Friday, August 22, 2008

Frugal Friday: I'm a Frugal Misfit...

Ok, I have to admit something on this beautiful Frugal Friday. I feel really weird sometimes as I am reading all these wonderful frugal blogs that talk about using the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system. For those that don't know what I’m talking about, check out Dave Ramsey’s site here. The basic premise of the cash envelope system is that when you set your budget for the month (or week or whatever), you are to put that amount of cash for each category into an envelope. The idea is that when the cash is gone for that particular category, it’s over. No more until next month (or whatever time period you budget for).
Logically, this method of budgeting makes a lot of sense and works for a lot of people. Actually, from what I read on the frugal blogosphere, it seems that the majority follows this method (please correct me if I am wrong!).
However, what I want to tell you today is that the cash envelope system does NOT work for me personally. It does make me feel like an oddity, but I’m fairly used to that; as if being a 5’10” female doesn’t make me stick out enough, then I have this Messianic Jewish thing going on too. So let’s just add this one to the list of my quirks!
I find that when I have cash anywhere around me, it always has this sneaky way of finding itself in someone else’s pocket very quickly. I know, I know…I need more self-control. That’s why this frugal lifestyle and couponing has done wonders for me. But, honestly, I have found that I have to do what works for me, which is not the cash envelope system.
What does work for me is using a credit card for all my purchases and then, and this is MUCHO IMPORTANT, paying it off at the end of the month. I can see how dangerous this is, but we really do pay it off EVERY month. I know all the financial statistics about how terrible and bad credit cards are, but really this is what works for my family.
Here’s the factor that makes this system work for us: accountability, which is a powerful and wonderful part of marriage. I know that when that credit card bill becomes available, my husband will see every penny that I spent. And where. And when. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I’m not being sarcastic; I really do love it.
But the key is that this is what works for US. It might not work for you in your situation. The important thing about frugality/budgeting is that you have to know what works for you and then do it.
So my three criteria, in order of importance, for any budgeting strategy are these:
1) The Bible. Does your budget include a portion for charity/others in a way that glorifies God? To be honest, I’m not a big fan of using the word “tithing” (another quirk) because the tithe related to the temple. However, that being said, I still think that the same principle applies today that a “firstfruits” of what we have should be shared with those in need.
2) Your authority. Does your husband or parent (or whoever your authority figure is) approve? Maybe you don’t like that word authority. In our society, that word most of the time has a bad connotation. Even if you don’t like it, it’s always good to run your budget by someone that is knowledgeable in this area.
3) What works for you. No matter what everyone else is doing…you have to do what makes your particular situation work. And mine is not cash envelopes, no matter how much they make sense.

What works for you? Do you use the envelope system or something different? Leave a comment...I'd love to hear!

There’s my Frugal Friday tip for the day. See more great ideas at Biblical Womanhood.


Brooke said...

the cash system doesn't work for me either. i usually just end up pulling the card out once the money runs out (regarding to fast food). i'm good at budgeting for groceries, so i would rather get my 1% cash back (and pay it in full at the end of the month) then worry about cash.

you are not alone!! :)

Donna @The Frugal Mom Blog said...

I could not agree with you more! To me being frugal is what works for your family, what makes YOU save money. If the envelope systems is going to make you spend money, obviously your alternative is what is saving you. That is what I am trying to say in my blog, put a spin on frugality and make it work for you! I love reading people's spin on what is frugal! Have a great day!

Alyssa @ Keeping the kingdom first said...

You are not the only one! I can't use cash, it just makes me nervous. It seems to disappear oh so quickly. I choose to use my debit card, and spend very carefully. As far as Dave's other recommendations, they all work for my family! Just not cash.