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Wow, this class seems to be flying by. This week, the lesson was on Cash Flow Planning, which I must admit, sounds much more awesome than “Budgeting”. I learned about Dave’s “zero-budget” plan a while back, built my own spreadsheets in Excel, and kept up with it for a while. Then, I would get tired of doing it and take a break.

I have actually tried to keep up with it most of this year despite falling further and further into debt. It’s probably a good thing I was at least reconciling and attempting to budget or we would be in even worse shape I’m sure.

One of the things that stuck with us through this lesson is the importance of accepting this will be a lifelong task from here on out. We will have to do a budget at least every month and then stick to it. We have to choose to live differently and that includes being committed to this task.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past weeks pouring over my old spreadsheets and making changes to our budget. There were things that we’d left off because they are automatically being billed to the credit cards (out of sight, out of mind). The husband is very leery about moving those to our debit account because we’ve been the victim of fraud a couple of times already and had our account wiped clean both times. Checks started bouncing before we knew what had happened. Bad, bad memories, so I don’t blame him.

I didn’t even want to look at the statements to find out what I had to now incorporate into our budget to keep our debt from continuing to climb. I was so afraid that updating our budget would show just how much money we didn’t have leftover.

On the contrary, I’ve discovered we do have a little extra each payday that was vanishing from our coffers. As the warden from Shawshank would say, “like a fart in the wind”. We’re encouraged by this and I’m determined to have no more disappearing acts on my watch!

Although Dave talked more about using the money envelopes this week, we actually started using them for our food budget over two weeks ago. The husband as been resistant to use cash or carry cash in the past, but he’s more open to it now.

This area of our finances was a pretty major leak and the simplicity of switching to cash has plugged that hole. At the end of the first two weeks, we actually had $33 left instead of going over budget by $330+. Score!

We’re still looking at other categories we might be able to convert to cash, but I’d like to take a week or two more focusing on the food budget to make sure that becomes a habit. When we actually have some extra money for clothes, that would probably be a good area to use cash as well.

As a bonus, because we’ve been telling our money where to go these past three weeks, in addition to having Baby Step 1 done, we were actually able to pay off one of our smallest debts. That brings us down to 9 remaining. Woohoo!

Ok, so it was really small (compared to our “big four”), but it’s progress at least. I won’t have our debt numbers until about mid-October, but I plan to post the progress in more detail then.

On to Week 4!