Tony and I could be Mr. and Mrs. Goody Goody. We are, and have always been, rule followers. I'm the bigger offender. Tony laughs at me because I ask permission to do things that I know are allowed. (Like make retuns with the tags still on and receipt in hand 2 days after purchase. I'm always afraid I'm going to hurt their feelings.)
But, when it comes to money and budgetting, we break three major rules.
Rule 1- Don't use credit cards. Don't have credit cards.
We use credit cards, almost exclusively. Why?
1. We pay them off in full, and we can stick to our budget.
2. Getting cash in Panama is a bit of a nightmare. Setting up a bank account can take weeks to accomplish, and then we have to pay for wire transfers. Also, we can only transfer so much money before more tax implications hit. Using an ATM card would carry a 3% transaction fee each time, and it would require multiple trips to get the cash we needed for a week. (Panama maybe a "developing" country, but the cost of living is very American!)
3. The credit card reward programs are amazing these days. And since we don't go over budget, and don't pay interest on the balances, we make money from using credit cards.
Rule 2- Have a "blow money" amount in your budget.
This one is Tony's nemesis. According to Dave Ramsey, "Your blow money is a small account for a little bit of letting off steam." Aren't there better option for blowing off steam then spending money? Do people not blow enough money as it is? Starbucks, desserts, gum, little purchases here and there. I'm confident that my grocery budget takes plenty of "blow money" hits. Do you have a dining-out budget? That's money "blown," too. Until we can create a budget where only needs are ever purchased (not a want to be found in any category), we won't have a "blow money" amount. And on a similar point, just because we have money allotted doesn't mean we spend it all. Once Tony sliced all the categories by 10% because he felt like we were spending money just because it existed in the budgets. Money in your budget isn't going to expire. You don't have to spend it all.
Rule 3- Set Aside a Portion of Income to Give Away.
Surprised? This is one rule we tried for years. Beside the tithe, we would set aside an allotment to give as we became aware of needs. It has always been a huge failure for us. Just a few months ago, we figured out why: We need to be prepared and willing to give it all away. Not just the amount we figured would work for that month's budget. If God calls us to give, the answer must be "yes"- not "let me check the budget and get back to You." Some months we give very little beside tithe. Other months, I'm not certain where the money is going to come from, but it has always worked out. God wouldn't call us to give, and then leave us high and dry.
So, what about you? Are you a money rule follower? Or have you found breaking rules to be better for you?