Sunday, June 24, 2012


Our ward is having a Super Saturday in a couple of weeks. Instead of doing craft projects, they're having sessions where we get to learn things. Cool! I was asked to give a 25-minute lesson on family finances. Providing people sign up to take the mini-class, I will actually have to go through with this. I'm going to need something to say.

The hard thing about this is that I feel family finance is stuff people know, you know? Like, doesn't everyone know that outgo should be less than income? Maybe, maybe not. But even so, all of that is available on the internet, so what could I say that would be valuable?

And then I thought, "Hey erin, they asked you, so why don't you just say what YOU do when managing your household budget?" So I'm going to give you a short outline of what I think I'll do and if you don't mind, could you tell me what you think? If there's something you'd like to hear that I didn't cover, let me know. Or if you think this is totally lame, let me know that too. The lesson unfolds in three acts:

Act 1: No Money Left Behind. Every single dollar that comes into your house must have a plan as to where it's going. That means you need to know how much money you make every month (grab those pay stubs, people) and then you need to write down all the "needs" (tithing, mortgage/rent, McDonald's ice cream cones--duh), then all the "wants." But you should have a plan for where things are going. It's often heard in our house, "Chuck, no spending money until Monday because we have none." And yet, when Chuck checks the checking account, there are $200. But what Chuck doesn't know is that the $200 is earmarked for the Fios bill or the utilities or 200 McDonald's ice cream cones.

Act 2: Keep Track of Spending. How can you know if you've reached your limits on ice cream (well, this is kind of a dumb example because there's really no limit on this one) if you don't know how much you've spent? Just because I have $200 in my account, doesn't mean I can go buy 200 ice cream cones; it means I can afford to pay my gas and electric bill. Keep receipts and write spending down. Whether you do it in Excel, other electronic means, or just on paper. Keep track.

Act 3: Savings. In our house we have one savings account and everything goes into it. I keep track via spreadsheet (shoutout to Star! go spreadsheets!) how much is in each "purse." Examples of purses we currently have are: emergency fund, life happens fund, 10th anniversary trip fund, car fund, Christmas, etc. Examples of purses we used to have are: Lasik fund (still crying over this one, especially with my latest eye woes), maternity fund (for when I was out of work), etc. The point is, is that we intend to pay cash for everything. As soon as we finished paying off Chuck's car, we kept making a "car payment" to ourselves. So now, we have money to pay cash for the next car we need. And once we get that car, we'll keep making that payment. Or the 10th anniversary trip: we know we want to go, so we put a small amount of money in there so that in 2.5 years, we'll be able to do whatever we want (provided childcare exists). And the Christmas one? I don't know how people do this without saving! Again, a small amount of money each month goes into the account so that when December comes, we are able to afford the new Mercedes with a big red bow I'm getting Chuck (shhhh...don't tell!) Anyway, save. Pay in cash.

Whoa. I expanded much more than intended. To those in my ward who wanted to attend my class, feel free to skip it. But if you do skip, be aware that you'll miss the lovely Star do her organizing thing, so maybe you want to reconsider. That woman is a five-star, double black belt in organizing. Again, anything else you think should be here? For example, should I tackle debt reduction/elimination?

Re: This post's title. I'm not the only one who remember that old movie, "Short Circuit," right? Didn't Number 5 go around yelling, "INPUT" when it wanted answers to questions? Ah yes. My memory did not fail me.


  1. I feel the exact same way about this presentation. I feel like with Pinterest and the internet in general, what could I possibly have to say about organizing that hasn't been said over and over. I'm glad you posted this because I am bummed to miss out on your presentation.

    Oh and by the way Erin, you made me blush.

  2. Ref Act 2: Keeping receipts is very interesting. One thing our current mission president has done is KEEP every receipt he has ever had...just so he is able to track where the money goes, etc. Although we have not done it, we think it is really a great idea. Also, we think you should possibly discuss credit cards...never keep a balance on a credit card. We think your ideas are great but just wanted to offer these two additions. Mom & Dad

  3. Erin... I have lots of feedback for you. Watch for it via email. And you're amazing. And I don't get your reference.

  4. you got a mom & dad comment, too. lucky us!

    i think what you'll say is great. i mean, most people know the overall "spend less than ya make," but sometimes people think they are but they aren't. like us, sometimes! i think your 3 acts are great; i'd totally come if i was closer. . .

    credit cards: i put all of our credit card transactions in our checking account - just like if i had used cash (or a debit card). then we know exactly where we stand - nothing is ever on credit, really. when i get our credit card statement i just go into our record and cross it off there - my account balance stays the same because i had everything recorded already. maybe everyone else does this, too? if i make sense?

    i can't think of much else right now.