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ARgh--I need advice on how to manage our household money better. DH is the owner of a company and he recently took a paycut to help the company get through these tough times. I however, have been managing our house still on the higher income and have gotten us into trouble. Not too much trouble, just that we are slightly overextended (no bankrupcy or anything very serious like that) Please someone point me in the right direction for learning how to be frugal! Good websites, meal planning sites, etc......I don't really have anything that is a vice per se as far as material things go...we buy used clothes, etc. But we like to eat well and do fun things occassionally......ideas?
 

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Warning! The dreaded "B" word is coming...<br><br>
You need a written budget! There are several threads on here about how to write one and tweak it till it works for your family- but if I was in your shoes, I would do that first. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> You can include categories for clothing, food, entertainment etc... if there is money to do so and then you have only X amount to spend for each category each month or week (however you set it up.)<br><br>
It is doable! There is a thread on here about fun/frugal summer activities- check that one out! Great ideas there!
 

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I'll just give you my experience.<br><br>
I'm not good with budgets that are planned out too far in advance. Partner gets paid weekly at two jobs, and I get paid biweekly at one. Each week, we cash the paychecks (yes, <b><i>cash</i></b>) and put the money into different envelopes - rent, food, gas, medicine, bills, savings, etc. Each person has her/his own envelope, as well, and if they're saving up for something in particular, I'll write what it is in pencil on the bills themselves and tuck them inside. I do all the finances in our house, and this is the only thing I've found that works for me.<br><br><br><b>Reasons I love this system:</b><br><br>
If we want something, we have to have the money allotted for it in an envelope. If we don't have it, too bad. Have to wait until next paycheck when I'll either find enough to cover it or start putting money aside.<br><br>
Connected to the point above, it gives me an excuse. If the money's not in an envelope, it's not in an envelope. Simple as that. Both partner and son can understand.<br><br>
If the budget doesn't allow for smaller purchases that week (like a soy smoothie or a knick knack at the thrift store), they eventually end up being forgotten about. I mean, no one remembers to put aside money for a pack of gum they were wanting last Thursday. That ends up saving us money.<br><br>
I'm not great at budgeting when our income and our outflow are so closely matched. So many things come up that I haven't planned for that just throw the budget out of whack. The envelope system doesn't do that, since I'm only really budgeting for the week. I do take into account things like car maintenance and seasonal clothing purchases, and I put money aside for things like that.<br><br>
When the money was in the bank, it was like this amorphous pool of funds, and I had to figure out how to divide it perfectly so that we wouldn't go over but also would be meeting everyone's needs. It was a challenge for me. The envelope system is so much simpler. And, I think since it's a very visual system, it solidifies how much we're getting/spending/saving in my head. Also, being a visual system, it helps our son see where the money is going.<br><br>
It makes us very aware of our spending. Paying with cash makes you really think about each purchase, so you end up spending less.<br><br>
If it's something important, and we have to borrow money from one envelope to pay another (and this has happened a few times), it makes us really think about where the money is coming from. Literally, I feel as if I'm taking food out of my family's mouths if I have to borrow from the food envelope. Talk about a spending deterrent!<br><br>
Payday is fun again!<br><br>
YMMV, of course, but this has worked so well for us, I can't help telling everyone about it. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/joy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="joy">:
 

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Hey Tangled Hill... we've been thinking about some different budgeting ideas and like the concept of operating on cash like you've done. What do you do about bills though? Like utilities? Do you deposit that amount back into checking? Or go pay in person? Please share!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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We use the envelope system but not for bills. At the first of the month I take out all of the cash for stuff that would normally go on a debit card including an allowance for both dh and I. I leave all of the other money in the account for bills and we just DO NOT use the debit card. This is the only way I've found for us to stay on budget, if we use our debit cards we go way over.<br><br>
Another thing we started doing was having dh do the grocery shopping. He buys what's on the list and that's it and for the first time ever, last month we spent within our budget.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Hey Tangled Hill... we've been thinking about some different budgeting ideas and like the concept of operating on cash like you've done. What do you do about bills though? Like utilities? Do you deposit that amount back into checking? Or go pay in person? Please share!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"></div>
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We thought about this and decided that it would be good to have the little one see us pay for everything in cash. It gives him such a good sense of how much we earn for the amount of time we spend working and how much things cost. Besides that, the more I learn about banks, the more I don't want to fund them in any way. So, we actually get money orders for bills. They work just like checks, except you have to purchase them (we buy ours at the grocery store). They only cost us a quarter each, and I don't have to deal with the bank. The extra expenditure is worth it to me just for that. Of course, we only buy about five money orders a month, so it's not like it's gonna break us. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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I <3 the idea of money orders and skipping the bank thing completely. I am a very visual, hands on type. I think this could really work for us.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 
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