It is Not Easy Being Green!
A wise frog once said, “It is not easy being green.” This week we are borrowing Kermit’s words and using them to describe our first month of managing a successful budget! Here’s how we got there…
Every month we are summoned by Coach Laura to handover our statements, paystubs and anything else impacting our financial position over the past 30 days. Since it’s not possible to add a comment within our Summit debit card transaction history like, “I had to stop at Starbucks, my sanity depended on it!” we usually have some explaining to do. The biggest change for us is the way we now fund and track our monthly spending. Every monthly bill, trip to the grocery store, ice skating payment, etc. has its own sub-savings account (we have 15 of them setup right now), so we know what we have budgeted to spend for the month. Hardest part is when it’s gone it’s gone...sorry Barista!
Also gone are the days of using both Heather and my checking accounts for expenses (planned, impulse, unexpected, etc.). Our problems with this approach was we did not communicate on what each were spending and on what; and if we over-spent, we automagically rolled over to funds in a savings account. Honest truth, it took a few hours for us to get the accounts setup. It also takes some time at the end of each day to check all of the accounts. But is it worth it? HECK YES! Combing our account-based approach with smarter grocery shopping, practically eliminating restaurants/fast food, and holding off on purchases that we can’t justify is starting to make a real difference in dollars for Team Duncan.
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In addition to our positive month, we discovered an unexpected benefit. This week I came across a $175 charge to an Au Pair service in Texas on my primary checking account. Two things wrong here:
1. Neither of us went to Texas this week
2. An Au Pair? Coach Laura would…I don’t want to think about it!
Since that account is now only funded for emergency purposes, I immediately knew it was fraud and contacted Summit to report it. In the past, I am sure we would have eventually come across the charge, but who knows how many more would accompany it. For the record, Summit was AMAZING at closing the card, refunding me the charge, and I was able to go into a branch and create a brand new card within five minutes!
Now don’t think for one second we are sitting back on our laurels and coasting. Getting a handle on our monthly budget is just the first step. We have been challenged by Coach Laura to determine how much savings is enough to have on hand in the event of a job loss, medical emergency, etc. That’s going to take us until at least next week to figure out – but we bet it will make a great blog post!