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My Money Went WHERE??

the joy of budgeting

About a year ago, my church went through Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey as a congregation. Almost everyone did it and we all paid off a ton of debt.
In the last year, I've really seen how I've spent most of my life not really paying attention to money and how I really use it. I've always had a large enough of an income to expense ratio that anytime I really messed up, I'd get myself back on plan within about a month. It was easy, mostly because I didn't have any debt except a small student loan (that I only have about $1500 left).
Two years ago, I bought a car. I love my car. It's a beautiful 2013 light silver Prius Plug-in. I bought it new. Stupidest financial decision I've ever made. I'm still upside down on the stupid thing because it hasn't retained its value the way that other Priuses (Priusii?) have. I'm paying more than I can afford on the loan, and paying insurance doesn't help my financial situation either. If I was still driving Lizzy (a 1995 Oldsmobile that my mom bought brand new), I would be in a much healthier financial situation. 
But that's entirely beside the point of this post.  Since I made this stupid error and have a car that I can only just make the payments on, I have to sort out how to make my budget work. Especially since selling it while I'm upside-down on it will leave me still owing money and with no car to earn income. (Cleaning and driving for Lyft and Postmates are my main sources of income until my business takes off.)
Doing FPU, I had to figure out a way to make my income work for me. I had to immediately stop all unnecessary spending. No more eating out, spending $10-15 on lunch or dinner. Movies were ok still but only because I was subscribed to MoviePass. Impulse purchases were out. I suddenly had to keep track of what I was spending where. 
It was really rough the first month or two while I figured out how to actually do a budget. The hard thing for me was that my income is really irregular. I have a couple steady jobs that make up about half of what I make in a month, but it's $20 here, $60 there, and it's all over the place. Plus, a lot of my pay is in cash, so I don't have a bank record of most of it. It makes it hard to budget when you don't know what your income actually is.
The way I figured it out is with an app called GoodBudget. It works a lot like Mint or some of the others, but it's completely manual. It doesn't sync with your banks and you're not putting in usernames or passwords or any other private information. Security isn't an issue. (They still have good security because you are putting in your private financial stuff, but nothing that will affect those finances.)
Dave Ramsey recommends using actual cash because you "feel" the money more. In other words, you actually see it leaving and it hurts more. I get the opposite: having cash make me feel like I'm richer than I am and I'm more likely to spend cash if it's there than whip out my credit/debit card for something. Vending machine? Sure, I got a dollar! But if I don't have cash, I don't buy it. 
GoodBudget works like a standard physical envelope system, except it's all digital. You create your envelopes, tell it how much money to put in each and then each time you spend, you take it out of the envelope. The free version gives you 10 envelopes and one account, but the paid version is only $5/mo ($45/year), and TOTALLY worth it.
I've made it work for me because each month I put all my income (minus my tithe) into a folder they call Unallocated. On the first of each month, I create my budget using the money that's in the unallocated envelope. It's really easy.
I love it because I have to DIY it. When I was using Mint, I liked some of their functions, but it wasn't necessary for my to log in and check it all the time. Because it automatically updated, I could never remember how much was in there after the outstanding and pending payments (like that car payment I scheduled for next week or a check for a parking ticket that the DMV hasn't cashed yet). So even with all their controls in place, I'd still managed to muff it. 
With GoodBudget, I have to do each transaction manually, which means that I input it into my phone while I'm still at the gas station or grocery store. I check it against my bank's records about once a week to make sure I haven't missed anything. Plus, that check that I wrote last month has already been taken out of the envelope, even if it hasn't been cashed yet. I know how much money I actually have rather than how much my bank says I have.
Plus the individual envelopes keep me on track with individual categories. The rent category gets filled first: everything else can get tossed aside as long as I have a place to live. Then my food budget and transportation budget. My clothing budget got fresh money put in last month for the first time since I started doing it. Until my birthday last month, the only thing I had spent out of that category was for laundry detergent. I treated myself to a new top for my birthday. (I did manage to convince my mom to buy me some new pants last year, but that was her money and didn't come out of my budget.)
Some categories don't get used all that much (Clothing or Personal Care) while others get depleted on a monthly basis (Rent and Food). Debt get cleaned out each month, and I'm trying to get to a point where I can actually build my savings.
Things are slim right now, but my head is above water, praise Jesus.
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