Post # 1
I’ve never had trouble following a budget. I’ve always put money into savings, always had extra money at the end of the month, etc. Never bothered with a formal, written budget, because when I was living alone, I never really needed one. Keeping it in my head was plenty effective, haha.
But J and I have really different ways of approaching finances, and have tried a few things since moving in together, and, well, haven’t really found a “sweet spot” for our finances yet. One thing we’ve been having trouble with is creating a comprehensive budget so we can understand where our money goes each month, and guide how we should be spending/saving/investing.
I guess I’m wondering – how do you keep your physical budget? (not like how much money do you put towards stuff, haha) In Excel? A better software? What kind of line items do you have, how specific are you, do you break it down monthly or by pay period? (and if pay period, how do you work it if you aren’t on the same pay cycle as your SO?)
That sort of thing. Would anyone mind sharing a bit of what has worked for them with me? I’d just like to be able to explore a few new options, and hopefully come up with something that will work with our different personalities, rather than against them.
(If you’d be willing to send me screen shots, example sheets, etc., please feel free to PM me or leave a comment, and I am happy to PM you with my email address.)
ETA: I’m also curious: Do you track your spending each month to make sure you stay within budget? How/where do you keep that record?
Post # 3
We don’t really have an exact budget. I just have an idea of how much money we have but I think I need something else because I feel like I’m spending a lot early in the month and I freak out about spending money later in the month!
We do have the savings coming out automatically though!
Post # 4
In my head, haha. 😛 I know perfectly well how much I make, what percentage goes to taxes/etc., and what my expenses are. I keep a mental checklist of spending, which I check against online banking to make sure everything is where it should be.
How I figure it out is this way: I take my first paycheck of the month, subtract all the month’s expenses, and whatever is left over is fun money (or money to be used for emergency stuff). The second paycheck is for savings/goals, like the wedding, honeymoon, new car/apartment, etc.
My fiance uses Mint to track different spending categories, but I prefer to just subtract all spending from what I know I can afford as spending money.
Post # 5
We generally just go by a “spend as little as possible” rule. We live so far below our means that a budget isn’t really necessary – but we do keep tabs on prices for different grocery items, clothes, etc. We search out deals and are really thoughtful as to how we spend our money. Since neither of us go on big shopping sprees, it works really well for us!
Post # 6
Well we’ve kind of sucked at budgeting lately, but the only thing that has ever worked for me is mint.com. Basically you input all your financial data (like all your credit cards and loans and bank accounts) and then every time you log in it automatically uploads all your transactions. You create a budget there and it automatically categorizes things (although I find it is wrong about 1/3 of the time so I go through every week to recategorize). It basically takes all the work out of budgeting once you get it set up. It also has options to have budgets be monthly, bimonthly, yearly, etc. So like my haircut budget is weird because I don’t get a haircut every month– more like every 3. So I put the cost of that divided by 3 as my monthly cost and set it up to roll over so that it keeps track of how i’m spending on that over all.
Post # 7
It’s pretty much in our heads, lol! I’ve heard great things about Mint.com so maybe that’s something you might want to check out?
Post # 8
Sorry I didn’t finish reading the rest of your question… or budget is pretty specific. We basically allocate all of the money coming in. We do it monthly because most of our bills are monthly. It works out fine for me because I get paid once/month. FI gets paid every two weeks. So what we do is figure our budget based on 2 of his paychecks, since every month he’ll have at least 2 paychecks. Twice every year he gets 3 paychecks in 1 month and those are awesome because its kind of like a bonus or found money! This year both of them went into the wedding savings. In the future we’ll probably use it for bigger purchases, or just to bolster savings.
Post # 9
We use mint.com to track our budget. Its super easy to use and I like that our transactions from various banks, credit cards, etc all show up in one place.
We budget monthly. As far as pay cycles – he’s paid every other Friday and I’m paid twice a month.
Combining finances was a little weird since we’re in our 30s and we’ve never had to consider anyone else in our financial decisions. So it was important to me that we agreed to a budget and a savings strategy.
When you sign up for mint, it pulls in your last 60 or 90 days of transactions from your financial institutions and sort of makes a budget for you based on your past spending. This was a great starting point because things like our mortgage, utilities, and cell phones are similar amounts each month. We tweaked out budget for items that fluctuate like dining out and groceries.
Once we had a good idea of what was coming in and what was going out, we figured out what our financial goals were (short term and long term) and we started calculating monthly savings for each goal and transferring money accordingly. Mint has a goals feature and you can see progress each month which is fun!
Mint tracks all of this, which makes it to see where our money has gone and how we’re doing versus our budget and goals. And since we can both access the mint website, it makes it easier for us both to be involved.
I keep up with the finances on a day to day basis (paying bills, etc), but DH and I sit down at least monthly to go over income and expenses for that month – what we did well, what we did not do so well, etc.
I love this sort of thing so PM me if you have any questions.
Post # 10
Our budget is not a spreadsheet. It is a mantra. Spend as little as possible. Have at least $100 extra at the end of the month. Rinse and repeat.
Post # 11
We keep an extremely detailed budget in a spreadsheet (we use Google Docs so we both have access to it wherever we are). We track on a monthly basis and each month create a new spreadsheet that also carries over unspent money from previous months. Next to each bill we keep track of info such as when the bill is due and how it is getting paid (auto-debit, check, online payment, etc). We have “allocated” and “spent” columns for each expense. When the money has been spent, it’s entered into the spent column and summed up. For expenses such as our spending money and groceries, we try to reconcile it (basically, balance the checkbook) about once a week. With this system both of us know exactly what has been spent and what is still available. It also helps me not spend as much because I like seeing my unspent spending money add up! We looked into Mint.com but found that making our own spreadsheets wasn’t that hard and it’s much more tailored to what we actually want to do with our money.
- “True savings” saving for emergencies, things we don’t budget for
- “Buying big stuff” – for travel, for downpayment on house, for other big purchases
- Student loan payments
- Credit card
- Rent, gas, electric, internet, car insurance, rental insurance, water/sewer, phone bill
- For these, we budget exact amounts for those that never change and average amounts for those that do change. Some of these are bimonthly and we budget half the amount of the total bill for each month. We always leave a little bit of unbudgeted money for overage on any of these bills
- Entertainment: dinners out, movies, concerts, etc
- Groceries and drug store purchases
- My spending money
- His spending money
Post # 12
We are cutting back on alot of things to have money for the wedding. First thing to go was fast food and dining out. We are restricting ourselves to eating out once every 2 weeks with a strict limit of under $25 for the meal. We are doing coupons, and cutting back on things like haircuts, clothing and entertainment. So far so good. We figure we will have everything paid for before the wedding. We are both pretty adament about not going into debt, and having no wedding debt left to deal with after the wedding.
Post # 13
Mostly in our heads.
I guess it is somewhat irresponsible, but we have enough to pay our bills and enough to dump into savings at the end of the month so we’re happy with that.
Post # 14
Because Hubby and I are a pair of DINK’s (Double Income, No Kids!) we have enough income to not need to work to a really exact budget.
DH is paid fortnightly so from his wages we budget and pay for the mortgage, utilities, food and petrol etc, I get paid monthly so my salary goes towards our fun money and savings (both savings to spend and savings to not spend).
All our utilities such as gas, power, insurances, rates etc are on monthly direct credit out of our bank a/c, mortgage is on a fortnightly automatic payment, food and gas goes on the credit card to be paid once a month.
With regards to our “fun money”, DH and I each get a monthly amount to spend on personal expenses (hair cuts, golf etc) and this stuff isn’t detailed in our budget.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that because of our setup we sort of self budget but I imagine that once we have kids and are down to one income we will definitely be worked to a tighter, more detailed budget!
Post # 15
Thank you for all being open to sharing this – I know finances are a pretty personal subject!
I’ve always been in the spend-as-little-as-possible and keep-track-in-my-head camp, but I’m ready to move into the camp of keeping records and setting goals on paper. I think it will help us be more on the same page about finances. 🙂
Post # 16
I guess we don’t have a strict budget. FH gets paid weekly, so I have on my Google calendar which bills need to be paid on which week. So, for instance, one week, we pay the mortgage, power, and phone bill. The next week, car payments, insurance, cable. Each week there’s a roughly equal amount of money being spent on bills. Once the bills are paid, a portion of what’s left over goes in savings, a portion goes toward the wedding (I try to set aside or pay toward the wedding the same amount each week) and the rest is “free” money. But we don’t keep track of eating out, groceries, entertainment, gas, things like that- that all just falls into “free” money. The only thing I really keep track of are mortgage and bills/utilities and once those are paid, I don’t find we really need to set limits on what we spend on the rest of our expenses.