advent conspiracy [spend less]: Inés McBryde

The first time I heard about Dave Ramsey, my husband was trying to drag me to one of his 13-week finance classes. I basically said “no way José”.  I thought I had a handle on “my money” and no one needed to “tell me what to do with it.” He insisted for months. Even took the class without me, and, during one very long road trip to Alabama, sneaked his “Super Savers” CD in the car. I was stuck with the man for 7 hours, so what could I do? I couldn’t kick and scream for 7 hours. So I listened. I chuckled. Then I laughed. Then I couldn’t hold back the smiles. I may or may not have snorted at some point. Dave was so funn-ay! And he was talking about…money? I let my walls down and gave the man an open ear.

If I could summarize Dave & his plans for your checkbook, I would say he challenges you to: Discipline & Surrender to God. For those who have never taken his course, he could be misunderstood when he says “Make All You can. Save All You Can. Give All You Can.” People sometimes get stuck on the “make all you can” and if you don’t listen to all his CD’s (especially the last one, “The Great Misunderstanding”), you may think he’s greedy. But the dude is INSANELY generous & wise.

One of the best things he’s taught me is the Envelope System and that’s what I want to share today because the previous posts about “spending less” are so informative already. Here’s my trick to spending less: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So I set limits. Boundaries. ‘Cuz this free spirit of mine can get in trouble if a store has a big sale…

My envelope system: I get hives if I leave home without it. I get a low-grade fever if I’m at the grocery store & realize I forgot the envelope cash at home. Basically, every month Rob and I tell our money where it needs to go. We know our priorities & we budget accordingly. So after we’ve given to the Lord as He has told us, saved, paid bills, then we pull out cash to spend for 2 weeks. If you were to open my purse right now, you can see the envelopes in my wallet titled: Groceries, Ines’s Play Money, Entertainment/Restaurants, Miscellaneous. (In no particular order).

Groceries: This is pretty simple. I try to budget healthy food and plan meals ahead of time so I don’t go crazy at the store. I also have noticed that sometimes I just go buy more food because it’s time to, but I still have food at home. So I try to push myself to use up the food in my fridge and freezer and be wise about that.

Ines’ Play Money: So yes, we budget play money. Rob and I get the same amount and this helps us find a middle ground. He’s the nerd and I’m the free spirit. Each of us gets to decide if we use it for a new pair of jeans or to go have coffee with a friend. It helps us relax because we ask much of ourselves (or we try) in the rest of the budget.

Entertainment/Restaurants: Rob and I are both friendly people (I think!). And before we had Nash, our cute toddler, we probably had more money in this envelope. We don’t go out as much together, but we budget for it. Especially as singles or couples without kids, it’s easy to go out every time someone invites you to. It was hard to say no! but even when the envelope was running low, we got creative. We would share a meal at the restaurant. They give you so much food anyways. And we’d stretch the $$$ that way, too.

Miscellaneous: Yeah. I just checked. There’s no money in that envelope. But we do budget for gifts throughout the year and also we plan ahead for Christmas.

So, you don’t have to have those above categories. We just observed where it was that we usually spent our money and gave ourselves limits. You set your own limits to the point that it hurts a little. The first year that we did this we refinanced our house, gave up car payments, bought used-cars, ate beans & rice, rice & beans for a while, and paid off around $100,000. You read that right. How do you like the envelope system now? 🙂 We are not debt-free yet, but are on our way.

Shameless plug: If you’re interested in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, there will be a preview class at Fellowship North on January 9 with classes starting Jan.23.


Today’s advent conspiracy post is written by Inés McBryde. She grew up in Nicaragua and is now part of our family at FN, along with her husband Rob and son Nash. Her father’s spanish-speaking congregation, Iglesia Betel, also meets at FN. Inés works as a medical interpreter at Children’s Hospital, leads Women’s Fellowship on Monday nights, prays beautifully over us in Spanish, and tweets.


This Christmas season at FN, we’ve decided to join into the Advent Conspiracy. As a part of celebrating together, we’ve asked several people to write about each week’s topic here on our blog. And we’d like for you to join in too: share your reactions, plans, or experiences in the comments. Or, if you post on your own blog, leave a link in the comments. Post pictures to our Facebook wall. Tweet us @fellowshipnorth. Let’s use our online space as a community – one that will conspire together this Christmas season!

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