What will you do with your money?

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The start of a new year is a great time to tell your money where to go. Have you made some financial goals for the year?

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If you haven’t had a money meeting yet this year, don’t feel bad. Ours didn’t happen until this week. I’m the Keeper of the Quicken and I just had too many other things on my plate.

However, I know from experience that keeping good books and talking about it with your spouse is the key to good spending habits and being able to save toward your goals. Last year we reached two of our main financial goals:

1. We took our family to France for a month and paid for it in cash.

2. We sold our money pit of a rental house, even though we had to pay several thousands of dollars in cash to meet the loan.

Thanks be to God, we are in a different place than we were 7 years ago when we woke up and smelled the debt. I never thought we’d be able to do those things.

And we probably wouldn’t have, if we hadn’t made some goals.

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Here are my hopes for our money this year:

Simpler finances

It takes me a good hour or two every month to do the books. I’d really like to simplify this and make money communication easier between me and FishPapa. I read this article which has me considering moving to a digital envelope system. My hope to return to physical envelopes last year kind of fizzled.

Do you have experience with digital envelopes? I’m so curious if that would work for us.

Increased giving

I think it would be good for us to increase our charitable giving. There are so many needs in this world. This isn’t an area I excel in, so I’d like to get better.

A replacement/third car fund

With two teenagers and a third on the way, it’s not too long before a third car will be helpful — if the ones we have can hold strong. We just replaced batteries in both, so here’s hoping. Batteries aren’t cheap anymore, did you know that? Goodness!

money pounds

College funding

Yes, we are late to the game on this one, but you know what? It took us 35 and 44 years to figure out the no-debt thing. I think we’re doing pretty good. Better late than never, right?

Theoretically, we don’t need to invest as much each month for the littles as we do for the bigguns. We just need to crunch the numbers and start chipping away.


We are hoping to take the FishFam to Hawaii sometime this year. Travel was really good for us, and we’re ready to go again. We also have our eyes on a return trip to Europe in 2016.

I’ve got my eyes on airline deals; we’re trying to narrow down which island and all that jazz.

Healthier groceries

Currently our budget is $1000 a month to feed eight even though the USDA Food Costs say it should be about $1200. I’d like to increase the quality of what we eat, but prices are still skyrocketing. A new law about egg labeling has jumped the price of eggs here by $1/dozen.

So, that’s what I’m thinking about this year.

What are your financial goals for the year?

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  1. A co-worker of mine goes to Hawaii each year. They stay on the big island and get a house through one of house share sites. They have a place they always go and they love it. They found the house much cheaper than a hotel for their group of 8 and they are able to cook most of their own food or get take away easily rather than doing a sit-down meal each day. They do a lot of hiking and beach time so they stay near those things (4 blocks from the beach – walkable!).

    Have fun with all the planning – I’ve loved hearing about your France trip!

  2. We are still having our 2015 financial conversation, hopefully we’ll have it all ironed out by the end of the month. One small thing I’ve done this year is to send my monthly “gifts” budge cash to a Christmas fund, and finance all other gifts this year through other sources like swagbucks. So far I am ahead, and that is good because most of the birthdays in our family are in the summer!

    We too will need/want a another (second) car in this next year. For years we’ve done fine with just one because my hubby has a company truck. So that and paying off last year’s big remodel project are on the table.

  3. My goal – is to take my children to the beach – either NJ or NC or both – this summer. And for my husband to get a job!! He’s been unemployed since Aug 28 and it’s not fun. But I’m trusting God to provide an awesome opportunity, help us out of the hole we had to get into to survive this time period (we normally only carry debt of house/cars) and some down time for the family!

  4. I use Mint like the article suggests for envelope budgeting – for the last 4.5 years, and I love it. After the first month or so, we have never gone over our overall monthly budget (we have made mid-month adjustments for unexpected expenses & mint makes that easy). I like that both my husband and I can always pull up the app to see where we are on each budget at anytime. Takes a while to set up, but now I just spend a couple of minutes at the end of every day or two making sure things made it into the right category.
    It has also proved very helpful during tax season as I can quickly & easily export all childcare payments, charitable contributions, etc. to check against our other records and make sure we have all receipts.

  5. My husband and I have been using YNAB (you need a budget) for going on three years now and I love it! We have never had so much money in our checking account! It all has a job though even if it is just sitting there for an emergency. Prior to using YNAB we used Quicken but I found YNAB much better in terms of budgeting our money. I felt like Quicken just tracked where it went. Using YNAB we tell our money where to go!

      1. We thought we would for investments and such but it ended up not synching very well so I just started doing it manually. We only have a few things that I look up every month and just input them into an excel spreadsheet. YNAB does have some reports that you can use but unfortunately I’m not real good about using that. My goal this year is to get back on track with it all! Having three littles makes it hard for me to stay awake and focus on finances after they are asleep!

          1. We have used YNAB for the past few years & I have been pleased. I do use it to reconcile with our checking account each month & haven’t had a problem. Familiar with Quicken from an office setting & I agree with commenter above, it just shows where your money has gone, doesn’t really help with planning.

          2. Thanks for the feedback. So, would you recommend abandoning Quicken for record keeping and tax reporting? Or could I feasibly do both?

          3. We use YNAB to balance our checking account. Anything we spend gets in put into a checking register in YNAB and then you categorize it based on whatever envelope. I go through once a week and reconcile to make sure bank account and YNAB match. YNAB will automatically take it out of your envelope so when u look at your budget you know you only have xx dollars to spend which is awesome so you don’t have to figure it out yourself!

  6. Thank you for the link to the Simple Economist’s blog post. I use a combination of Quicken and an Excel spreadsheet to allocate and track finances according to a zero-based budget. Instead of envelopes, I call our individual funds buckets. The problem is since we often use a debit card, I have to input expenses into the Excel sheet, then subtract from the bucket line items in Quicken. It is a colossal pain and takes an hour or more each week to manage. After reading an article from Money Saving Mom’s blog with links to some tools, I’m ready to dump the old system and find something a bit less labor intensive. I have a Mint account, but haven’t had the time to invest into setting it up. I think I’m waiting for a voice to tell me, “Use this budget tool”. Meanwhile, I’m 2 weeks behind on our finances and dread the two or more hours to get it all straightened out. YNAB? Crown? Compass Financial? Mint? Calgon, take me away!
    PS, Please keep us posted if you try SE’s method.

      1. I think so. Maybe Goodbudget, as a poster below suggested? I’m going to read up about it.

  7. I don’t have any experience with electronic envelopes, so I can’t help you there, but it sounds like a good idea. I used to use physical envelopes before I found Quicken. I just use Quicken to create a budget and track expenses during the month. That seems to work well for me.

    I love your travel plans! We don’t have any of those planned until we pay off our mortgage, other than trips to visit family.

    My biggest goal this year, besides decreasing expenses across all categories so that we can put as much as possible towards our mortgage, is to decrease our grocery spending. As you well know, this is a challenge when your aim is to eat as healthy as possible. I’m trying a new method this year, so we’ll see how that goes.

    Thanks for sharing! It’s encouraging to know others out there are like-minded.

    1. I love Quicken for bank statement reconciliation, but the budget area has never worked well. Currently, I want something that my husband and I can see at a glance (preferably on the go) where we are at.

      1. We felt the same way about Quicken! You could potentially do both however it would be more work obviously 🙂 YNAB is nice too since they have an app and you can know on the go how much money you have left and you can input transactions on the go as well which is nice!

        1. To answer your question from above, you could still use both Quicken & YNAB if you wanted. I only use YNAB, but I like to keep things as simple & easy to follow as possible. I do use it for tax purposes (rental property, farm etc) and it has worked well and I have yet to feel the need for anything additional.

          1. So, you do all your bookkeeping in YNAB? I’d just transfer this year’s data there? Have you ever had an issue accessing your data? It’s in the cloud, I presume.

          2. Yes, all our bookkeeping & info for tax purposes is done in YNAB. I have not had any problem being able to access it & the website is fairly helpful with tutorials & articles when you are first getting started or have a question. It syncs with Dropbox. Our goal this year is to continue to simplify things, we have a property similar to your blue house, we are set to close on the sale & are bringing lots of cash to the table to get rid of it, but it will be one less thing to own!

  8. Count me in as one who loves the idea of physical cash envelopes and can’t seem to make it work for us. I found a free digital envelope system called Goodbudget, and I have been using that recently. It has a mobile app and virtual goal envelopes too. I have also looked at YNAB and think it looks good too. I’m going to try Goodbudget for six months. I love the idea of subaccounts that was mentioned in the article. I am going to talk to the hubby and find out if the credit union can do that. That could really help us.

    1. If we had to make physical envelopes work, we would. We have. But things are so complicated in my every day, I need something simple that will save me time. Thanks for sharing about Goodbudget!

    2. My husband and I use the goodbudget app as well. We have 2 checking accounts.

      The first one is pretty much on autopilot because this is where all our fixed payments are auto drawn from. At the end of every month the balance is $0 (well actually $100 because that’s our buffer). I never have to balance this checkbook.

      The balance in the second checkbook should always be equal to the balance in our good budget app. We have about 15 virtual envelopes in ours now, everything from a sinking fund for our taxes, car repair, and quarterly utilities or Christmas spending or our ever present baby step one.. Both hubs and I use our phones to record expenses or credits. Going online with a computer is also an option. Every payday we move a lump sum of money between the two checkbooks using online banking. One of us then manually splits up that lump sum of money into the virtual envelopes. I never have to balance this checkbook either.

      We do however have a few cash envelopes. Groceries, clothing and restaurants are great ones. No electronic maintenance for these high frequency expenses.

      Great post. Thanks!

      1. Oh, I forgot. Whenever either of us swipes our debit card we enter the expense on our phones budget app. Takes 10 seconds per entry. Syncs immediately.

  9. My financial goals this year are broad at the moment… Mainly figure out the best way to afford to stay home with my 5 month old as long as I can!
    My husband and I work veeeery differently when it comes to money. Our ideas of budgeting and laying out figures on paper gives us both nightmares because our brains work so differently! We have debt, we need to det out of it… We really really need to sort it out ASAP! I just need to convince him rice bowls are good ways and that will help a lot!

  10. Goal number one: Find out if I can take a year’s leave from my job, then figure out what it would take to pay for it! We’re already saving against the hope that this will happen.

      1. I want to stay home with my kids. Next year (well, next school year) is my oldest child’s last year before Kindergarten, and I’ve never gotten the chance to be home with the kids for more than a few weeks at a time. I really want that with him before the opportunity is gone, as we don’t plan to home school. Since it doesn’t look feasible to stay home for good at this stage in our lives, I’m hoping for just one year…and then, who knows?

  11. We’re still having our talk. My husband doesn’t like to talk much, so we only talk for a few minutes on the weekend. So far, we haven’t really found anything else we can cut back on, than what we already have, but we’re still looking. I never heard of the USDA food costs, so I’m off to check it out.

  12. I use YNAB as our virtual envelopes. Actually I still pull cash for some groceries, and a few odds and ends, but that’s the beauty of the system. You can do either! It is all tracked in YNAB. They offer a free week to try and the help/support is phenomenal! I use the phone app to enter receipts on the go, which is great because if my husband is out and about he’s got current info as well. I don’t import the bank transactions, but its an option. I know of businesses that are using YNAB exclusively. I’ve been using it now for just over 2 years and am still loving it! It’s gets better over time. I love that you can schedule transactions (think those annual fees you forget about, etc.) I’ll just stop here…but it’s great!

  13. I’m a Quicken / spreadsheet kind of person. Since I enter receipts within a 3 or 4 day window, I’m pretty much on top of variable expenses.

    One way we saved for college was to get a cash back credit card and put all the cash back rewards towards college. It’s not huge against the bills but it is something. Oh, and since we now have two in college, vacations are one of those expenses that have been moved into the “definitely not a need” category.

    For those of us in college or have children in college, YNAB is free for college students: http://www.youneedabudget.com/blog/2014/ynab-is-now-free-for-college-students/

  14. My husband lost his last and final job a year ago. He is of the age that it would be difficult to find a job with so many young ones out of work etc. SO we have spent the last year trying to figure out our new normal financially. We have no pension. We have a finance “guy” who has helped with some of the big decisions but we have no idea how to get started with a daily/weekly budget with out finite funds. I am not familiar with any of the above mentioned online systems. Nor do I know how the find the article mentioned above. I am a very simple person and would like things as simple and straight forward as possible. It is just the 2 of us and we have no debt. We worked very hard to maintain that over the years BUT I feel at a loss at the moment. Lost my bearings. And not sure how to start over?

    Also Jessica still not able to get to HOME on your site, also in archives, March 2015 no longer shows up, so now I have tried March 2015 in the search box….no dice. Finally found this article by just putting in 2015. Also clicked into your other site and it seems to come to the home page there so I remain stumped.

    1. (daily/weekly budget with out finite fund) Meant to say with our finite funds.

    2. I am perplexed. I was having the problem in Chrome but the fixes that the host did worked for me. Have you updated your browser? Also, let me know what browser you’re using and what kind of computer. So sorry for the trouble.

      Do you get the daily email notifications? That might help you get to the recent posts by clicking through those emails.

  15. Jessica, did you ever try out Goodbudget or YNAB? I finally took the plunge and tonight created a budget in the free version of Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar. But since it is pretty limited, I’ve been reading and researching YNAB, and rereading your post and comments. I think I might try both GoodBudget and YNAB next. At least the hardest part – establishing a rough monthly budget – is out of the way.