Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Review...Financially Speaking

Boy, 2009 has been a busy year for our family. We started a 'crazy new' budgeting plan in order to pay off bills and get our financial house in order. (You can go back and read about our goals here. )

Again, in order to stay accountable to myself I plan to review our goals and update our status. This is pretty easy to do since we started this program January 1 2009! It has been nearly 1 year exactly on our new plan.

Paramount to our new plan was the creation of using the envelope system for budgeting money. We have never been cash people prior to this, always using debit cards and paying them off. Using cash only has made us very accountable about where our money is going. When the envelope money is gone, it is gone! We are much better about what we spend our money on, keeping in mind that it will 4 weeks until the money is replenished. Here are the categories I currently use for our envelopes:
  • grocery
  • out to eat
  • Walgreen's
  • van gas
  • car gas
  • prescriptions
  • clothes/garage sales

Hubby and I also get a biweekly "mad money" allowance to spend as we wish and I take out money for the kids' allowance (when they actually do their chores...still a work in progress). I still use the checkbook to pay our monthly bills; mortgage, van, student loan, water, electricity and phone.

So where do we stand? Let's take a look.

1. Family Loan: PAID

2. Visa Bill: PAID

3. Car: PAID

4. Van: in progress, we owe less than 1/2 of the original amount. Goal: pay by March 2010

5. Studen Loan: in progress. Goal: pay by March 2011

During this time of paying off these bills, we also bought a new snowblower and a laptop. I include these items in our total since we were able to pay these off as well and they are what I consider a major dollar amount purchase.

I will not use the exact dollar amounts paid, but if you pay attention to my blog regularly you will be able to ballpark it. Considering all of the above debt, during 2009 we were able to pay off an astounding 40% of our debt. That is not a typo.


This makes me think only one thing....why didn't I do this years ago? Seriously, we did more in one year than in all the million years of our marriage. And we did it with 3 kids in tow. Plus, I don't feel like we "did without" this year. Yes, we didn't take any far away vacations. But people that know us also know that Dave and I didn't take many vacations before we had kids. We still did a ton of fun stuff. We had 3 overnight stays at waterpark hotels, visited family often, went out to eat semi-frequently, swam nearly daily over the summer, still had the kids in swimming lessons, and played outside a ton!

This year I realized how many fun and FREE things there are to do with your family in our area. I clipped coupons, cut our monthly grocery budget by at least 1/2 to 1/3 AND brought home at least 3X as much food. We have a huge stockpile of food and non-food items in the house. We were able to collect and donate to the food pantry, and bless many in-need moms in my mom's group. Again, with less money.

My husband and I were reflecting on this past year and all the progress we have made. He made a good point. This year we restricted our budget more but felt like we had more money than ever before. I truly believe that the reason is using cash. Since we are physically touching cash more often by paying with it, it feels like we have a lot of it. Not once have we felt deprived this year with this budget.

Another benefit of this past year was figuring out what we NEED versus what we WANT. In June we gave up cable tv. We have a converter box that in theory should pull in the local channels. On a good day we can maybe get two channels. But we have found that we have little time for tv. In fact, I prefer to not have it on. I'm not going to lie, I do watch several shows online- but around my schedule. But overall, I do not miss the 'noise' of the tv. The kids don't even ask for it, they only missed it for the first week or two. Happily, they spend a lot more time playing in the toy room and reading.

But I am human, there are things I wish I had too.

For example, there are times when I wish I had a bigger house. But then I realize that our budget would be drastically different with a larger mortgage. It would be more expensive to maintain, more to clean etc. I love our little house, can barely keep it clean even! If my hubby or I lost our job, I find comfort that we could easily keep up our house without a blip on the radar. Plus I feel like it keeps us closer as well. My kids must learn to share and play together because there aren't many places to hide. They each have their own room to escape to as well. That being said, our house is perfect.

I wish my hubby didn't have to commute so far to work. But to change that would involve moving to a new house and increasing my commute as well. It would be nice if the hubby was home earlier to play with the kids too.

I would also feel more comfortable with more money in our savings account. This is incorporated into our new goals for 2010....more on that soon.

Most of all, I would like to encourage everyone out there to take stock of your money and figure out where you stand. Even on a small budget, everyone can save money for the things you really want. If I can accomplish 40% of debt payoff in one year, think of what you can do!!

Email me at if you have any questions or would like more info. I am always more than happy to meet with you, shop with you, or give you the information you need. Remember I am not a professional, I only know what worked for me.

Just like the blog says "I'm keeping my Cash". That money is mine, and I will decide how to spend it. Here's to keeping more of your cash.



  1. Awesome...amazing...inspirint! I love it all! You guys are doing awesome and I am so happy for you!

  2. I will take help anytime!! WTG on your budget and getting things paid off.