Today we welcome back our Tuesday contributor, Catherine Alford!
I’ve written before about using the envelope system and how I always try to write down what I spend. Although I’m usually really good about maintaining this system, sometimes I fall off the wagon, and I proved that a few nights ago.
Last Thursday night I went out to dinner, and I took cash out of my food envelope to do so. Normal enough, right? Except, after dinner I decided to stop and get gas. I committed the envelope system sin of using my leftover food cash to pay for gas, went home, and collapsed into bed. I don’t always take all of my envelopes with me wherever I go, but in this case, I should have because this is what happened the next day:
Did Someone Steal My Money?
The next day, I walked down to the convenience store near my work to buy my hubby a beer. He finally finished a very long semester of med school, and I wanted to meet him after the test with a beer in hand.
Surprise! Congrats! At least, that’s what I wanted to say.
However when I went to pay for it, I opened my food envelope, and it was empty! What! Literally the first thing that jumped to my mind was that someone stole my cash. This would make sense right since I’m a personal finance blogger incapable of making money mistakes (note: that was sarcasm).
It took me a few minutes to remember that I used the money to pay for gas the night before and that it was not stolen after all. Combine that with the fact that it was the end of June and the envelopes were dwindling anyway, and you can see why I couldn’t buy him that beer.
The Lesson To Learn
Had I written down what I spent and re-filled my food envelope to get organized for a new month, I would have been able to buy that beer for my husband. Yet, one tiny mistake caused me to get disorganized, and I couldn’t do something nice for him.
It wasn’t a huge deal, just a small reminder that money can slip through your hands so easily. Imagine if I did that every day or twice a day, never knowing whether someone took a $20 out of my wallet or if I actually spent it.
In sum, keeping track of our finances and writing down what we spend will help all of us to keep better budgets and to know where our money is going. The envelope system really is great for that. You just have to be really good about re-filling them and keeping the categories separated! I was tired and didn’t take the extra minute to get organized, but I should have.
Like I said, it wasn’t a huge mistake, but it did impact my day in a small way. From now on, I’m going to remember that lesson and do better from here on out!
Do you use the envelope system? Do you believe in writing down everything you spend? Or, are you a little more lax when it comes to your budget? Spill it.