Post # 1
I am in my mid 20s and finally at a point where I’m not living like a destitute college student. I would like to have substantial savings and retirement and everything, but it seems like we are building even just our emergency fund too slowly. Right now I manage our money so I need to learn how to make a budget actually work for us.
what I’ve been doing lately is on pay day, I pay all bills, separate a predetermined amount into another account for groceries, put some in savings, and the rest is misc/fun money. Every bill always gets paid, savings is deposited into, and we don’t usually spend more than what we have. But I’m not using a budget and worried my system isn’t as good because of this.
I understand the concept, you write down income and how much you spend in each category but I don’t know how that information should be used. Is it just the knowledge of where your money has been going and therefore you know to cut back in one area? once you have a budget created, how do you use it to manage your finances?
Post # 2
- Wedding: June 2013 - Upstate NY
Equine_Breeder: Here’s what I do
1) set a budget based on salary, husband’s contributions, extra income. Do this on a fancy excel spreadsheet
2) calculate how much extra money I have each month, factoring in weddings, house & car maintenance, & entertainment
3) keep track of every purchase starting on the 1st of the month to track my spending
4) realize in 3 days I have blown through the budgeted amout
5) get really mad at myself for all these little extras that keep popping up
6) spend a lof of money at TJMaxx & Target
7) abandon all budget tracking because, fuck it, what’s the point? Good thing I have a lot in savings!
8) repeat monthly
Post # 3
Hahahahaha oh gosh that made me laugh out loud lol.
damn you target! Always so tempting.
Post # 4
Its hard to write out and explain.
House repayments, food shopping, spending (takeout, date nights), petrol are what we obviously use every month.
then i have catergories for things like medical, insurances, phones, electric, gas, pet, xmas and bday presents, clothing etc. So i work out how much i would spend on each catergory each year (ex car insurance might be $300 for the year so i put $25 each month towards that catergory.) I have a book that i track how much is in each catergory (Ex i have $150 in my clothes catergory and i spent $50, so i cross it out and write $100.
Anything that is left after all of this is what goes towards savings.
hope this makes sense and helps
Post # 5
I used to use this spreadsheet: https://www.tdcanadatrust.com/document/XLS/personal_budget_worksheet_james_matteo.pdf
If you google TD budget spreadsheet the actual file will come up to download and manipulate. This was really helpful in setting my budgets up and deciding where all the money should go. It also helped when taking SO’s income into account for future budgets once we’ve bought a house.
Now I also use Mint Financial… It’s online and it’ll send emails saying: Woah, you spent too much on clothes, or woah how come you put so much gas in? It’s very easy to play with the budgets.
It also keeps track of EVERYTHING in one place, all your loans, credit cards, savings and chequing accounts. If you’re worried about how secure the site is, just do a google search and decide if you’re comfortable with it.
Post # 6
If you have enough to pay the bills, and are setting aside a satisfatory amount into savings, then the rest should be fun to use as you wish with no need to track it. i go back and track every few months just to see where the extra money is going out of curiousity, but until theres a need to cut back on fun money spending, it’s just for informational purposes. The only managing we do is make sure mortgage and bills get paid, retirement accounts are maxed out, savings account is comfortable, investment accounts are growing… the rest is spend freely. As long as the spending account has a good buffer, then continue spending as we wish.
Post # 7
Equine_Breeder: For a budget to work, you have to know how much you have coming in, how much the necessities cost (rent, groceries, gas, etc.), how much you want to save… and then what’s left. Then you take care of all the needs & savings, then track your spending to make sure you stay within the amount left.
Seriously, try Mint – once you set a budget on there, it’ll do all of the tracking for you. Try it a few months and see where you might be overspending or spending less than you thought, and you can adjust your budget or savings goals. I have two Mint accounts – one for our joint accounts/credit card, one for my personal, but it’s really easy to use and you can choose what accounts to track.
You can even set some budget categories to roll over… so say you budget $100 for gifts, but you only spend $25 that month, then you can either start over next month or you can have $175 available the next month (I like this feature for gifts and such because it comes in handy around holidays – I do it for “fun” stuff too, like eating out or shopping.)
Post # 8
I have everything plugged into mint but I found that all my numbers kept getting off because I was paid every other week and sometimes that meant I only got one paycheck per calendar month. So it kept alerting me that I was spending too much when I wasn’t!
Post # 9
Equine_Breeder: Huh? How is that possible? Does it take a while the check to deposited? I’ve been paid every other week for 10+ years and have never had a one paycheck month. Always 2, sometimes 3.
That’s another way I use to budget also. Instead of calculating my budget based on salary divided by 12 to determine my monthly income, I use my paycheck times 2 as my income. That way taxes, 401k, medical, (and house and car insruance for us) are all taken out arleady so we know exactly how much cash is left to distribute, and there is always 2 months where there’s 3 pay checks, so 2 extra paychecks for buffer that we dont have allocated at all.
Post # 10
Equine_Breeder: I’m confused about how there are some months where you only get one check. I’m paid every other week and have never had that happen. If anything, there should be a couple of months where you get three checks.
Anyways, I agree with @pinkshoes. Sit down and research how much should be going into savings and retirement and how much you need for bills. Spend the rest as you see fit. As long as you still are able to deposit the necessary amount into savings each month I don’t see the need to budget every category.
We have a set amount that goes into savings and as long as we don’t have to take money out of savings to pay off our credit cards every month we don’t really worry about where the spending money is going.
Post # 11
I have an excel spreadsheet with three sections that I do on a monthly basis. I get paid once a month and DH gets paid twice a month and it all goes into our joint checking.
At the very top I add up our paychecks plus any leftover money from the prior month for a grand total of available funds for the month.
The first section below that lists all of the bills and two savings accounts (emergency and rainy day). We do not touch the emergency savings unless it’s actually an emergency, the rainy day fund is for everything that comes up with the house or the dog or whatever. I take that total and subtract it from the available funds total.
Second is gas, groceries, weekend budget and dog budget. I take that total and subtract it from what’s leftover from the funds after the bills were paid above.
The last section takes whatever is left over after sections 1 and 2 and this is used for extra expenses that pop up throughout the month and I record everything I spend so I know where the money is going. This is for birthday gifts, extra fun activities outside the weekend budget, doctor visits, prescriptions, etc.
As long as I have a positive balance at the end of the month, even if it’s $.05, I’m happy. Although now we have to buy a second car and have a baby on the way so the budget will be changing quite a bit over the next 7 months… that will mean less going into rainy day savings and cutting back on the weekend fun budget but we’ll make it work!
Post # 12
Equine_Breeder: “Is it just the knowledge of where your money has been going and therefore you know to cut back in one area?”
That’s exactly what I do, but if you’re very serious about savings, set aside your monthly savings contribution first and then allocate the remaining money. It’s the conventional wisdom of “paying yourself first”. Work out a budget with the leftover money- and you might to decide to cut the cable, get a cheaper cell phone plan, shop grocery flyers, etc. It’s what a real budget is for!
Post # 13
I would recommend that you check out the app YNAB (You Need A Budget). I’ve also used Mint before, but I find YNAB to be much more simple and useful for budgeting. The main reason is that I think Mint is too automated – yeah, it sends you alerts, but if I don’t have to do anything with it, I’m probably going to ignore it. DH and I use YNAB (which also provides some great simple tutorials in budgeting) to not only set budget categories and amounts, but also to track all of our spending – we both have the app on our phones, and any time we make a purchase we just fire up the app and take 20 seconds to log the purchase. Also, creating a budget will show you where you have room to cut back if you want to save more – you know exactly where your money is going, and you can move things around from other categories into your savings budget (because ALL your income should be budgeted, including free spending money and savings).
Post # 14
lealorali: That was funny!
Equine_Breeder: My system is a bit simpler, I make sure I have enough money to cover all our expenses, savings, etc. a month prior, so basically we are ready when the month comes and depending on how much we have left, we use for fun. I don’t restrict myself to a certain amount on say groceries instead I keep expenses within a range. The best thing is to have some room for flexibility, but my number one priority is to pay mortgage, bills, insurance, all the good stuff. Also, no matter what, we must give something to the savings account, even if it’s a small amount. I have a list of days when I pay things, so I don’t forget. We go to the grocery store every 10 days religiously and purposely choose the days, for example, we go every 5, 15 and 25 easy to remember. I figure there are always things coming out, like we need to fix this and that, or now we need to buy a tool, heck I can never predict the future. I have fun managing money 😉
Post # 15
We don’t have a budget. We both contribute to our 401k’s and have a certain percent of our pay checks go to specific savings accounts, that way it’s automatic and you never miss what you don’t see to start. Then we pay the bills and each use our own leftover income as fun money. if we know we want specific things like a vacation we save for it, and have less fun money. If I want to go out to eat every night that week I don’t buy new shoes. Or like now we are saving for the wedding so our fun spending was cut down significantly. I don’t believe in limiting yourself to certain percentages, they are never followed and I live life as it comes up. That being said I dont use credit cards really everything is paid in cash so it’s easier to track through my online banking and see where I stand.