Create Sinking Funds

    Project 40, Set Up Sinking Funds, is another project where I get to feel virtuous because I’m already doing it.

    Which is a nice thing, because sick kids have kept me from making much progress on my goals and would have kept me from working on any big project for this. It was kind of a relief to find that this week’s was one I could not worry about accomplishing.

    As part of my regular budgeting procedure I track our sinking funds so I know what we have available. We kind of use sinking funds for everything – vacations, home repairs, bigger home projects (like replacing our kitchen countertops eventually), regularly replacing computers (my husband is an IT guy and truly does “need” a new computer much more frequently than most people), even clothing.

    If it’s not a regular monthly expense, I have it set up as a sinking fund. I probably go a little overboard with it, but I love Excel and spreadsheets so I had fun setting the spreadsheet up, and tweaking it as needed.

    I don’t have separate savings accounts for all of my sinking funds (only the car replacement fund is on its own). Instead I simply track it via the spreadsheet. It’s easy enough, and then I don’t have to reconcile dozens of accounts.

    Honestly, I feel a little silly admitting how much fun I have playing with spreadsheets. Please, someone else tell me that they also have a love for Excel!

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy a copy of One Bite at a Time using my link, I’ll get a percentage of the price, but it won’t cost you anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Give {where I suggest Compassion}

I’m working my way through Tsh Oxenrider’s ebook One Bite At A Time, tackling each project in order. All previous projects can be found here.

Project 31, Give, is another one that is super easy for me – it’s a big priority in our lives already!

I’ve already confessed to being a budget nerd, and “charity” has been a line item in my and now our budget from the very first one I established.

There are some charitable organizations where I give a monthly amount, and some that get an annual donation. I keep track of it all through Quicken and my budget spreadsheet. The spreadsheet tells me how much I have available to give – it’s set to take a percentage of our income and so I don’t have to remember to set aside money for giving; it’s done for me!

One of my absolute favorite organizations is Compassion. It’s the reason I’m trying to grow my blog and make some income from it – I’d like to be able to support Compassion even more than we already do. Compassion is a child sponsorship organization, but it is so much more than that – it transforms the lives of children and their families. You can sponsor a child, not in a general sense, but a specific child, and you can even develop a relationship with that child through letters.

If sponsoring a child isn’t the right thing for you right now, there are other ways you can still participate with Compassion in helping children. They run Child Survival Programs in several countries, which offer prenatal support and care to mothers and babies who are too young to join the regular sponsorship program. In this instance you are not supporting a specific child, but rather the center that assists many mothers and children.

And if you don’t want to make an ongoing monthly commitment, you can always donate to the Unsponsored Children’s fund, which helps support children who are still waiting for sponsors, or the Critical Needs fund, which provides financial support that is beyond the scope of the core program for medical needs, disaster relief, and other urgent needs.

I don’t get anything from recommending Compassion; I just think they are a fantastic organization and my blog goal is to get enough income from it to sponsor someone through their Leadership Development Program, which helps those with leadership potential with school expenses.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Have you ever sponsored a child with an organization like Compassion? What’s holding you back?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy a copy of One Bite at a Time using my link, I’ll get a percentage of the price, but it won’t cost you anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Create a Regular Monthly Budget

I’m working my way through Tsh Oxenrider’s ebook One Bite At A Time, tackling each project in order. All previous projects can be found here.

Project 28, Create a Regular Monthly Budget, is one of my favorite sorts of projects from the book, because it’s something I already do. That’s right, it’s a super-easy week for me!

I am a Quicken fanatic. I have records going back to when I first graduated from college. I can see just how little I earned at my various jobs. I can see how much I spent on books, or meals out, or groceries, or …

Yes, I am a budget nerd, but it makes me happy.

I don’t actually budget in Quicken, although they claim to have that capability. I never liked their setup for working with sinking funds, and I use sinking funds extensively.

For true budgeting purposes, I use an Excel spreadsheet that I based on a template I found online. I have since modified it quite a bit, but it is my (money-related) brain on paper in the computer.

Our budget has lots of line-items, but I prefer it that way. Most lines I use as sinking funds, allowing money to stockpile until we need it for that purchase. For example, our home maintenance fund. I put aside a certain amount of money every month that is allocated towards home repairs and maintenance. Most months we don’t spend any of it, but some months we spend a lot of it. The spreadsheet lets me keep track of how much we have available for every budget line without me having to have separate baking accounts for every budget item.

Do you have a monthly budget? Do you follow it?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

The Cash Experiment

Recently I read a post by Crystal Paine on the four reasons she uses cash, and it’s given me an extra push to try an experiment.

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins
(photo credit: epSos.de)

I’ve used credit cards for *years* and really have treated them like cash, always paying off the balance every month and never carrying a balance (I’m a careful about budgeting and keeping track so there’s never a surprise in the mail).

If we don’t have the money for something we don’t buy it, even though technically we could using credit cards. I’ve got a spreadsheet that tells us how much we’ve got in our various sinking funds so we know if we can afford an item.

But, I’ve read enough articles about studies showing that credit card users spend more that I’m thinking about giving it a shot for a month or two to see what happens when buying groceries & household supplies or eating out. Everything else we use a credit card for is a set amount that is not going to vary if it’s cash or not (filling up the truck, paying for prescriptions or doctor copays).

It’s my own experiment, so I think I’m going to start only with groceries because that’s the category that I more or less control all on my own.

One of the biggest reasons I think I’ve haven’t tried it before is that I’m lazy and using cash requires getting cash. Mr. SJ’s paycheck is direct deposited into our credit union, so to get cash to buy groceries I’d have to make a trip to the credit union to withdraw some cash.

Writing that makes me think that’s a pretty weak excuse for not doing something that might save us money that could go towards other uses. It’s not like the credit union is that far away, and it’s certainly not far away from some of our regular stops when we run errands. It’d just require some planning.

Do you use cash for any of your purchases? Have you found that it makes a difference in how much you spend whether you use cash or credit?