Our family is on a mission to live on a budget, get our finances in order and live a simpler life. My goal is to post at least once week about how we are doing that. We started in June, and this is what we've been doing so far. First we began to seriously pray about our finances and our desire to live debt-free. Then we sat down and made a plan. We figured out exactly what expenses we have. We included everything we could think of. Our house payment, van payment, loans, cell phones, electric, gas, groceries, tithes, offerings, etc. Next we figured up what Shane makes each month. And we realized we are not living within our means. We pay out more than we bring in. Bummer! So Shane decided to work one of his off days each week when his bosses will let him. Once we knew where our money was going we made up a very strict budget. And we started using the envelope method of budgeting. This is basically where we make up 1 envelope for every expense we have. So we have 1 for gas, 1 for groceries, 1 for loans and so on. We've tried several methods of budgeting but we really like this one. It really helps me see exactly how much money we have available and keeps impulse buying down. At the end of the month any money left over in envelopes can be put toward savings, bills, charities or whatever we decide to do with it. That's a huge incentive for me not to spend all the money in the envelopes. It really encourages me not to spend money on things I don't absolutely need. We decided extra money would be put in a Christmas envelope. It took a few months before we saw any real progress but by September all our bills were current and we bought our first Christmas presents in August. With 5 kids the earlier you start the better. Also I realized in June that Shane would be getting 3 paychecks in August. So we decided to pay all our bills with the first two paychecks and be very, very determined that all of August bills would get paid out of the first two paychecks so that the third check would be completely free. Man! That was hard and took discipline! It was so tempting to roll bills over to the last paycheck especially since Shane wasn't able to work as many of his off days. But we continued to pray about it and on August 31st we were able to pay extra on our loans and on Shane's truck note. So going into September we only had a half payment on the truck and no payments due on the loans! Yeah! In all this we have had a few setbacks. The biggest one being that his car began having motor problems and we had to trade it in for a used truck. Which added another expense to our budget since his car had been paid off. He works 30 miles away and the only other vehicle we had was my 12 passenger van. We considered him driving my van but that meant I would have no way to church for an indefinite amount of time, plus gas for the van is crazy high. The other big obstacle was that he wasn't able to work as many of his off days as he had hoped. But all in all I'm optimistic about our plans and goals.
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