If debts are mounting and you need to take control of your spending, try something new to help improve your household budgeting. Grab some glass jars from the kitchen and use the money jar method to budget your expenses. Once you organize your money in jars, you’ll be ready to get yourself out of debt and start over with a clean slate. The premise is straightforward and simple, and if followed correctly, it can help put you on the road to financial recovery.
List your fixed expenses and dollar amounts on a budget sheet. Fixed expenses are the expenses that don’t change from month to month – your mortgage or rent, personal loans, car payment, insurance premiums and childcare costs, for example.
Subtract your fixed expenses from your monthly income to see how much money you have left over for variable expenses. Variable expenses are the areas you spend money each month that change – groceries, entertainment, gas, clothing and gifts, for example.
Now, list your variable expenses on your budget sheet. Think carefully about how much you plan to spend on each variable expense, trimming your expenditures as much as possible to cut your spending. Write this target amount down beside each variable expense entry. For example, if you think $300 a month on groceries is doable, write this amount beside the “grocery” entry.
Grab one jar for each variable expense and stick labels onto them. For example, you might label your jars “Groceries,” “Gas,” “Clothing,” “Entertainment,” “Gifts” and “Emergencies.” Add two more jars labeled “Debts” and “Savings.”
Divide each monthly variable expense by four to figure out roughly how much money you will have each week to spend on this expense. For example, if you plan to spend $300 per month on food (300 divided by four equals 75). You can spend about $75 per week on good stuff to eat.
Fill each jar with the amount of money you figured for weekly spending. For example, you would put $75 in the grocery jar.
Take money out of the jars to fund your spending through the week. At the end of the week, if you have any money left over in the jars; transfer it to the “debt” or “savings” jar. If you spend all the money in a jar, you have two choices – either put the brakes on your spending or borrow money from a different jar.
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- Once you start monitoring your spending, it’s likely that you will spend less money. If you find that you don’t spend as much on groceries as you allotted yourself, transfer the unspent money to your debt jar as much as possible to pay down your debt. At the end of the month, take the money out of the debt jar and apply it to a credit card bill, personal loan or your mortgage payment.
- Debt-Free Forever: Take Control of Your Money and Your Life; Gail Vaz-Oxlade
- Money Doesn't Grow on Trees; Julie Ellis
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