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Show your money who’s mom

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Guest Blogger Jenna Hallock moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado 10 years ago, right after marrying her favorite man in the world, Mark. Her two other favorite people are daughter Zoe, age 7 and son Elijah, age 4. Love, peace, joy, and kindness are the foundations for her life. She loves to laugh, and she doesn’t have to look far for a giggle with the chaos the four of them bring to the world!

(Stock photo by emsago)

What I am about to confess to you is very embarrassing. I realize I’m confessing out of my own free will, but that somehow doesn’t make it better. I received a check in the mail yesterday for a good deal of money. It was from our previous mortgage company. I was both excited and suspicious when it arrived. Mostly because it was the third check we’ve received from them since closing that old loan and refinancing our home in December.

I decided to call someone who is much more intelligent with these things than I am: our mortgage broker. After having a good laugh with me about the debacle, she asks, “You didn’t have the account on auto-payment, did you?” Apart from an error on the side of the mortgage loan company, she could not think of any other reason why they would be sending us check after check.

I laughed back at her and said, “I think we’d notice if THAT much money was moving out of our account on top of our new mortgage payments!” Or would we…

I’m no financial wizard (obviously) because as it turns out, she was exactly right. How in the world we have been paying two mortgages for three months is beyond me! (The punch line, just to be clear, is that the mortgage company was trying to pay me back for these unnecessary payments, but I didn’t know what to do with the checks!) But it reminds me of a fact that I have always believed to be true and now I have concrete evidence (no matter how ridiculous it may be): you will always spend what you have. Are you a mom and the financial manager of your house too? If you are then you know how stressful this is… I’m getting wrinkle lines just thinking about it.

Here’s what I mean. If that money had been sitting in my checking account, I surely would have spent it on something else. I would have made a mental note and said to myself, “Oooo, I should go buy such and such this month since we have the extra money.” This also validates the saying I’ve heard time and again, ALWAYS PAY YOURSELF FIRST. If you automatically deposit money into some kind of savings account, you never see it and therefore never miss it! Before you know it, you’ve saved up for the vacation you’ve always wanted or started the college savings for your kids, or put away enough money to build a well halfway around the world.

If I’ve learned anything today it’s this: if you can live within your means, you can always find enough to save for something that really matters. Maybe it won’t be a second mortgage (believe me we won’t be keeping that up another month!), but it may be that date night you and your hubby are longing for. Don’t let your money rule you. Show it who’s mom.

How do you “mother” your money? Have you figured out other tricks that help you save instead of spend each month? Tell us about it!

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  • comment avatar Kagey April 8, 2010

    We are using a real budget this year for the first time since we got married. I am amazed at how much we are “saving.” When I know we’ll be reviewing how we did at the end of the month, I think before I spend.
    We are also using an envelope system for certain categories of purchases. For dining out and other entertainment, I put our month’s budget, in cash, in that envelope. When it’s gone, it’s gone and we can’t go out again until next month. It also reminds me that when we go out, there are multiple costs. It’s easy to forget to add in the babysitter, for example.

  • comment avatar JoAnn April 8, 2010

    We’ve used a budget for as long as I can remember.

    Anyway, a neat way to work down debt (whether it be college loans, car loans, or credit card bills) is the snowball method. Basically, you put your extra money toward a bill (for example, a car loan). You still make your payment every month, but you pay extra to get it down quicker (if you have an interest rate, etc…) Once you pay off the car, you STILL allot that car payment amount toward the next thing on your radar (For example, your second car payment). When that one is done, you still pay THAT monthly payment AND your old car payment amount toward the next thing…for example, your college loan. Now, you’ve got your monthly college loan already in your budget, but you’re putting two car payments worth of money toward it…and you’re not missing it from your budget, because you’re used to spending it anyway.

    It’s amazing how fast it snowballs (hence the name). I didn’t come up with this, and I can’t remember the name of the man who wrote about it.

    Anyway, when you’ve got those things knocked off your budget, you can really bump up your other things: savings, home improvement, trips, entertainment, etc.

    Of course, this only works when you have “extra money” to use, but every little bit counts, and that’s where the original budget really helps you get started. The sacrifices at first are totally worth the feeling of savings in the end!

  • comment avatar Lavender Luz April 8, 2010

    We use Quicken to track every dollar. Every charge and check is entered and it helps me feel like I know where the $$ is and where it needs to be.

    Plus, it helps me figure out if something’s not quite right, like if a magazine subscription suddenly appears on the credit card statement. Quicken helps you build a budget, too.

    It’s great for control freaks like me.

    Congrats on your windfall!

  • comment avatar JoAnn April 8, 2010

    I’m just popping back in to second Lavender Luz’s Quicken reference. We LOVE that program and have been using it for years.

  • comment avatar Jenna Hallock April 8, 2010

    Thanks for all of your additional great ideas! Kagey, we did the cash envelope system for a LONG time – it really (I mean REALLY) helps you to not only keep track of your spending, but get a visual on how quickly money can be gone!

    Studies have shown that people who use cash spend significantly less than people who use “plastic.” It is much more tangible!

    Lavender Luz, I’ve never gotten the hang of Quicken, but I have friends who use it and love it too. Maybe I should take a class… you are right that being able to see possible errors (and those sneaky yearly charges – a la magazines) is of real benefit!

    And Joann, I too have heard of the snowball trick you are talking about. I think I’ve heard it by both Dave Ramsey ( and Mary Hunt in Debt-Proof Living (

    Great thoughts!

  • comment avatar Danielle April 8, 2010

    I need to do the envelope system, but thankfully we have a budget for most areas. We also allow ourselves each a small amount to spend on ‘whatever we want’ each month. That helps us stay on track and not feel ‘deprived’
    The budget has changed our lives so much! One of our accounts is my sole responsibility(with x amount deposited each month). It’s responsible for the food, dining, clothing, miscellaneous items(gifts, haircuts, etc). I keep widdling down each area(being sure to allow some wiggle room so I keep at it) when I can. When I first started I wasn’t responsible for the dining out budget, but because I cut back in our grocery expenses I was able to pick that up. I’m pretty sure in a couple months I’ll be taking on the gas budget as well! It’s such a challenge, but so motivating! This allows us to give more, save more, and enjoy more!
    Another thing I’m working on this spring is decluttering and really asking myself ‘do I really need this’ in every room of our house. I’m thinking a big garage sale is in the future. I want things simple and clutter free which will same me time(less to clean) and money(because I’m not buying unnecessary things and I’m selling what I don’t need/use)!
    Thanks Jenna!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson April 13, 2010

    Good gracious. Here’s my confession: my husband handles all our finances. Not because of any kind of power trip but because I hate doing it. This great post is a reminder that I need to get more involved.

    So I can figure out just how clueless I am. 🙂

  • comment avatar Angela April 15, 2010

    I recently started a savings account where for every debit card transaction that I do on my checking account, $1 goes into the savings account. I started with $100 last week and I’m up to $112 now. I use my debit card for EVERYTHING. I rarely have cash in my wallet anymore.

    Once I reach $200, I’m going to transfer $100 to my son’s 529 college savings plan and start building it back up again.

    As for personal savings, I transfer money into my husband’s account and he saves it for me. He is the saver of the family. I blow through money very quickly.

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