Spreadsheets, Envelopes, and Clouds - Oh My
I have always been a budgeter. This could have something to do with the fact that I am also an organizer. I like to plan, I like knowing that everything is in place, and I especially like knowing when and where the plan ends. If you’re like me, it’s really difficult to be productive when the goals and objectives are...fuzzy.
My first budget involved the use of a colored spreadsheet. Thank goodness for Excel, right? I would use this spreadsheet to organize all of my recurring bills each month and would constantly analyze and reconcile this with my hourly income and bank statements. I had specific amounts set aside for things like groceries, gas, activities, and food (or as I like to call it, takeout). After filling in all of the cells where every dime was allocated towards expenses, what I had “left over” was my savings. Like many, I have one checking account and one savings account with my bank. Lumping all of my expenses into one account and then doing the same for all of my savings never really worked well for me. This lacks inspiration and motivation and introduces decision fatigue (this is a real thing). I often thought that there had to be a better way.
I started using the envelope system specifically for my longer term saving goals. As you can see from the picture below, I would create an envelope for each of the things I wanted to save money for: emergency fund (aka rainy day fund), vacation, sister’s bachelorette party, and Christmas presents. I noticed how much more motivated I was to save after having decorated the envelopes. I would write the goal amount in big numbers and keep a ledger directly on the envelope as I put my hard earned cash into those paper pillows. Little by little and very steadily, these envelopes would get thicker! I was reaching my goals with no surprises and no stress. Best of all, I was completely prepared when it came time to spend the money and the organizer in me was very, very happy.
Have you ever had your purse, wallet, or backpack stolen? Have you ever had your purse, wallet, or backpack stolen with your funded envelopes inside? I have. It is a terrible situation with a hard recovery (I’m going to write a separate post on how this happened and how to recover from such a loss, so check back soon). As well as the envelope system was working for me, its safety and security fell short and it hurt. This was an eye opener for me and made me desire a similar system without the need for actual cash.
When I was introduced to Money Clouds™, I realized almost immediately that it was exactly what I wanted and needed! After having used the platform now for almost a year, I am completely hooked. It has completely replaced my savings account at the bank and I find myself saving so much more than ever before. I have scheduled automatic deposits into each of my Clouds and don’t even have to worry about cash, envelopes, or reconciling a spreadsheet or ledger.
It’s safer, organized (my favorite), visually motivating, simpler, and fun. I think it will be for you too.