Being Intentional about Saving Money

Over the winter, Michael picked up a book from the library that he devoured about smart spending and saving. The logic is completely down-to-earth: suggesting that if you want to save more money, start by spending less. The family's goal was to be completely debt free and live simply enough so that the husband and wife only have to have part-time jobs to support themselves and are completely set for retirement.

Boy, does the idea of only having to work part-time sound like such a luxury to me!

Anyway, one of the things the book recommended was to create budgets and savings for all of your expenses. So there's a line-item in your budget not only for groceries and eating out but also for more periodical purchases like oil changes for your car or gifts or vacations.

We decided this was something we wanted to do, but it wasn't until we took our trip to Savannah (and came home and typed our receipts into our monthly budget) that we decided to get serious about setting up a bank account strictly for traveling. I wanted to do this so that when we decide to get out of town, even if it's just a weekend trip like Savannah was, we don't feel guilty about it because we've already put the money aside and that's what it's been earmarked for.

We also set up a savings account like this for our car; to sock away money to cover oil changes and other necessary upkeep, but also to save up for whenever we need to buy our next vehicle. (Which was soon put too use last week when we had to get our brakes replaced!) When I bought my Civic, I was fortunate enough to be living at home at the time so even though I bought it new (used Hondas were more expensive than brand-new!), I'd already saved up enough for a hefty down payment and was able to pay the whole thing off in less than a year. On an entry-level budget. That was such a freeing experience that I would love, love to be able to continue to do that in the future--pay our debts off ASAP and get out from under that monthly burden.

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  1. that book looks really interesting- sounds like what Nick and I always talk about wanting- just being able to work some and have it be enough. Being a one car family (with that car paid off) helps us a lot. I also love the idea of a savings account for travel- maybe we will start!

  2. What a great idea to have seperate accounts for everything. I'll definitely have to discuss this with my fiance. I grew up using the envelope system so this would defintely be great for me.

  3. I have this book, it is very good. Neither one of the authors made at that time a "large salary" and it is amazing what they were able to do. I think it was written around 2000. Would be really interesting to see how they handled the downturn of the economy. I wish I knew some follow up. FOr sure, I recommend this book.

  4. @ Jessica - Yes, I hope we're able to stay one-car as long as possible. Aside from just the car payment, saving on insurance has also been great!

    @ chocoholic - We've talked about trying the envelope system but so far haven't committed to it, preferring to use our rewards credit card instead (and paying them in full each month!). I am curious to try it sometime and see if it affects our spending.

    @ Phoebe - That's a really good point! I know my husband tried to research more about them after he read it, but couldn't really find anything online. I'd be curious to know where they are / what they're doing now, too!

  5. Wow Carmen and Michael, this will be one of the best things you've ever done. Stick to it! Leigh Anne and I have done the envelope system for almost 3 years and have managed to have a baby, buy a 1 year old car, pay off student debt...all without touching savings or borrowing for it. What a peace we have in our marriage! Good luck! Can't wait to hear how it's transformed your lives in a couple of years!

    --Josh and Leigh Anne

  6. @ Josh & Leigh Anne - Oh, thanks so much for your note! It's so good to hear from "success stories" like you who have trooped through this phase already and are reaping the rewards :) Thanks for the encouragement!!

  7. To Josh-that is quite an accomplishment. Congrats on that. Do you by chance have a blog where you discuss how you have done this?

  8. These are great ideas. We've gone through Dave Ramsey's Get out Of Debt class. And if you ever find having so many accounts gets to hard try the envelope system. We love using it because we have a safe place for our envelopes which are labeled, Gas, Emergency Fun (which we have 1000 in), Groceries, Eating out, and one for Entertainment (going to the movies, or we keep adding to that when we want to buy something special.)
    We've found this works so well for us because we put the money in the envelope, and until we put more money in it, we forget it's there. Plus designating your weekly income helps so much. :)
    I applaud you both for starting a budget. It will help you in the long run!

  9. @ Crystal Rae - That's a good point! I know we don't exclusively want to do the envelope system, but I think your point about doing it for some of the other accounts / smaller budgets could really be quite helpful to keep separate. Thanks for sharing and suggesting!!

  10. @Phoebe-unfortunately, we don't really do a blog for how we do our finances. Essentially, we've set a few goals (ie, have a baby, buy a car, give,give,give) and then created a spreadsheet that "spends" all of our money when we get it by putting it in those catagories. So, if I get paid $1000 bucks, we put all of it across the different tabs we want to save or spend it for. We also record EVERY purchase in the different tabs. So, we can determine where all of our money is going. It's similar to Dave Ramsey. I agree with Crystal Rae, it will help in the long run! Good luck!


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