My friend’s parents used to save all their nickels in jars. Sometime around mid-November, they would empty the jars, roll all the nickels and cash them in. This was their Christmas money.
I love dealing in cash. As a general rule, I don’t use credit cards or cheques. All bills are paid online, an amount is transferred to savings, then I withdraw cash from the ATM once a week and dole out what I need to for babysitters, dance lessons, groceries and other miscellaneous items one might need in a typical week. I always know how much I have spent and how much I have on hand.
Homer is not quite as disciplined. He’ll stop by the ATM several times a week, play online poker, stop by the beer store and buy himself a new video game without even thinking about it. He agreed when I suggested that this arrangement was, in fact, punishing me for my discipline. I show a lot of self-restraint and do without; he shows none and wants for nothing.
So, we agreed to each take out a budgeted amount each week for personal needs. I will also withdraw grocery and babysitter money and manage those. The result is that he’s wondering how he’ll live on his allowance (which is not small) and I feel like I’ve just hit the jackpot. It’s so much more than I’m used to, that I’ve set aside envelopes to divide my money into four categories:
*Sports - to cover the cost of the kids’ sport/social activities, which usually need to be paid in big chunks at the most inopportune times (about $30/week)
*Charity - to cover anything from school fundraisers, to sponsorships, to outright donations (about $10/week)
*Fun - to cover bigger expenses, like trips, a new camera, Christmas 2009 ($100/week)
*Now - to spend… now! (the amount left over, which is still a lot (for me))
Homer will be saving all of his change in a jar “for a rainy day”. I suppose that’s some kind of (non-specific) system. The man does not like to be tied down.