“Keeping a Lid on Our Budget,” Ensign, Feb. 2006, 70–71
Because it seemed convenient, my husband and I once used our ATM cards for all our expenses, storing the receipts in our wallets until they bulged. Eventually we tallied these random expenses in our bank book, but not before our budget had been damaged. Since we weren’t using credit cards, we rationalized that it was OK to spend more than originally planned, thinking we had enough funds in the bank. When we occasionally bounced a check, we resolved to do better, but we never stayed within our budget until we stopped using ATM cards.
For some families, misusing these cards wouldn’t be tempting; for us, they were too easy, too available. So we reverted to an old-fashioned money-management tool: tracking our budget funds in fruit jars. Based on our past expenses, I selected a few categories, then labeled some empty jars accordingly: “groceries,” “diapers,” “gasoline,” and so forth. With each paycheck, after paying tithing and major bills, we cash enough money to fund our respective jars with predetermined amounts and store them in a secure location. We don’t consider the possibility of losing the money a big risk considering the substantial amount we often lost previously to surprise ATM fees and overdrawn penalties.
Certainly other substitute tracking methods can be used: envelopes, boxes, computer software programs, to name a few. The glass-jar method helps our young children to see how our money is saved and spent. Another bonus—one of the jars holds leftover change, affording us occasional treats and fun family outings.
Lorraine D. Jones, Powell Valley Ward, Mount Hood Oregon Stake