Personal Finances - How I Achieved More Money Than Month

By: George Gilbert

Are you familiar with the phrase "More Month Than Money?" It means running short of money either before the end of the month or before your next payday. It's a condition with which most wage earners are familiar. It was my problem for many years.

I've been married to Lois Lane for more than forty years. We raised two daughters. I've had several "careers," and, I've always had a decent income. What I didn't always have was an effective way to manage my income. I'm not an accountant; just a breadwinner who, when I first got married, couldn't make the 'bread' go far enough.

The Early Years

For about the first ten years of our marriage, I used trial and error money management. Even though I had a good job with a decent salary, I never seemed to consistently have enough money to both pay my bills and for day-to-day expenses. One payday we would have more than we needed; the next we would run out of money long before the next paycheck. It was a continual financial rollercoaster. Sound familiar?

Like most people, I had not received any kind of formal or informal training to prepare me for the awesome responsibility of managing my income to effectively support a growing family. I was on my own with no financial roadmap as I searched for any type of a money management method that would work for me. I was looking for a way to both pay my bills on time and to smooth out the amount of spending money available between paydays. I'm sure you can relate to my quest.

I tried budgets and found that keeping track of every penny spent was something I didn't want to do. My budgets started off great, but they didn't last long. I tried bill consolidation loans and, after doing several, realized that consolidation loans by themselves are not the answer. They served only to increase my debt instead of helping me to control my finances. Keep in mind that this was all happening over 30 years ago; well before the advent of personal computers. There were no software options for personal financial management. I was on my own.

My First "System"

Over the years I gradually, without any premeditated idea of what I was doing, developed a system for paying my bills which also evened out the highs and lows between paychecks. These were the two features of a money management system that I wanted. This "system" was nothing more that a consistent way of looking at my finances twice a month. I was doing this all on scratch paper with no formal structure.

It's impossible for me to pinpoint when my very simple approach to cash flow management evolved into something I could use consistently. All I can say with certainty is that while I was paying bills one month it dawned on me that what I was doing on scratch paper could somehow be organized into formal records.

After experimenting with forms design over a couple of months, I managed to create a system of forms that replaced my scratch paper. (Remember, this was in the mid-1970's; several years before the advent of the personal computer.) With my new forms in place, my informal system had matured to the point that I was able to pay my bills when due without financial strain, and I had a consistent cash flow for day-to-day expenses. I was quite pleased with how my own personal money management "system" had turned out. It was a process that I, nor anyone else to my knowledge, had ever seen or used.

A Friend Gave It A Try

A friend of mine at the time, Fred Thornton (not his real name), became interested in my little system of forms. I had been telling Fred how pleased I was with the effectiveness of the process. My friend was also searching for a better financial scheme. He had an excellent income, plus a generous monthly dividend from a trust fund that his grandparents had set up. Despite his above average income, Fred's financial condition was characterized by "more month than money." He had large credit card and charge account balances to which he forfeited substantial interest every month. In addition, Fred was constantly concerned about his ability to pay his bills. He was in the same boat I had been in. At his request, I agreed to create a set of my forms for Fred to try.

After I copied the forms and instructed Fred on the methodology of the system, Fred became very dubious that my set of forms would be any help at all. After he initialized his forms to reflect his financial situation, it was painfully clear that Fred's finances were a disaster. According to the forms, Fred was in very bad financial straits; bad enough that he doubted his ability to ever get his finances under control. In addition to doubting the usefulness of my forms, both Fred and his wife were afraid that using the system would put unwanted restraints on their lifestyle the same way budgets tend to do.

The Turnaround Was Amazing

Despite their concerns, Fred and his wife decided to give my system of forms a try. They had nothing to lose. Their finances were in such bad shape that they doubted my system could make things worse. The results they achieved so quickly amazed all of us.

After using my system of forms for less than three months, Fred's finances had stabilized. All of his credit card and charge account balances were under control to the extent that he no longer paid interest on any of his credit cards or charge accounts. Furthermore, Fred and his wife were very pleased that their concerns about having constraints on their lifestyle proved groundless. They were actually able to begin pursuing many interests which, prior to using my system of forms, had been too expensive. As Christmas approached that year, the Thorntons were able to do virtually all of their gift buying without incurring any debt. In the eleven years they had been married, that was the first Christmas that they got through with virtually no additional debt.

The amazing turnaround in Fred's finances was nothing short of incredible. Because of the original set of forms I had provided to Fred, his finances quickly went from "more month than money" to "more money than month." After using my "system" for a few short months, Fred found that he was consistently faced with the pleasant problem of having excess income every month. His income had not changed, only the way he managed it.

The Word Began To Spread

My and Fred's success with the original set of forms was difficult to keep secret. It wasn't long before I was receiving inquiries from both people I knew as well as strangers; some of whom were out of state. Since I couldn't make copies of the forms and personally instruct everyone on how to use them, I decided to write a how-to book. The resulting three-ring binder, titled Payday Management System, was self-published in 1975.

Without exception, everyone who purchased a copy of that first book had the same success in gaining control of their finances that Fred had experienced. I began receiving letters from very pleased customers. Sales were slow since all advertising was strictly word of mouth. But, it appeared that, given enough time, sales of the Payday Management System could have taken off. So why haven't you heard about that first book in the last thirty or so years?

At the time I was still very much involved in my military career and had no time to be a book publisher. Shortly after publishing the Payday Management System, I was transferred to my next tour at sea. Before heading for my ship I put the book aside. I went off to sea and forgot about it. I continued to use the money management techniques; I just didn't have the time to share them with others.

Fast Forward To Today

It's now more than thirty years since my personal money management system was formalized in a crude set of hand-drawn forms. Since then, the personal computer has become very much a part of a growing number of peoples' lives. I decided a few years ago that it was time to update the original book and to convert the manual forms into a personal computer program so that I could again begin sharing this powerful money management process. I was now a software developer with much experience and figured I could easily convert the Payday Management System manual workbook to a Windows program. Boy, was I wrong.

After several years and more false starts, I completed the first version of my personal finance program in the fall of 2006. Expressing the simple techniques that comprised the original Payday Management System proved to be a far greater challenge than I first thought. Those techniques are powerful in their simplicity; and I soon discovered that preserving that simplicity in a technological venue was not easy. But, version 1.0 of the software is finally done. I've been using the program for several months. It makes managing our month-to-month finances very simple and easy.

Finance
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Finance