove the extra $10 from either my “gas” or “grocery” envelope. Talk about a quick reality check! Because I can see how I’m “stealing” from myself in certain areas, I can really take time to evaluate whether or not I “need” that new bottle of OPI Big Apple Red nail polish. The other thing that I love about the envelope method is that there have been times when I find a nice stash of money inside of an envelope that I hadn’t gotten around to using the month(s) before!
Everyone likes to look and feel good but at what cost? I’d much rather take pictures on a mountaintop or under a waterfall than have the latest accessory. So now that the holidays are out of the way, it’s time to get the most bang for our buck in the New Year! If you’re like me and want to start being mindful about your spending, here’s what you can do to start getting your pockets and your money mindset back on track:
- Stop avoiding it. Open those bills that you’ve been letting pile up and take a look at your bank statements. Read it out loud and face the truth of how irresponsible you’ve been. Then, decide that there is nothing cool about being in debt and choose to live a life of abundance.
- Check your balance daily. Paying attention to what you have (or don’t have) in your account will pay off in the long run. What you have today can either be a building block or a black hole for your future, but you’ll never know if you never look.
- Speak positively about money. Replace statements like, “I can’t afford that” or “I’m not good with money” with sayings like, “I have more than enough money. I am not stressed about every dollar that I spend, because there is always more where it came from.” Speaking positively about money (or anything else) draws more of it to you.
- Acknowledge that money is good. You’re not a bad person because you want to build wealth. God meant for us to live a debt-free life, full of abundant blessings. Being mindful of money allows you show gratitude for your blessings and create space to receive more!
- Don’t hoard. Money is energy and all energy should be free-flowing. Don’t hold off on paying bills because you don’t wan to be “broke”; let go of the money that you owe and make room for more to come into your life. If there is something that you need to live or live productively, buy it. The only flow of money that is negative is when it is flowing into harmful or useless expenses. Also, get organized. Don’t hang on to unnecessary receipts and bills that clutter your wallet or purse. If there are papers that you need to keep, purchase a file folder for them and leave it at home. For everything else, set up automatic payments that are deducted directly from your account. This also eliminates that anxiety of receiving bills in the mail.
- Have multiple accounts. Open additional savings or checking accounts for long-term spending. Set up automatic transfers every month so that you’re saving without giving yourself a chance to see the money being taken out of your primary account. My monthly check is deposited into my personal checking account, but from that I have set up transfers to go to my personal savings account, joint checking account with my fiancé, our wedding savings account, and our travel checking account. That way, before I go out to buy anything I’ve already stashed money away into more important things.
- Get yourself some envelopes! By monitoring your spending you show gratitude and appreciation for what you have and this will attract more of it!