One of the most powerful techniques I’ve stumbled on as a Family CEO is the concept of found money, and each quarter I summarize our found money totals.
If you’re new to the updates, you can read more about found money here, but the important thing to know is that these are (often small) amounts of extra money (i.e. not part of our main source of income, my husband’s business) and we’ve given them each jobs to do.
The found money updates are broken down into two main categories:
- The money that found us
- The money we went out and found
Each of the summaries below will include detail and sometimes extra explanation about where exactly the found money came from.
We’re also using the found money method in my husband’s business. That section can be found at the bottom of this post.
So, here is the found money breakdown for the months of July, August, and September of 2013:
The Money That Found Us
The money that finds us is the money that simply finds it way into our wallets or checking account with no significant amount of effort on our part.
It’s made up of things like rebates, reimbursements, and cash back from the way we pay for things.
It’s the kind of money that you no doubt have coming into your life too. The key to making the most of these often small amounts is to decide on a job for this money and then start looking for it.
For us, this money has the job of beefing up our emergency fund.
Since the beginning of July, we were able to add $3317.50 to our emergency fund. Here’s where that came from:
- Rebate for dogs’ Heartguard preventative $24
- Anniversary money gifts $125
- Birthday money gifts $100
Our very generous parents (both sets) tend to write us birthday and anniversary checks as gifts. Those amounts go into our emergency savings.
- Study abroad housing deposit reimbursement $150
Pretty self explanatory. Sometimes I need reimbursements to cover the original expense, but many times – such as in this case – I have forgotten all about it and can add the reimbursement to the money that found us.
- Insurance settlement $2918.50
Back in April, 2012 my car was totaled in an accident. The accident was deemed not to have been my fault and the other insurance company accepted liability. I was expecting them to cover the cost of the car, which they did, but in the end they also reimbursed some other expenses related to the accident and added on a small settlement.
We debated what to do with this money. One logical place to have put it would have been against the new car loan, which we weren’t planning to take out until the accident occurred. In the end, however, we decided we’re pretty comfortable with our debt situation (mortgage + 1 car loan) and decided to treat this as found money and put it in the emergency fund. So there it sits.
Obviously, I can’t recommend a car accident as a source of found money; the accident cost us much more than we gained, which is often the case when you have an older, paid-for car. But since we’re treating the settlement as found money, I wanted to include it in this report.
The bottom line is that you just can’t predict how money will find you.
Total added to our emergency fund from the money that found us = $3317.50
The Money We Went Out and Found
Some money doesn’t find us; we have to go out and find it. And that money goes toward paying for our daughter’s college expenses and saving for our son’s college (he’s a senior in high school this year).
Here’s what that’s looked like since July:
I earn a bit of money from the blogging and online work that I do and I put it into an account to offset my daughter’s college expenses. This quarter’s was a little lower than usual, in part because I paid to outsource some technical stuff.
I answered some of the common questions I get about blogging in this post. If there’s anything more you’d like to know, please feel free to leave a question in the comments.
Total added to college fund #1 from blogging = $1257.94
Note: In addition to The Family CEO, I have started a second, lifestyle blog around the topics of decorating, entertaining, thrift shopping, and a little travel. I’d love you have you check it out at Creating This Life, and follow me there if you have an interest.
I keep the books for two small family businesses and the small income I earn from this goes into college savings.
Total added to college fund #2 from bookkeeping = $2183.20
Found Money for Business
Last November I started using the found money method for my husband’s business. It has worked just as well there as a small business money management tool, as it has for us personally.
Total added to business savings account = $354.73
All sources of our found money together, totaled $7113.37 for July – September.
I’m reminded again that – while most of these amounts are small – they can add up to big things in our family’s finances.
Do you use found money or a similar system to pay off debt or build savings? What are your favorite sources of found money?