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Budgeting Does Work (If You Make It Easy and Fun)—Part 2

Jessica Lanning

Now that you have a sense of what you’re spending as a result of prior decisions, what you’re spending each week, and what you want to be spending money on, you’re ready to get control of all three.  And have fun doing it.

Put your attention on your weekly money

What you want to do now is physically separate your money into different buckets.  Here’s what you do next:

  1. Set up multiple accounts at your bank.  Most of the bigger institutions will let you set up multiple accounts for free if you automatically transfer money into them each month (which you will).  Nickname these accounts.
  2. The first account is your “static account” (call it whatever you want).  All income is deposited here.  Leave money there to meet static expenses.  The rest gets transferred to your “discretionary” accounts and your “savings” accounts.
  3. Only money for the week gets transferred from the static account into the discretionary account.  Make an agreement with your financial partners (if you have them) as to who is going to get how much.  Each person should get a debit card.  Each person spends that money through the debit card. No credit cards.  Pay your static expenses with a credit card if you want the miles. Use the static account to pay off the credit card, but ONLY for those expenses.
  4. IMPORTANT POINT:  Get enough money only for the week.  Not the month.  If you spend all your money by day 5 of the week, you can limp along for two days without money.  But if you run out of money on day 15 of the month, two weeks is too long to go without money.  Putting your attention in weeks also helps you focus on what you’re doing.  You will be more present.
  5. Transfer money automatically each month into your “vacation”, “kitchen remodel”, etc. accounts at a set amount (nickname the accounts as such).  For instance, $50 into the vacation, $200 into the kitchen remodel, etc.
  6. Watch what happens.  

Here’s what I hear from people who have actually done this:  People start to turn it into a game.  They start to see where they could reduce their static expenses.  They start to contemplate whether they really want that new grill (or purse or pair of shoes) or if they’d rather add that money to their “kitchen remodel” account.  They watch their static expenses shrink, they get more present with their decision-making around the discretionary money, and they love to watch their “kitchen remodel” accounts grow.  It’s a game. It’s fun.  It requires little accounting, as most of it’s done automatically.  You don’t have to watch every penny.  You don’t have to know how to use Quickbooks.  Brilliant.  If you have success, I would love to hear your stories.