Living on my own soon; unsure of how to organize my finances. Help!

posted 3 years ago in Money
Post # 2
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

alt_bride:  Check out because it offers a great budgeting tool.  Organizing your recipts and documents by month is perfect for your accountant.

I personally review and retool our budget every 3-6 months as necessary and when there are any major changes such as an increase/decrease in pay or additional unbudgeted expenses.  With a house in the mix the most important thing you need to make sure to do is set aside money every month for unexpected household expenses.

Post # 4
10453 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

There aren’t that many reciepts you need to keep for taxes, unless you’re self-employed or something. Off the top of my head: medical, bus passes, moving expenses, food if you have Celiac disease (not just an intolerance), investments, charity.  DH and I just stick these into one folder for taxes (or well, we try to, luckily the only paper reciepts throughout the year we have are medical).

If you want to track other expenses for budgeting that’s up to you.  Personally I don’t.  Naturally, I’m more of a saver and knowing I ‘wasted’ x amount of money on buying new clothes would cause me stress and probably alter my habits when I don’t need to.  DH and I track investments, both their performance and what we put into them, it works for us.  If I were to track expenses I would use our credit cards to do it.  I would just put cash into a separate category, as we barely use it. Some people really recommend Mint.  I would advice you to look into the rules at your bank first if you are going to use it to automatically track things.  You would technically be giving a 3rd party your banking password.  I’ve never used it, but I think you can use it manually without linking it to your accounts.

Post # 6
24457 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

I don’t really organize receipts that much.  AB Bride has a good list of receipts and things that you would need to keep for tax purposes.  It would be better to keep everything in expense categories because going through month after month of files is very hard as a tax accountant.

We use Quicken to keep track of all our money because I like to be able to see what is in all our accounts, our mortgage balance, and investment balances.  It also helps us with tax time because we just transfer everything over to TurboTax (don’t know if you have that in Canada).

Post # 7
9859 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2014

alt_bride:  I don’t really track so much as budget.  I know how much money I make every month.

I subtract all the fixed stuff (rent, insurance, cable, internet, phone etc) what’s left is for everything else.

We have $300 a week between us for food, gas, fun, toiletries etc

I’m not putting as much into savings as I should but ideally you should put 10% of every cheque in a savings account of some sort.  We also have a pretty hefty debt from when we were students so we’re paying A LOT on that stuff to try and get rid of it, once that’s gone the savings will bump up.

Post # 9
1362 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014 - Turf Valley

Always have extra money!

To manage bills, I use my google calendar!  I have a widget on my phone so I can see my calendar on one of my screens (you know, swipe to a new screen type thing).  It shows me whatever bills are due on that day.  It’s linked to my Google email, so if anything happens to my phone I won’t lose that informtaion.  FI and I share our calendar so we can both see the bills. 

The only receipts I keep are bill payment receipts.  I never have enough to write off at the end of the year to make much of a difference in my taxes, so I don’t even deal with that headache.

FI and I have a billpay account, where all of our bills come out of.  For example, let’s say our bills are $1,000/mo.  We put $1,500/mo into the account.  This gives us cushion for unexpected bills, as well as allows our billpay account to grow its cusion each month.  We keep a healthy savings for unexpected expenses, but that is in a different account.  

It’s important to budget, but you need to enjoy yourself too.  Make sure you leave yourself a little fun money in that budget.  🙂  Enjoy your new experience!!

Post # 10
3014 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I would say the most important things to track are your food costs, your personal variable spending, and making sure you are saving money as well as ensuring you have enough money for bills to clear at certain times of the month. 

I have a very cheap apartment with my SO and no debt, so I put 25% of my pay directly into savings off the top. We split food costs at the end of the month, so I like to kind of keep track of how much money goes into food throughout the month (he does most of the shopping, so he likes to be surprised at the end of the month by how big a cheque he gets from me!) He takes care of most of the bills, I take care of my own phone and our netflix account. since I have an idea of how much money things are going to cost, I can keep tabs on my bank account and keep my spending where I want it. It is less detailed than some ways of keeping an eye on finances, but it works for me as I don’t spend my bank account dry (I get free banking if I have a certain minimum in the account at all times), the majority of my spending is on a card so I can sign in online and see where i spent my money, and I know I can be responsible enough to make this work for myself And not spend more than I make. I have a second savings account so that if I am saving up for a big item I can put smaller amounts in there out of the way until I have saved up for the thing I want to buy.

Post # 12
1834 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2014


alt_bride:  I don’t use a software – I just keep a spreadsheet. I know exactly what my fiance and I earn each month, plus rental income from a place I own, and I also list all our fixed bills and also the amount we put into savings each month (10% of our income as a minimum, sometimes more – this does not include what’s already being set aside by our jobs into our 401K accounts.) If one of us gets a bonus or a tax refund, that goes into savings too.

Once I subtract the bills and savings from income, I know exactly how much money we have to work with each month.

From there I create our spending budget – I figure out what we’ll be spending on groceries and household goods, how much money we will spend for going out, any other expenses coming up (weddings, birthday parties etc). Whatever’s left is basically ours to do with as we wish. We’re not big spenders, so usually there is a little extra padding left each month.  

Post # 13
1362 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014 - Turf Valley

alt_bride:  Well, you certainly don’t have to take all of the advice you get!  Some things work better for others than they might for you.  I just like having big cushions because it makes me feel better.  Also, if I give my money a home I’m less likely to blow it on silly things I don’t need.  

Don’t overthink this.  Know your income, set the budget, and stick to it.  It’s that easy!

PS:  I recommend always overestimating bills. So if you’re estimating the cost, estimate high.  Food is my biggest consumption, and we always tended to underbudget for it in the beginning.  

Post # 14
149 posts
Blushing bee

I second the suggestion for – you can link all of your accounts to it (checking, savings, loans, credit cards, mortgage, etc), it can remind you when bills are due, how you are spending your money, etc.  I also use a site called to make a monthly budget….. there are a complete pre-made templates you can use, or you can create a blank one to suit your needs. I create a blank one, and I actually budget each paycheck vs. each month (I’m a little OCD 🙂 )  Once I get my paycheck, I budget down to the last cent, even if I need to make up a category! I also keep only the amount in my account necessary to pay the bills that I pay online, the rest I take out in cash so I can’t overspend. This is what mine looks like, I erased the dollar amounts 🙂 I don’t use all of the categories every month, the “targeted expenses” and “miscellaneous” sections, I usually only use the pocket money, emergency/wedding savings, vet visits, and car registration unless I have a ton of extra money. Good luck!! 

EDIT: apparently when I copied the table, it didn’t work…. oops! Anyway, here are the categories I use:

Fixed monthly expenses: Housing, student loan, car loan, phone bill, groceries, gas, electric/gas, chiropractor, dog food

Targeted savings: wedding savings, emergency fund, car registration, vet visits

Miscellaneous: pocket money, date nights, medical

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by  Cupcakenurse.
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