52 Week Money Challenge

Hello again! In yesterday’s post, Envelope Budgeting, I talked about my budgeting strategy and how it’s worked for me over the past few years. In it I mentioned the 52 week challenge envelope. This envelope has been my Christmas money fund for the past 3 years because it’s money you hardly notice is missing but it ends up being a substantial amount in the end. The concept behind it is simple and the timing is perfect with the new year starting tomorrow.

Get another envelope for this money, deposit it into an account you don’t really use, put it in your safe, whatever you prefer. The first week of the year, you’re going to set aside $1. The next week, deposit $2, then $3, and so on. Every week you’ll add an extra dollar to what you’re setting aside, but the most you ever take from your income/budget is $52 in one week. (Don’t worry, there’s a visual at the end of this post.) This adds up to almost $1400 in savings!!!!

Now, I waitress so my income fluctuates. The system that has worked best for me has been to get my envelope and write out the numbers 1-52 on the outside. If I have a really good week at work, I put one of the higher amounts into my envelope and check the amount off as I go. For weeks that don’t turn out as well, that’s what I save the lower amounts are for. I also start my envelope the week after Black Friday so that it’s complete by the following Black Friday and I’m ready to start my Christmas shopping. You can tweak the system in whatever way benefits you.

You can also use this system for anything. Planning a vacation and don’t want to max out the credit card with your spending money? 52 week challenge. Planning a renovation? 52 week challenge. Just want to save $1378 without thinking about it? 52 week challenge. This envelope can be used towards whatever you personally need to save for. It’s just a simple, great way for you to consistently add money to savings with an end date of when you can use it. That way you’re not borrowing from it throughout the year.

Especially since I dropped down to part time, this money saving technique has been a lifesaver for me around Christmas time. I refuse to max out the credit cards to keep up with the latest and greatest toy craze of the year. The one thing I have to work on is making my Christmas list for everyone and budgeting how much I spend on each person. That has been my weakness up until now.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this post and this system works for you. Feel free to comment and let me know what strategy you’re using. I love learning new money saving techniques.



Envelope Budgeting

money heart

I have waitressed and bartended for almost 13 years now. As food industry workers, most of us share a common dilemma. We make a decent living, but we have no idea how to budget it. The end result is having poor credit and nothing saved. It’s a shame.

A few years ago, I started a new job. For the first month we were training, therefore, I had to rely solely on my checking account to get me through. Luckily I had just received my income tax return and had that to live off of. I took the initiative and paid the following month’s bills ahead of time since I had no idea what our income would be once the place opened. This is one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made.

I found an article on Pinterest about the envelope budgeting system. I went to the bank, asked for a few envelopes, and went home to fill them out. Each bill got its own envelope. At the top, I wrote how much that bill was per month, then divide by 4 and wrote how much I needed to put in there each week. By adding up the weekly totals on each envelope I now knew exactly how much I needed to make each week to get by. And exactly how much of what I made was extra and could be put towards either savings or frivolous purchases. NOW… I am always a month ahead of where I need to be. Everything I make this month is going towards January’s bills, so I never have an excuse to be late for a payment again.

I have tweaked this system to my own needs over the past couple years, and you can easily do the same. Not everyone has the same bills or gets paid the way I do. I include gas money, miscellaneous expenses, tolls, grocery shopping money, etc in addition to my normal bills. I have extra envelopes that I have to fill before I allow myself to make a frivolous purchase. These include a 52 week challenge envelope (more on that in the next post), a car expenses envelope, and a vacation week envelope. For me, the vacation week replaces what my tip income would have been had I been at work that week.  For you, it may just be vacation spending that doesn’t draw from your already budgeted money.

The January before my daughter started kindergarten, I decided that I wanted to be the mom that got her on and off the bus every day and could help with homework and cook dinner every night. This meant dropping down to part time at my job. I made an envelope for savings and budgeted that into my income from January to August. Every week, I needed to put money into that envelope just like it was a bill. In addition, that year I put my income tax return to good use and paid off my car a year early. That was one less bill that I had to account for.

By August, when my peanut started school, I had dropped down to part time, dropped my monthly bills almost in half, and had approximately $8,000 saved just in case my 3 days a week didn’t cut it. That money sat there for about a year without me needing to touch it. Then I chose to use part to take a phlebotomy certification course and the rest I used to pay for our wedding. The envelope system has worked so well for me that I didn’t even end up needing that back up for my bills.

Now, I’m going to be out of work when baby #2 arrives. There is a new envelope for savings so that the money I’m not making for those weeks is already accounted for before I take my leave of absence. This way, I’m still prepared and my bills are still paid so I can focus on my family when I need to.

Please understand, I have no financial background whatsoever. This is just the first system that ever worked for me and finally made me feel like a real adult. If it works for you, yay!!!!! If it doesn’t, I encourage you to try something else that fits your lifestyle or speak to someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Good luck! And please let me know what system has worked for you and your family.


Starting the New Year early!!!

Welcome to my blog!!!! I am so excited to be starting this adventure. This is supposed to be one of my (many) resolutions for the new year, but I figured now is the perfect time to begin. Why wait for January 1st?

This blog is going to focus on who we are as women. Too many times my identity gets wrapped up in being my daughter’s mother. Please understand, I’m not complaining. That little girl changed my life and led me down the best possible path. But, I’d kind of like to have an identity again, too.

Topics will include budgets, cooking, parenting, finding time for you, date nights, how to do it as a single parent (I’m not there anymore, but I did it for 4 1/2 years, and you can too), along with anything else that happens to come up. I’ll try my best to be funny, upload posts consistently, and stick to subjects you’re interested in.  Please feel free to leave suggestions and comments regarding posts.  I can’t improve without feedback.

Enough about the blog, here’s a little about me.  I was born and raised along the Jersey shore. I was on my own at 18 and worked for everything that I have. At 28, I had my daughter and, knowing I was going to be a single mom, moved to western PA to be closer to my mom.  Four years later, I met the love of my life. We were just married this past September and we’re expecting our first baby together in May. I work part time at a job that I’m pretty great at but don’t love and I’m always looking to try new fields of expertise and learn new things.

The goal is to post every single day for the year. Please keep in mind, we’re expecting baby #2, so I may falter on that slightly, but that’s the goal.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and lucrative 2016 for all of us!  Thank you for reading.