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The Budget: Happy Brown House Style!

by Sara McClure on February 5, 2010

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about how we do our budget here at the Happy Brown House. First, I guess I should tell you that this budgeting thing hasn’t always gone smoothly around here. When you take two different people with different backgrounds, thoughts, habits, and you dump all the funds into one account it can get interesting. Wouldn’t you agree?

Even with all of our pre-marital prep work, things got interesting. We had gone through the Crown Financial Study when we were engaged, but we really didn’t have a clue. It was almost like we were making a budget with play money and nothing really sunk in and changed our behaviors. At the time of our marriage we were both working full time. I was working on my Master’s degree and tutored after school. Ray had a small side job in addition to his full time job. We bought what we wanted (within reason), ate out when we wanted, and didn’t blink at the thought of paying for a large cable package. Fast forward a few years….We have a house, a baby, and I resigned from my job to be a SAHM to Jonah. Needless to say, things have changed in our budget.

I won’t lie, it’s been a challenge to go from not really budgeting much to counting EVERY single penny. My favorite tool that we’ve used to help us get on track for paying off our debt has been Crown Financial Ministry’s Mvelopes. It is a secure online program that you can link to your bank account, credit cards, and bills to help you budget. Much like the popular “envelope” budgeting method, you set up a spending plan and fund your envelopes using the information from your checking account. It never actually takes money out of your account, but you can split your balance into all of your budget categories. When I make a purchase and use my debit card, the transaction shows up in Mvelopes. I then click and drag the transaction to the appropriate envelope category. The transaction amount is subtracted from my balance and I know exactly how much money is left for that category. You can pay bills from it too! If you have a fancy-schmancy phone you can look at your budget from your phone (we don’t have a fancy phone so we haven’t tried this feature). If you have trouble, they have an online chat with one of their staff members available to troubleshoot with you. I’ve used the online chat help and it was great! To sum it all up, it’s worked wonders for us!

We’ve already paid down a big chunk on one of my school loans and are scheduled to pay it off this month. When we pay off that one, we will use the debt snowball method to attack the next. We will keep doing our debt snowball until all of our list of stupid debts we acquired are gone. From there…save, save, save!

Crown Financial Mvelopes has a free 14 day trial, but I’ll be honest, it took us several days to get all of the accounts set up correctly (online security questions). For us, the approximate $10/month is worth it. It helps this visual learnin’, budget-challenged girl keep our finances in line without making me want to pull my hair out.

*I was NOT paid for talking about Mvelopes. I’m just sharing what has helped out our family. All opinions are my own.

So I’m wondering, do you budget? What works for you? Please share!

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