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Budgeting never came easy for us. Actually, nothing with money ever came easy for us. Our monthly financial talks were always stressful. Then we decided to try budgeting with multiple accounts.
A few years ago we took Dave Ramsey’s course, Financial Peace University. It’s an excellent course. Dave has money savings broken into “7 Baby Steps” and helps you set some financial goals. This course was the one that helped my husband and I get on the same page with money.
We didn’t learn about Dave Ramsey until after our unemployment and financial ruin. Dave Ramsey’s course is very good and it teaches how to use cash when you budget. Unfortunately, we didn’t succeed in following his way of budgeting.
However, we struggled to create a budget every single month and stick to it. We were able to create the budget and identify where we might have slip-ups, but we just couldn’t stick to it.
Envelope System Failure
We struggled to use the envelope system.
We did give it an honest try. Every month we would make the budget and then we would get the cash, but we only got enough cash for 1 pay period because we hadn’t gotten out of the point of living paycheck to paycheck.
This would lead to us failing to go back and get the cash for the second half of the month, which in turn led to us blowing our budget.
So we created our own way of budgeting with multiple checking accounts.
Before I explain how we ended up with 3 checking accounts, let me tell you how our monthly budget conversations would go. We really did try and have a monthly conversation about our budget and set a budget. But we ALWAYS went over and the boundaries we tried to set with the money always got broken.
Since we didn’t follow our budget this would lead to a huge fight and then we would cry. Fighting about money was always our number 1 fight.
Budgeting with Multiple Accounts
Then I decided to open up a checking account for myself and move money to that account to be used for groceries and gas and a little fun money for myself and the kids.
My husband wasn’t on board with that yet. Until one day when I was balancing the checkbook and I noticed that every single expense for a week was his dining out for lunch.
I called him at work and I calmly said, I don’t mind you dining out every day, but what I don’t want to know is where you are dining since I am at home eating PB&J. He laughed at this comment and understood completely why he needed his own checking account.
That is how we learned a new way of budgeting. We had our joint checking account and then we each had our own checking accounts.
Benefits of Multiple Accounts
Since moving to this form of budgeting, we are able to save MORE money. We not only save money from our own accounts, but we save more from our joint account since we don’t have to use that account. Additionally, we have money for clothes and shoes that we didn’t have before.
Since moving to 3 accounts, we save more. We each have enough money in our accounts to spend that we don’t feel deprived. We also don’t have to use the joint account except for expenses like clothing and haircuts.
There is significantly less fighting about money since we have our own accounts. We can decide if we want to save a little of our own money for something we may be keeping our eye on. Our most recent fight was about how we aren’t saving more money.
Joint Checking uses
We use the joint checking to pay for every living expense. It pays for the housing payment, electricity, gas, water and sewer, phones, cable & internet, and car and insurance. It also pays for the randoms like clothing and haircuts. We don’t purchase these things every month so we have that in the account for when we do need them.
Our individual accounts pay for stuff like gas, groceries, dining out during the week, and fun non-essentials things we may want from the store. (Think People magazine, I’m a sucker for celebrity gossip)
Since implementing this form of budgeting with multiple accounts, there is less stress about money. We know exactly how much we have and we are pleasantly surprised every month when we have more money saved.
Now we have been following this system for almost 3 years. We have all our other bills automated and it is SO NICE! It’s nice to see a little extra at the end of the month instead of $3 or $5 left.
If you are struggling to figure out your budget, maybe get a second account and see if that helps. Take all the daily debits out of your main account and see how you react. For us it was relieving to see that the account that paid for all our monthly items only had those debts. We could go days without checking the account and there wasn’t extra debt.
The one thing you can not do is transfer extra money to the other accounts when it isn’t planned. That is the rule my husband and I live by. We used the budget we made and figured out how much we could allow to each account. It took us a few months but once we figured it out, we haven’t had a real money problem since.
I would love to hear if you have tried something like this. Maybe you are unemployed and you don’t have a ton of money. Open a checking account anyway. Some banks actually pay you to open a checking account so this could be a way for you to start your budget with some free money!
It is easier to use accounts at the same bank so you can transfer between the accounts, but now transferring money have become so easy, do whatever works for you!
It isn’t easy creating a budget and sticking to it. Using multiple accounts significantly helped our budget and stay on track. I would love to hear if you have a different way of budgeting or if you try budgeting with multiple accounts. Sign up for my newsletter and send me an email!
Stephanie has been blogging at Sticky Note Mom for 8 years. Before starting her blog, she worked in the finance industry working on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade to working for major financial institutions with personal financial planning and the mortgage industry. Now she shares all she has learned about frugal living to help others learn how to stop spending and start saving more.