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The Envelope System, Gone Digital

Today we're going to tackle the mystery of getting your EXPECTED expenses under control a little bit better. With anything this is a constant ongoing battle, that takes at least some of your focus a couple times a month. Want to buy a new iPhone, but don't casually have $2,000 laying around? Need new tires on your car, but not sure how to come up with $800 overnight? 

These are issues I fought with for years and continue to fight to stay on top of. They're not necessarily emergencies, but I feel like I'm loading up the credit cards I just paid down! We're taking a second look at how to take care of that little bit of extra money you have each paycheck.

The Envelope System

Most people know about this simple system we used as kids to organize our money into things we wanted to do vs things we needed to do, like paying bills or saving up for our starter car. That idea should easily transition into adulthood, but doesn't always translate well. With different emergency funds and fires popping up everywhere it seems like you can almost never get ahead. 

With a simple accounting system like the Envelop system we all grew up with all of this can become an easier burden to bear. Doesn't it feel great when you finally come to the end of paying off a new phone or get rid of that car payment you've been paying on for what seems like forever? It's nice to take a moment and feel that sigh or relief to not have that hanging your head, and you should enjoy that. After that initial shock of extra cashflow, going out to eat, enjoy a few nice games of bowling etc. it's time to get back on track. That doesn't just become free money and you never need to worry about getting another car again. This is the perfect time to start planning for the future.

The Nitty Gritty

Now that we've enjoyed our extra money and splurged a little on some nice things in life we need to begin preparing for similar future expenses and think ahead of our peers. At this point people use this extra money to buy a new laptop or finance a motorcycle, but we have different goals in life. We want financial comfort. We want to not worry about the next big expense when it pops out seemingly from nowhere. 

The way I currently plan for these expenses is to first decide how long that item might last me. I typically get 3 years out of my phones with a battery replacement, and 8-10 years out of vehicles with regular maintenance. Tires last around 40k miles depending, and that's 3 years with an average of 15k miles per year. Sometimes this stuff can take some research, but it's well worth it for the peace of mind you get in return. 

Now that we've figured out how long our replacement period is on our current items we need to figure out how much we're going to pay:
  • New iPhone: $1,500 / 36 = $42 per month
  • New Android: $700 - $1,200 / 36 = $28 per month
  • Tires on a car: $400 - $800 / 36 = $14 per month
  • Washer and Dryer: $1,000 - $3,000 / 96 = $16 per month
  • Kitchen Appliances: $3,000 - $8,000+ / 120 = $34 per month
  • Yearly Vehicle Property Taxes: $100 - $500 / 12 = $25
  • Total Monthly savings amount = $159
This above is just a small example of what can be accomplished by planning and staying discipline in your decisions. I currently group my expenses by the timeline they come due, but feel free to group however you feel comfortable! If you're saving for a new laptop, group that under your phones and tablets. You have so much freedom once you get your finances under control. All of a sudden buying a new washer and dryer set doesn't seem so expensive! Checking accounts and savings accounts are plentiful in this day and age. If you desire, open a new account for each and every expense you are tracking just be sure to check if there are monthly maintenance fees as that could come to bite you. Set all this up on autopay and forget it!

Now you have the power to take your finances back into your own hands and tackle some of the biggest expenses you've never thought possible. No longer will you need to rely on scary home warranty plans or auto warranty plans due to the fear of not being able to cover basic repairs. Take this new found financial knowledge and confidence and lead the life you want without all these unnecessary credit card fees and finance charges! Happy Spending!


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