The sad truth is that almost every budgeting tool or software out there is missing a crucial element that is the most important factor in sticking with a budget.
Without it, instead of moving towards your financial goals, most of us end up failing with our budgets and continue to slide backwards financially.
1. Set up a simple system to maintain your budget and make sure you stick with it. And it's simple enough your spouse can even do it.
2. Create a system and schedule to pay your bills. Save hours each month with this and ensure you never miss a payment again.
And if you're new to budgeting it will also help you...
3. Figure out exactly where and how much you are spending (most think they know, but are very wrong) in under 10 minutes.
4. Determine how much to budget for groceries, household items, entertainment, etc.
5. Painlessly create a spending plan (aka budget) for your future spending. This saves hundreds each month for most people.
Each lesson shows in vivid detail exactly what to do - as if you and I are sitting down at the dinner table together.
But, if at any point you need help along the way, you can use the included Unlimited Email Consulting and ask us for help at any time.
Got more questions?
Perfect, I have a lot more answers below. To see the details of:
- How the method works
- The $60+ in bonuses included
- What other students have said
- And more
Just keep on scrolling!
We were both freaked out to see that after her 1st month of budgeting, she spent $800 LESS than the previous month!!!!
Name the budgeting method, I have tried it. I am a money and numbers nerd to the extreme, and yet still I couldn't find an approach to budgeting that actually worked.
Linda and I failed with every budget until we started using the Real Money Budgeting method.
The key difference over every other budgeting software, system, or tool is that it is using your REAL money instead of FAKE money (more on this below) like pretty much every budgeting app, software, or tool out there uses.
It isn't a lack of discipline, it is just that the budgeting system that pretty much everyone is using doesn't work very well.
Over the last 12 years of helping thousands in the SeedTime community with their own budgets, it is clear that budgeting with "fake money" is by far the most common reason so many fail with budgeting.
The good old envelope budgeting system your grandma used is the best. If you can do that, go do it. It is the easiest and most effective budgeting method by far.
But if you aren’t able to make every single purchase with cash (actual dollar bills) and need the convenience of using plastic (debit card), then you are going to love the Real Money Method.
Real Money is the simplicity of the envelope system with the convenience of a debit card.
Many budgeting tools and software have attempted to mimic the envelope system, but where they have missed it - and most importantly, the reason that very few people actually succeed with their budgets - is because they aren’t dealing with REAL money.
Sure, they may sync your transactions with your bank (when the connection works) and you may have an overwhelming amount of financial data at your fingertips, but when it comes down to it, the numbers on the screen aren’t directly tied to your bank account.
The worst part is they can (and almost certainly will be) manipulated as we inevitably get a little lax or forget to categorize a transaction.
And sadly that is the downfall of so many who use budgeting tools like this.
Why budgets succeed
On the other hand, when you are using the Real Money Method, there is accountability built-in, because the numbers you see are literally the amounts you have in your bank account.
Just like the good 'ol envelope system, in order to add $20 to your entertainment envelope, you have to pull $20 from your groceries envelope.
You can’t fake it. And when you spend in one category, it literally pulls money from your bank so there is no “cheating” the system like most people do with FAKE money budgeting software and tools.
Let's be real.
If you are married, it is pretty tough to make a budget work if your spouse isn't on board.
And in almost every marriage there is one spouse who is the one who actually wants to budget (if you are reading this, it is probably you) while the other one wants to spend all our money. ;)
The good news
The Real Money Method works quite well with very little effort of the "other spouse".
So even if you have a spouse who isn't fully convinced that budgeting is worth it, just have them talk to my wife Linda.
Seriously, have them go over to Instagram and send us a message (@seedtime) and she will get back to your spouse (or you) ASAP.
Trust me, after all the budgeting methods we have tried, if Linda is on board with this, there is plenty of hope for your spouse!
It is just like the envelope system, but with the convenience of a debit card.
It works like this:
1. You open a new checking account at Capital One 360, in addition to your current bank & checking account (more on why in the FAQs below).
2. You open multiple savings accounts there as well. Those savings accounts become your budgeting categories.
3. At the beginning of the month, you fill those savings accounts with amount budgeted for each.
4. As you spend using your debit card you transfer funds from the categories (savings accounts) to cover the spending. This takes no longer than categorizing transactions with typical budgeting software.
In the course we teach the step-by-step details of how to use this method and make it work for you by:
- Using our 2 checking account method (one is your current account and the other at Cap360).
- Showing you how to set up the system in a way that works and will save you time.
- Showing you how to optimize your budget in a way you can be sure you will stick with it.
- How to combine this with our Bill-pay process to save hours each month.
- And a lot more...
When does the course start?
Immediately! It is self-study, so you can take it at anytime - on your schedule.
Does it work with Mac, PC, Linux?
It works on any and all computers because it isn’t a software that is used.
Can I take the course on my smartphone?
Yep, absolutely. It is just as easy doing it on your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.
What are the requirements?
There are a couple simple requirements you need to be able to meet to use the system:
1. You must have good enough credit to open a checking and savings account. If you aren’t able to, we will happily refund you.
2. You will most likely need to open a new checking account (but not get rid of your current one!) as there are only a couple banks that I have found that work with this method.
How much time will be involved?
You will be able to get through the course videos in less than an hour. It should take about 2 hours (spread over a week or so) to get the system in place. From there, like any method of budgeting, it will require regular categorization of transactions (~15 minutes a week) to ensure that you are staying on track with your budget.
Can this budget be done with paper or does it have to be done on the computer?
Sorry, it doesn't work with paper only. You need to have access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
What if I am outside the US?
We have found the Real Money Method to work best with Capital One 360 accounts which are only open to U.S. citizens. It certainly can work with other banks, but it may not be very easy or possible at your bank, though you are welcome to try. See the next question for more details... If you are in Canada, we have heard from students that RBC Financial, BMO and Tangerine bank may work.
Why do you have to use Capital One 360?
It is the only bank that we know for sure works well with this system. Basically it has a combination of features that are very uncommon in most banks. These are a few:
1) They let you open up to 20 savings accounts (budgeting categories) and most banks won't let you do this.
2) It only takes about 60 seconds to open a new savings account - which is really helpful when opening a lot.
3) They allow free transfers to & from your current bank, which most banks do not.
4) They allow you to name your savings accounts.
And the list goes on and on. But it is important to remember you are not leaving your current bank, just adding a new one.
Didn’t Capital One just get hacked?
The hack on July 19, 2019 only pertains to Capital One “credit card products”, and the Real Money Method only uses their debit card, so none of our students following the system have had their information compromised.
Do I have to change banks?
No. You keep your current bank just as it is, but you will need to open a new account at Capital One 360 in order to use the method.
What if I don't have a Capital One branch near me?
I don't either. It doesn't matter for this system since all the money is being transferred online. They are a fantastic online bank with lots of options for getting money in and out.
Do I need to change my direct deposit over to Capital One?
No, one of the reasons we use them for this system is because they allow you to transfer back and forth to your current bank for free. So you can do your monthly transfers that way or you could have your direct deposit divided up between your two banks. Either works.
Are there banking fees involved in setup and going forward?
No fees! That is one of many features of the bank that we recommend for this budgeting method.
Does this course sync with my bank account?
Nope, it is just a method of budgeting that this course teaches. The method doesn’t use any software, it just teaches you how to budget with your own bank account.
Do you have access to my bank account?
Nope, not at all. By purchasing the course, you will gain access to training on how to use the method with your own bank account.
Can I gift the course to someone?
Absolutely, just purchase the course and then email us and we will get you taken care of!
Do the videos have closed captioning?
Yes, each video has the option to turn closed captioning on!
How similar/different is this from the Dave Ramsey budgeting system? I tried that in the past and felt like I couldn't spend any money.
Personally Linda and I have found that our budget allows us to say YES to much more stuff than NO. Now, there certainly are times where we choose NOT to do things because of our budget, but the thing to remember is that you are not a slave to your budget, it works for you. You get to tell it what and where you want to spend your money. It is basically an agreement with you and your spouse about what is most important to you and where you want to choose to spend your money.
Can I use my checking account for this as opposed to opening a Cap One 360 account? My bank will let me open multiple checking accounts and savings accounts.
Yes the only reason we recommend Capital One 360 is because it is the easiest we have found for the system but we certainly have not checked all banks.
How easy is it to transfer money from my current bank to a Capital One account?
Super easy. You do it all from the Capital One app/website and it’s just a few simple steps.
Does this sync up to my bank account, and are any of my records kept online?
Nothing with your bank accounts is synced to the Real Money Method. It isn't a software that you are using but a method of how to organize and categorize your accounts. So we won't have access to any of your information through the course.
I wondered if you have a list of budget percentage guidelines? We are setting up a budget and were interested in what categories and percentages you recommend?
Yes that is included in the course!
I have already purchased the basic Real Money course, and I wanted to know if I could upgrade?
Yep just shoot us an email and we'll get you taken care of!
Does this system work with an iPad. I do not have a “regular computer”
Yep, no regular computer needed! It works on tablets and smartphones.
Can I still use my credit card for purchases to get rewards points with this method?
The goal of the method is to make it as simple as possible and as such using a debit card is the absolute simplest approach. But many of our students still use credit cards with it and we have a lesson in the course showing two different methods to use Real Money and still use your credit cards to get points.
Does this method work for those with inconsistent or irregular income?
Yes it does. We have a specific lesson for those with irregular income.
So if you are new to Capital One, you could get $25 back. So not only are you going to get all the financial benefit of having a budget that works but you also can get it that much cheaper!
Because the envelope budgeting system is so effective, many budgeting tools have attempted to create “virtual envelopes” that you budget with. This seems like such a good idea in theory. But if you have ever tried it you will know what I mean when I say that it just doesn’t work over the long haul.
Over my last 12 years of helping people budget effectively, I can’t even tell you how many of these tools I have tried. I am a nerd of nerds when it comes to stuff like this and yet I still found my own personal budget slowly become a mess every 6 months or so to the point that I had to start all over. And it was all because they deal with fake money and not real money.
Think about it like this - when you are driving your car, how often do you drift into the guardrail? Hopefully, the answer is never, or VERY rarely!
And why don’t you?
Because it will almost certainly cause damage to your car. None of us want to rub up on the guardrail because it will probably scuff the paint and create some scratches.
Now let me ask you this. How often do you drift (even an inch) over the white line on the shoulder? Or even hit those rumble strips that make that obnoxious loud noise when you hit them? Again, hopefully not very often, but I’ll bet it is more often than the guardrail - right?
Why is that?
I suspect for most of us the reason is that there is no immediate consequence to our actions. Not so with the guardrail. We tap that just for a second and we might be spending hundreds or thousands at the body shop for repairs.
This is the problem with budgeting with fake money. There are no immediate consequences to our actions. So when I get just a little lazy and “drift” with one budgeting category, it has no immediate negative effect, which ultimately causes me to get even more comfortable being lazy with the budget. And sure enough within a few months, I find that I bounced a check because the budgeting software numbers don’t match what is actually in my bank account or my entire budget is out of whack and it is time to start over from scratch.
On the other hand...
With the Real Money Method, cheating is not an option. It is kind of like driving on one of those roads where the guardrail is literally right on the white line.
It should come as no surprise that you and I don’t seem to have any issues staying within the white line when the guardrail is right there - do we?
Same with budgeting with the Real Money Method, my friend.
What I should do is pull $25 from the grocery budget to cover my overage in my spending money account. But what tends to happen with budgeting tools that use "fake money" is that we just do nothing and tell ourselves that we will fix it next month. Since it isn't actually tied to the real money in our bank, we can get away with that for a month or two. But inevitably, it ends up catching up with us. And for many people, it is too late and their entire budget is shot.
I love being able to go to the Cap360 app to see what I actually have in my budgeted categories before spending in real time, rather than the guessing game I used to play. It really is amazing!"
We are in this for the long run. There is nothing we want more than to see you create and stick with your budget and master all aspects of your finances!
Before we begin...
The Problem with Budgeting Tools
1. Overview of the Real Money Method
2. How to quickly tell where your money has been going
3. Let's tell your money where to go
4. What to do if you have inconsistent income
5. Why we like Capital One 360 best
6. Getting started with your accounts
7. How to define the right number of spending categories
8. Why we use separate spending money accounts
9. Set up your spending categories
10. Putting all the pieces together - how this works in real life
11. The importance of the buffer
12. What to expect in the first month
13. How we track transactions
Do you make a lot of purchases? Watch this.
How to handle the 6 withdrawal limit
How to get your spouse onboard
The Bill Pay Spreadsheet Process
A simple trick to stay on top of categorizing transactions
How to optimize your BILLS account
How to use a credit card with this method
Consider adding in sinking funds
Meal Cost Calculator
14 Common FAQs (Your questions answered)
Budget Case Study: Bob and Linda Lotich 2020
Budget Case Study: Bob and Linda Lotich 2008
Budget Case Study: The Cantoni Family
Budget Case Study: Geoff's Family
Budget Case Study: Janise's Family
How to cut your grocery bill by 30% (or more)
My 3-step process to saving up to 50% on all my purchases
What questions do you have?