Friday, December 12, 2008

Online Budgeting

I have tried many, many budgeting plans in the past. When it was just me and Eric and one child, it was pretty easy to use physical envelopes like Larry Burkett recommended. I would pull out all our spending money in the right bills and put them in the correct envelopes. If I went to the Base Exchange and bought a shirt and some curtains I would run it through in 2 transactions and pay for one out of the clothing envelope and one out of the household envelope. It worked, but was time consuming.

Then, ten years ago, we adopted two children and had another one all in a four month span. Did I mention that Eric was deployed for much of the 18 months following our growth from one to four children?! It was also the year of the rabbit in Japan (where we were living at the time), but that is beyond the point.

At that time, my budgeting pretty much fell to the wayside. I had much more important things to do. Like making sure I didn't lose any children while they scaled the piles of clean laundry waiting to be folded. And small things like feeding them and stuff.

Since then we have gone to paying for everything by debit card, which only additionally complicated things. Oh yeah, and I have had 5 more children.

So for the past 10 years I have struggled to find an easy budgeting system which would allow me to keep track of what I spend while not taking HOURS each week. Because uninterrupted quiet only comes in 3 minutes at a time around here, and I certainly don't want it to be spent thinking about money.

I have found a really easy system! I tried it before, but they didn't have our bank online. Now they do, and it is working!!! Go check out Mvelopes and see what you think! It hooks up to your bank account and downloads all the transactions. You set up your budget and divide the money in your accounts into the different categories. When you have a transaction from the gas station, you can just drag it over to the "Gas" envelope, and the money is subtracted from the account. They have a quick tour you can take to see the way it works.

If your bank is connected to this program, it is SO EASY. This morning it took me 2 minutes to drag the 9 new transactions to the appropriate "envelopes." I quickly saw that we only have $3 left for food, but that we have a LOT extra in gas. It has also let me save up money into categories for school supplies, car registration, and other things that I was always spending all the money without noticing. Now we are not spending all our money every month, I am just spending what is in our categories.

I do still go online with our bank and balance our checkbook every few days to a week. That helps a lot too, since it never seemed to balance when I waited a whole month.

Proverbs 13:11 - Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

There is a cost to the mvelopes program ($10 - $12 a month, I think), but the first month is free, so you can try it and see if it will work for you. I know we are saving much more than we are paying for the service. I also know that I feel a lot more in control of where our money is going, and that peace is priceless.

Go check it out. Also check out Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Fridays for more frugal ideas. Even though the price of gas is down, we can all use to save all the money we can.


  1. Great post, I am bookmarking this page for future reference for our own budgeting goals. Thanks again.

  2. That sounds like a great idea!! I will have to check out the links you posted for sure.