Friday, September 02, 2011

Do You Realize What This Means? It Means Bankruptcy and Scandal and Prison! That's What It Means! One of Us is Going to Jail... Well, It's Not Gonna be Me!

I lose things all the time. I lost my keys back in April. I still haven't found them. It actually worked out great because it was after I gave the apartment keys back to the landlord and before Drek gave me the keys to the new house. So I only lost my car keys. Actually, Drek still hasn't given me a key to the new house. He thinks I will lose it.

I love those front doors that have keypads on it, so you don't have to carry a key around. It's great, but not ideal. My dream home would have a voice recognition lock for the front door, so I don't have to have a key or fiddle with a code.  I would come home and say "open." And the door would unlock and swing wide open for me. And the house would say "Welcome home, K La. You left your phone in the kitchen. You have three missed calls. Shall I call them back for you?" 

That house would rock. 

But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is savings; In January Drek and I sat down to do some major budgeting. We decided get rid of all credit cards, only use debit cards for emergencies, and switch to a cash-in-envelopes system. I love this system. It has worked out well for us. The point was to make money a real, tangible thing; If you have the bills sitting in your hand you can spend them, but when it's gone, it's gone. At the start of each month I take the envelopes to the bank and withdraw cash to put in the envelopes and use the cash for the rest of the month. Our envelopes are labeled "Gas Money", "Groceries", "Water Bill" and such. My favorite envelope says "Cruise Fund" and it works like this: At the end of the month, if I have extra money in any of the envelopes, say because I was so good on my grocery budget, or we went under on our water bill, I take the extra money and put it into the "Cruise Fund" envelope. If I go over in any area, I have to take money out of the "Cruise Fund" envelope. The point being that at the end of the year, if Drek and I have saved enough money in our "Cruise Fund" envelope, we get to go on a cruise! It's a great incentive to stay within the budget and keeps me optimistic about future vacation plans. 

Because this envelope gets the extra from all the other envelopes, it has a lot of one and five dollar bills in it. The envelope was getting quite fat because of this, so yesterday I decided to take it, along with all the other envelopes, with me to the bank, where I could get the smaller bills turned into bigger bills. 

Mornings are always hectic and after throwing everything in the car and dropping Drek off at work, I went to the grocery store with our bank located inside. I grabbed all the envelopes and took them inside with me. The bank didn't open for another ten minutes, but I couldn't wait because I had to meet people at the park in ten minutes. I threw the envelopes back in the car and drove to the park. I was early, so I thought that I better sort the envelopes. It was then that I realized I was missing the "Cruise Fund" envelope, with all the cash that I had scrimped and saved over the last nine months still inside. I panicked. 

I searched through the whole car. I drove back to the bank and looked around the parking lot and under cars. I went back inside and talked to the guy. I talked to the teller (the bank was now open). My envelope was nowhere to be seen and there was nothing I could do to reclaim the lost money. I described the envelope to the teller and explained what the money represented. She was very sympathetic and said she'd keep an eye out for it (or anyone depositing money from an envelope with with pink writing on it) but there was really  nothing she could do. 

I got back in my car and tried to calm myself down. After thinking things through, I decided to drive back to my house to see if the envelope had fallen out in the garage or on the way to the car. I went home and looked all over; no envelope. I then looked up where we keep all the envelopes and there it was: I had never taken it out of its spot. 

I sighed a huge sigh of relief and very carefully took the envelope to the car. I drove back to the bank and took it up to the teller.
 "You found it!" she cheered, when I showed it to her. 
"Yes, Thankfully." I said. "Can I turn these into bigger bills?" 
The teller looked at me and with a shy smile asked "Do you want to deposit it into a savings account? I'll keep it safe for you until the end of the year." 

So that's what I did. It isn't keeping the Cruise Fund tangible, but it does keep me from losing it, and that's a bit more important right now.  We'll still budget the exact same way, the only difference being that now I'm taking money out of the envelopes and handing it to a teller. 


  1. Will you be mad if I admit that I was worried about you losing cash when you switched to this system? I wasn't terribly worried, but it was a concern.

    I'm really, really, REALLY glad that you had just left the envelope at home. I thought this story was going a completely different route.

    Perhaps if you took the money and put it in a savings account, then put monopoly money in the envelope to replace it? That way there's still a tangible thing for you to hold and look at...

    Mind you, that wouldn't work for me. Monopoly money is fake and doesn't hold the same meaning as real bills.

  2. I can't believe how much less we spend using the envelope system! It really is bringing financial peace. I actually bought a small clutch purse to use as a wallet because my envelopes fit right into it. It's also harder to lose!

    My dear Arf lets me keep the envelopes except for his spending money and gas for his car. I feel like a miser as I dole it out a little at a time, but yesterday I handed him a $100 bill for groceries and it was a good feeling. (beginning of the month, you know?)
    I got most of it back, too!

    I hope you do get to go on your cruise. We went to his graduation last month in a different state and did not have to "justify" bringing out the credit card. It was awesome! No cruise for me though--my travel savings is earmarked "see the grandchildren." You're never too old to change--but the smart ones start young like you!


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