Have you ever wanted to completely change your life but really don’t know where to start?
Have you felt like you were meant for more, but don’t have a clue how to get there? If so, I hope you’ll find inspiration in this article.
When my husband and I were first married, we knew nothing about how to manage our money. We figured that as long as we made enough money, that we just wouldn’t need to worry about it.
That idea worked for about a month then fell flat! We made bad choices with our money, bought things that we shouldn’t have, used credit cards, and didn’t save anything. At one point we even took out a lien on our house to free up some extra money.
This was the point that we realized that we weren’t so smart about money! Thankfully we’ve come a long way since then and have definitely changed our lives in ways we were only dreaming of back then.
Looking back, I can’t believe how much we didn’t know, and how far we’ve come today!
We learned a lot of our money management skills from a couple Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes that we took, but we’ve adapted those concepts to our needs over the years.
We don’t do everything perfect, but we definitely have come up with a good budgeting system that works for us!
For those of you who can’t see the end of the tunnel through all of your debt, and to those of you who are not even sure if you have a money management problem, I’m glad you’re here, because this article can help nearly anyone and everyone!
This one thing that we did to change our lives completely really is a magic bullet type of thing- but I won’t claim that it works overnight (most things don’t).
However, I promise that if you use this money management strategy consistently, you will:
- Start changing your life today, and for as long as you choose to
- Grow your savings, and lower your debt
- Find security in your finances
- Make your marriage and family life happier
- Completely change your life
So enough promising, I’ll get on with it and let you see the results for yourself!
Change your life completely by following one money management strategy:
This: Use ONLY CASH to buy things that you need throughout the month- I will go into why in a minute, but here are some specifics.
Do not use your debit card
NEVER use a credit card
Do not use checks
ONLY. USE. CASH.
Examples of things that you should use cash to pay for:
- Snacks at the gas station
- Going out to eat
- New purse at Target
- Dog food
- Your child’s little league fees
- A new couch
- Going to the movies
- Gas for your car
- New clothes
Anything that is not a specific recurring monthly charge, you should use cash to pay for.
The reasons for only using cash for these things are quite simple, but they are seriously pure genius when you learn them.
First- you will not spend as much money as you would if you used a debit, credit card, or even a check.
Having only cash to spend will force you into a situation where you almost can not buy something that is out of your budget. I say almost because you are always able to be flexible and shift around money from different categories.
This is important because often we make logical decisions that are good for our budget, but then good product marketing evokes our emotions and before we know it, we really think that we NEED that expensive new item! Before we know it, we’ve spent more than we wanted to.
For example: Let’s say you planned to spend $200 on a new TV and you saved up the money and brought it to the store. However once you get there, you are quickly romanced by the TV that is bigger and costs ONLY $50 more! You literally won’t be able to spend $50 extra dollars because you didn’t bring that much to the store!
In a slightly different scenario, maybe you did happen to bring extra money to the store. Now you have the option to decide if you want to give up something else that you want for the more expensive TV. Maybe it’s worth it, or maybe it isn’t. That depends on your priorities.
When you only carry cash, although it represents the same value as the number on your banking app, it SEEMS to have so much more value to you when you are spending it.
Second- you are teaching your brain, in the most effective way possible, that there is a limit to how much money you should spend on each item.
Going back to the example above, let’s pretend that you didn’t plan on buying a new TV, but when you went to the store for groceries, you saw it and had to have it. Unfortunately, you only gave yourself $250 dollars to spend for the next 2 weeks on everyday things, and you haven’t saved any money for a new TV as of yet (because you didn’t know that you wanted it).
The decision to be made is one of emotions vs. priorities. You may really WANT the TV, but you know that you NEED to have gas money in the next couple weeks to get to a from work, and you really enjoy going out for lunch a couple of times per week with co workers.
Your brain will quickly realize that the $200 TV will eat up most of your budget and you won’t have money for those other things- does this seem like a good idea or not? I suppose it depends on your priorities, but I would say no.
Third- using cash will seriously make you feel like you are in control of your own life like never before!
Before we started using cash, we constantly felt broke. We never really knew how much money we had to spend on any given thing that we wanted, we just bought and hoped that it would generally be OK.
When we started using cash, we suddenly felt like the CEOs of our own lives! Even though we were only giving ourselves a certain amount of cash each pay period, we felt more at peace, and MUCH less restricted than did before when we were just spending whatever we wanted!
I can not stress this reason enough! When you change to using only cash for your purchases, you will feel a sense of peace about your finances that you don’t get with any other system that I’ve found!
So if you’re up for it, here is a quick rundown on how to do it! You can, of course tweak this to make your own system work for you, but this is what works for us!
1. Get a 3 ring binder
2. Get 9 soft pencil cases that insert into a 3 ring binder (or more depending on how many categories you would like to separate your cash into.)
3. Label the pencil cases for each category
4. Decide how much money you need/want to spend in each category (check out my Free Printable Expense and Income Trackers to help identify how much money you spend on items throughout the month)
5. Pull out the amount of cash needed each payday, and put the right amount of cash into each categories specific case
6. Take the binder with you everywhere, or for tighter control of your spending, take only the categories that you need for that specific outing.
Here are a couple of photos of our cash binder BELOW!
The categories that we use are: Food, Animal Food, Misc. Expenses, Going Out, Vet Expenses, Clothes, Friend Gifts, Family Gifts, & Car Repair.
When we pay for something out of those categories, we put the receipt for the item into the corresponding cash pouch to keep track!
The whole idea of limiting the amount we could spend seemed foreign to us for a long time. But after much failure managing our money even with a good income, we knew we needed help!
Once we jumped in to budgeting and using only cash, our lives were literally changed forever. We simply could not ignore the benefits of using this cash system!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on using cash to change your life as well!