dave ramsey preaches the zero-based budget. personally, i highly recommend this idea.
the basic idea is that you “spend” all of your income on paper. when you receive your paycheck, write out where that money needs to go. the order i use is giving (or tithing), bills, sinking funds and cash envelopes. all are equally important, but my order goes from least flexible to most flexible.
for instance, we give a “non-negotiable” amount to our local church
next, our bills are mostly the same every month
then, we have our sinking funds and some are more flexible than others
and then our cash envelopes, and i’m the master fudging our grocery budget : )
subtract all of the above expenses from your net income and your number should be $0.00. thankfully, it’s not a super complicated idea.
it’s also not the only way to do a budget, it’s just our method of choice.
what is a sinking fund?
a sinking fund is a “savings account” that you deposit small monthly amounts for those large irregular expenses such as auto insurance, property tax, christmas, vacations, etc.
here is why i love sinking funds:
they save you money
we save over $200 each year by paying our car insurance in full every six months. if we didn’t use a sinking fund to save up for our car insurance, we would be unprepared to pay this larger amount and have to pay a more expensive monthly price.
they save you from stress
what? christmas is here already? i have seven immediate family members, six in-laws, one niece, four “adopted” family members and one husband. that’s a lot of presents! not to mention mailing out christmas cards, travel expenses, and a slew of other things i always forget that cost money around christmas time. because we save up for the expense of christmas all year round, it’s not nearly as stressful.
they keep it real
sure, it would be great to spend thousands of dollars on vacation every year, but realistically, we can only afford to save $40 per month toward a vacation, which totals up to $480 annually. we can still have a lot of fun with 500 bucks, and it keeps us from having unrealistic expectations for our vacations.
here’s a list of our current sinking funds: