Sunday Night Meetings

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on November 5, 2009

It’s time to introduce you to Steve.

Hi, Steve! {Everyone wave}

Hey everyone!!! {Steve waving back}

Steve is “The Hubs.”  Back when I started this adventure, it was common practice to not name family members for security purposes.  But that has changed for us now.  Since his name is forever etched onto the first page of the cookbook, I figured it was high time for an e-introduction.

Steve appears here and there.  I try to share his “reactions” to the meals.  Whenever they are good!  Of course. Like “oh my goodness, this soup tastes like that stuff we had at the Wolfgang Puck restaurant in the St. Louis airport.”

I digress.

Sunday Night Meetings

What are they?

Every Sunday night, Steve and I meet to talk.  We have a short devotion and prayer time.  We talk about the events on the calendar for the upcoming week.  We talk about who needs to do what. We talk about finances…current account balances, planning the week’s purchases, and a review of long term financial goals.

Why we do them?

Back in July I shared how I switched back to an “all cash” grocery shopping strategy after spending the first half of the year shopping at Walmart on the gift cards that I won.  In September, we decided it was time to go “all cash” for EVERYTHING.  And by EVERYTHING, I mean everything! (We do keep a debit card for online purchases, such as airfare.  That’s about all we need it for!)

By sitting down together each week, we are able to stay within our budget and achieve our long term financial goals. One week at a time. 

How the meetings have helped us manage our finances?

When we both “see” what is in our accounts each and every week (instead of imagining or guessing without knowledge of what the other has spent/is spending!), we can plan what and how much we will need to spend on groceries, gas, repairs, and other miscellaneous needs.  We also anticipate “major” purchases and decide when the best time to make those purchases.  No impulse spending allowed!!! 

Being proactive and involved in our finances on a weekly basis has helped us stay focused on our long term financial goals, be accountable to each other with our spending, and to really evaluate what and how wer are spending our money each week.

I will say.  I was a bit hesitant at first. I kinda liked “guessing” how much money we had.  Ignorance is bliss, right?

Not when it comes to finances!  I can now say that Reality is Bliss.

Once I got past the “oh this is gonna be really hard” part, I find that there is no other way for us to meet our long term financial goals than to have these weekly “check-ins,” and to stay accountable.

Plus: We’ve just added a new feature.  The “parenting” feature!  We take a few minutes to talk about what the kids are up to, how we’d like to handle certain things.  Having a plan ahead of time really helps when you’re “in a bad behavior moment”!!!

Basic communication.  That’s all our meetings are.  But I know how easy it is to lose that basic communication in this hyper-speed world that we live in! 

I share this to encourage.  To let you know what is working for us.  And I hope you find this concept useful!

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie November 5, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I also do the “cash for everything too.” I love it!! It is very freeing to know that you have the money you are spending and how much you have. I don’t know why I ever used a credit card to begin with.
To stay ahead, you have to plan ahead and for us that works. It does get a litttle getting used to but after a few months I wondered why we didn’t do this sooner


Susie's Homemade November 5, 2009 at 7:41 pm

My husband and I do our finances together every week. Also, we do a yearly check in…”how is the marriage going?” It’s our way of staying plugged in:-)


Holly November 5, 2009 at 8:37 pm

What day’s are the best to find coupons in the Newspaper? Is Sunday the only day. We don’t get the paper. And i keep forget to get it on Sunday. UGH. I might just need a subscription.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom November 5, 2009 at 9:30 pm


Sunday is the only day that coupons are released. I suggest getting a subscriptions because not all “newsstand” papers contain all the coupon inserts!


vickie November 5, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Thank you for all you and “the hubs” do for us out there in the computer world…..maybe if I had done this 48 years ago, might still be married. Communication is so important nowadays. May God bless you and yours.


Becky L. November 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Erin, thanks for sharing what you and your husband do to communicate after your week and spending. Very rarely did we do that when we were younger and smaller children. We did find time fore each other though. We now have Friday lunch dates since I don’t work that day and he works swing shift. We don’t see each other alot during the week. It’s our one time we can sit and talk without hurrying. Also do it on Sunday evening but sometimes it more hurried if we are going somewhere. 99% of the time its at Subway both times cuz they have great sandwiches and lots of healthy choices. It’s our 2nd dining room! I’ve also started buying groceries and other purchases as well with cash. It’s amazing how much tighter I hold onto the cash cuz that’s all I have. I don’t have a huge amount with me but have a very good idea how much I’m going to spend and don’t go over that amount. Payday is still a week away and we still have money in the bank! :0) Take care!!


Katie November 5, 2009 at 10:43 pm

With paying cash for everything, how do you handle things such as electric bill, cell phone bill, etc?


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom November 6, 2009 at 10:29 am


We have those set up on bill pay from our checking account, so the cash just flows electronically, as if it were cash.


Elizabeth November 5, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Using all cash for groceries happens to be my latest goal– I just made that decision this past week. Our family’s challenge is to eat out of the pantry (except for milk and creamer) for the next two weeks to kick start our grocry savings plan. Our grocery spending has been through the roof, consistently twice what I budget. Plus meals out! INSANE! We just had twin girls in September and I am anticipating going back to work only part time with the goal of being home full time in the future. Saving on groceries is our first step toward making that happen. Sticking to our spending plan is the next. Those weekly meetings sound like a great idea. I think we will try that too! Thanks for all the great recipe ideas-this site is a blessing!


Melissa November 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Loving the new look!


Maria November 6, 2009 at 1:12 am

Well hello Steve! What a good idea. I am in the ignorance is bliss stage. I don’t know if I’m ready for accountability. My husband doesn’t care what I spend so I need to do this for me!


Allean November 6, 2009 at 8:41 am

Thanks for your insightful post about marriage, communication and marriage….:-)


Seth @ Boy Meets Food November 6, 2009 at 8:45 am

I really like your idea of sitting down once a week to discuss everything (and also Susie’s recommendation of the marriage discussion), but I would like to ask… why not use credit cards?

I am on the opposite side of your situation. I use my credit card for EVERYTHING. As long as you are very vigilant about keeping track of things (exactly as you do with the cash budget), then there is very little difference. The advantages are two fold: 1. all of your purchases are already compiled in one list for you at the end of the month, which makes review simple. 2. REBATES! With my card (which isn’t necessarily the best out there) I get 1.25% back on ALL purchases, and 5% back on gas. That is applied directly to my bill every month. So, I put my utilities, and every single thing I buy on there. I usually get about $40/mo. back… Anyway, just a suggestion.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom November 6, 2009 at 10:26 am

@Seth @ Boy Meets Food,

We tried the rewards thing. Didn’t really work. We’d spend more so we could get the rewards. But we were spending more than we needed to. So we quit.

Cash is emotional. You have to part with it. It means more when you are spending cash than using plastic! You are forced to think about it rather than just run up a bill that you might not be able to cover at the end of the month!!


Seth @ Boy Meets Food November 6, 2009 at 10:33 am

@Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom,
Yeah, I try to stay away from the rewards for the most part. I just stick with the rebates. So, essentially, I get a 1.25% discount on every single thing I purchase. I do see your point though about cash being more emotional. I probably am a little more likely to make extra purchases when I use my credit card. My wife and I are just really good about keeping track of that stuff though, so it has worked well for us. I guess there really isn’t a perfect solution that will fit everyone. Everybody is different, and different plans will work better for different people.


Seth @ Boy Meets Food November 6, 2009 at 8:47 am

Oh, I want to throw out one more tip…
I know you frequently shop at Kroger. You may know this already, but I just realized the other day that you get double gas points when you buy gift cards. A $50 gift card gives 100 gas points, which means 10 cents off on your fill-up. You could make use of that regardless of the cash/credit topic. Anyway, I was excited about discovering that… thought I would share.


Chelle W. November 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

I have a question for you– after you decide the amount of money you will need after each weekly meeting, does one person go to the bank and withdraw X number of $ for the week? I am curious as to how that works– I am seriously contemplating changing to a cash only basis as the debit card is just so “easy” to whip out and swipe for all of our purchases (including impulse buys).

Also, how do you figure Christmas, birthdays, etc into the budget?


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom November 6, 2009 at 10:24 am

@Chelle W.,

Yes. We each go to the bank and pull out what we need on Monday mornings. We have separate budgets for holidays/birthdays, but are in constant communication so we can decide what to get and how much we’ll need to take out for those purchases.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom November 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

@Chelle W.,

I pull out all the money I anticipate needing for the week. And yes, it is easy to whip out the plastic!

We have separate budgets for gifts and pull out $$ when we need it to cover gifts costs.


Susan Thompson November 6, 2009 at 10:14 am

I need to do something like this. I have been feeling disconnected from hubby for a while. Just in the busyness of raising 4 kids and his work stress. I just hate that i’d have to be honest with him about what i really spend as i’m the only one spending…but i’m sure it would help us be connected and stronger as a couple, plus hoelp with our communication. I think i’ll share the post with hiim tonight.


Andrea @ Mommy November 6, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Hi Steve :)

Thanks for sharing this Erin, I’m sure it will be an ecouragement to many folks who read you everyday!!!

And, I am loving the new feel. I really want thesis…now I just may get it!


Annette November 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Thanks for the website, Erin, I really like it and visit often.

Does anyone who spends cash ever have money leftover at the end of the week? Do you find that it’s easier to spend the leftovers since it’s already withdrawn and accounted for? My problem is, once I plan on spending the money and withdraw it, then I am more tempted once I’m in the store to find something to spend the money on, even if I don’t really need it and I could get away with spending less. That’s why I use credit cards and just rely on my tightwad nature. Everything leftover at the end of the month goes into savings at the click of a mouse button with online banking. (Plus we have automatic withdrawals twice a month from checking to savings.)


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom November 6, 2009 at 4:23 pm


I haven’t had that problem. I generally know exactly what I need for the different things, so don’t usually end up with too much leftover. If I do, I tuck it into another part of my wallet and save for next week. You could also take it out of your wallet and keep it in a safe place in your home :)


Allie Zirkle November 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

@Annette, We moved to a cash based system about 3 months ago. I know my husband feels the same way you do- if I have it, I’ll spend it. That mentatlity goes away after almost 2 weeks (1 pay cycle for us) when there’s no money left in the wallet and there isn’t a card handy. He had to borrow lunch money from a buddy because of the predicament. Trust me, it hasn’t happened again. I find myself spending less because “what if a good deal pops up on Weds and I can’t stockpile because my cash is gone?” or “what if a girlfriend invites me to lunch and I have to brown bag it? I’ll keep the $10 in my wallet instead”.

We actually switched to 100% cash, sending payments via money order. It was a hilarious process (imagine handing $3,000 to a walmart cashier for the “fixed” expenses!!). It meant addressing envelopes, logging items in our cash register (converted check register), etc. It meant cashing a payroll check to get the cash. Have you tried that recently?! WOW! Is it tough! Apparently banks don’t want to part with their cash either… (now we are using bill pay, but we wanted to shock ourselves, taking ourselves out of our comfort zones!! Boy did it work!)

It took some time to settle in, but it jumped started our financial talks. I’ll be taking Erin’s advice to set up weekly meetings. We do biweekly, but I think a weekly meeting would enable better visability on the day to day cash purchases and help keep our eyes better pointed on our longer term goals…



Craig November 10, 2009 at 3:44 pm

My wife and I just started “Financial Peace University”, developed by Dave Ramsey. It has changed our lives. We deal in cash only. We made a budget. We work with the envelope system, which our grandparents used to do. We started with $1000 in an emergency fund and got rid of our credit cards. The cash we withdraw for the pay period is divided into envelopes, such as groceries, gas, dining out, etc. We leave them in a strong box at home. We only carry the gas money. This way, if we stop to eat out. We replenish the envelope when we get home. Once the envelope is empty, that’s it. We do not borrow from any other envelopes unless it is for gas or groceries.
Since starting, we are more relaxed and worry about money less. Last weekend, I had to unexpectantly replace 2 tires. At first I panicked, but then my wife reminded me of our emergency money. Problem solved. No credit card debt and no money shortage.
We only wish we did this sooner in our marriage. The bottom line is that this is all common sense stuff.
If you visit Dave Ramsey’s web site, check out the 7 baby steps. These alone will get you started on your way.


Rachel November 6, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Thank you for the great idea! I am going to talk to DH to see if this is something we can incorporate.


Jessica Nunemaker November 7, 2009 at 10:45 am

Hubs and I just started really communicating about $$$ a few short weeks ago. What a difference that makes!

I definitely agree about only using cash — it makes parting with it SO much harder! Funny thing is, when we first moved to our small town, you could only use cash at one of the grocery stores! Oops. We were more than embarrassed having to leave the groceries and hit the bank. ;)


jolyn November 7, 2009 at 8:06 pm

This is what keeps a marriage going and what makes a good marriage great!

Do you even pay cash for gas? I totally see the psychological benefit of physically forking over the cash, but going IN to pay for gas? Which you wouldn’t be able to pay any less on anyway? At least, that’s how I see it…

I’m going to put this post on my next linky-linky post.:)


shannon November 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm

We do all cash also, and I love it. I like the idea of these weekly “meetings” and prayer and devotional time though… great idea!


Craig November 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Great advice. Since we started communicating weekly on our finances, we have been less stressed out and more in tuine with enjoying each other more.


ShonW November 10, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I love these ideas. Thank You so much ;>


April November 10, 2009 at 9:11 pm

We took the Financial Peace class (Dave Ramsey) in 2005. Paid off a car. Vowed to never again finance a vehicle. We cut up and closed all credit cards out. Ouch! That hurt!! We built up a savings of $13,000. We then bought a 2003 Honda Pilot with cash for $10,000 and started rebuilding our emergency fund. I use coupons. Shop thrift stores. etc. Someone said to me the other day, Yeah, that’s good and everything, but you should live and enjoy life a little! Well, we do. Our quality of life is so good because we aren’t worried about money. No, we aren’t taking fancy vacations, but we are a happy family that laughs together and eats dinners together. What truly matters?

Oh, thank you for the Sunday night meeting idea!! I want to start that!!


Lauren November 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

this sounds like such a great idea and i think it would really help me and my husband out! we are such a team but we both feel so overly stressed all the time and like we dont what the heck is goin on around here! ive always heard using the cash method is best but i have never done it but thinking of giving it a shot!! thank you


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