Bad with Money – Help Me Budget

posted 3 months ago in Finances
Post # 2
44 posts
  • Wedding: July 2016

The first thing I’d do is actually figure out where your money is going.  You have no food, gasoline, weekend activities, nights out, listed.  You need to know how much you spend on that, since from what you’ve said that’s where your budget is leaking out.  Cancelling the gym membership is a good idea if you’re not using it, but that $60 isn’t the problem–the missing $1600/mo is ($5,000 minus $3,420).  Are you saving money?  Does your company have a 401k you’re contributing to?  Either go through your last 2 months credit cards/cash and figure out what you’re spending the extra $1600 on, or start keeping track today of ALL MONEY SPENT.  You can use a little notebook or save receipts, whatever works for you.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, outdoor activities, etc.  A good website for getting control of your money and spending is Dave Ramsey.  I don’t agree with everything he says, but his Get Out of Debt works.  Once you can say where that $1600 a month is spent, you’ll get lots of ideas for budgeting it better.  All your other expenses you listed aren’t that unreasonable.

Post # 3
17 posts

I highly recommend the website You Need a Budget. It’s so simple but it completely changed how I managed my money. Don’t pay for the tracking program, just read the philosophy.


I use to track my spending. It’s free, and I decided I don’t mind if a company knows my spending habits. 

Post # 4
1383 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

You could start by keeping a record of every dollar you spend so that you know EXACTLY where your money is going. I’d also recommend stocking up on groceries so that you don’t need to eat out all the time!

Post # 5
1861 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

Download an app called Money Manager and put everything you purchase into it. You can categorise every expense. This way you can see where your money goes.

Perhaps subcribe to hello fresh or similar.  That means you have to cook at home and get the servings for 2 so you have lunch the following day. You can’t be lazy as you have to cook!!

Post # 6
270 posts
Helper bee

I think that by reading your post, you already know what you need to do. Start with small tweaks like cutting back on  food costs (if you don’t have time to cook, maybe considering going to a grocery store and picking up meals instead of restaurants). I would also try to cut back on some costs when you go out, being generous is great but any friend would respect you trying to get your finances in order. 

I am also an impulse shopper with small purchases that add up – consider having a “cool off” period before buying things to decide if you really need / want them. 

You need to decide if saving money is a priority for you, and if it is, it’s mostly about limiting the unnecessary and thinking about whether you’d rather have X or money in the bank. Your salary more than covers your budget so I think it’s mpre a matter of discipline. 

Post # 7
1011 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

I learned to budget, because 4 years ago I was flat broke and has HUGE unsecured debts. Kind of forces you to grow up when you have $200 of discretionary spending PER MONTH left after all bills come out.

First of all. Meal Prep Meal Prep Meal Prep. make a song of it. “It’s sunday afternoon, feelin kind of sleepy, but I can’t sleep, cause I gotta MEAL PREP”.

I prep all my breakfasts and lunches for work on a Sunday afternoon. It’s mostly the same thing, but it does the job. If you’re looking to save money, you gotta change the mentality that you “deserve” to eat out every day. Monday-Friday food is fuel and that’s it. 

Besides, meal prep usually means you eat better, have mroe energy, so you will find it easier to forego the energy drink and sugar hit when it strikes.

And secondly: Put your damn credit card away. Stop being so generous. You don’t have the security of a financially successful SO so stop pretending that you do. These women have it easier than you. You have to stop comparing yourself to that, by way of spending habits.

Good luck!

Post # 8
4473 posts
Honey bee

There’s a lot to unpack here and I’m tired, so I’m just going to address two major things I see.

1.  You need an attitude adjustment regarding your credit card.  It’s not a cash advance or a license to spend money you don’t have or you think you might have in the future and it can be a slippery slope.  Never put charges on it that you couldn’t pay immediately.  Treat it like a debit card. 

I use a credit card for the points.  It gets paid off in full every month (actually every two weeks because for me it’s easier to just log in on payday and make a payment than keep track of yet another due date).  I keep enough in checking to pay off my card at all times (I don’t need to wait until pay day to pay it off) and if I wouldn’t have enough in checking to pay the balance in full then I just wait longer to save up for whatever it is I wanted.  I don’t just put it on my card anyway under the “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” principle.

And yup – sometimes being a fiscally responsible adult and getting yourself out of debt means you don’t always get instant gratification and every once in awhile you have to say no and miss out.  It just does.  Sorry.  You can’t say “I wanna keep doing everything I’m doing so I don’t miss out and also have my debt paid off and have more money available” and expect it to change without giving something up at least once in awhile.

The only things that get put on the card that I may not be able to pay off right away are emergencies (real emergencies – travel for family emergency, medical emergency, something that makes my house uninhabitable without it like a dead furnace in the middle of winter).  And then it’s ramen and library books for a month or two until I pay it off.


This leads to a closely related #2.

2.  Find other ways to be generous.  Be generous of heart or of time or of spirit.  There are more ways to be a kind and generous friend than spending money.  People can pay for their own damn ubers and drinks/food. 

And don’t pay for things that require being paid back.  Let someone else volunteer or if it has to be you, then you don’t pay for the thing and put it on your card until you have the cash on hand.  The closest thing my friends and I have come to not having cash in hand first before whipping out the card is when we ordered concert tickets during our lunch break at work and my friend put it on her credit card because we wanted to ensure seats together and tickets were going fast.  Within 10 minutes of the purchase I was at the ATM and our other friend wrote her a check.  My friend had it deposited and transferred to pay it off on her card within the next two days.  Paypal, Venmo, and like a dozen other similar apps means you should never be waiting around for friends to pay you back and letting things accrue interest on your card.  Not paying you immediately is them not respecting the fact that you aren’t their personal bank, not a reflection of some perceived lack of generosity on your part.  They should be prepared to pay immediately or you don’t put it on your card until you have cash on hand.  Especially if these are the same friends you claim are rolling in it.  My only exception to this rule is mandatory work travel where they require I submit an expense report with receipts after the fact.

Also, share your goals with your friends.  They’ll understand and maybe they’ll be willing to just hang out with pizza and wine and watch Netflix with you instead of hitting the bar for a few months until you get yourself out of credit card debt, build up savings, and have a good financial plan in place.  Sharing your goals with others keeps you accountable and helps you attain them. 

Post # 9
9041 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I would take that $2000 payment your work owes you and pay it directly off your credit card. You monthyly expenditure is closer to $3,500 when you add in your annual fees. You need to include all pf that in a monthly budget. Including things like house maintenance and car maintence should also be budget lines as you should be saving towards those so that when they do come up it doesn’t blow your budget as well. It also pays to have a savings line in the budget as well. So that you know you have to pay yourself as part of your monthly bills.

Yes get rid of the under utilised gym membership. 

Track every single expenditure. People are normally shocked when they realise how much they are spending on certain things especially convenience items liking eating out. And whilst being generous with friends is great I have to ask do they reciprocate? Because if it is one sided then yes you have to stop because you can’t afford it.

And you know you have to stop with the diet coke/energy drinks, not just because of the cost but because of the health side of it. 

I would also suggest removing any saved payment details on shopping accounts. If you have to physically type in your details for every purchase it is an extra step to deter you. I would also suggest switching to cash payments for the little things. It is so easy to rack up a huge bill of little purchases when all you have to do is tap. It makes it so easy which I guess is the point and why financial institutions love it.

minnewanka :  

Post # 10
2481 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2017 - Courthouse

I commend you for posting about all of this and finding fault in your ways. It takes a lot! 

I agree with PP. I would personally try a “no spend” month and spend as little as possible. Buy groceries, don’t eat or drink out, don’t go shopping, don’t spend a lot on outings. Maybe a drink or two with friends but that’s about it. Then compare how you used to spend to the next month. I think you’d be shocked at how much you can save. 

My husband and I don’t budget per se. We enjoy being able to spend as we like. However, we both have the mindset to spend as little as possible. So just because we don’t calculate every last thing, doesn’t mean we spend a lot. For instance, on the weekends, I make lunches and dinners. Usually one day I make breakfast and one day we eat breakfast out. For the past few weekends, we’ve either done this or hosted people over for a bbq or gone to other ppl’s homes. We don’t go out and drink, we don’t spend a lot on food and we don’t spend really anything on entertainment. 

Sometimes you have to cut out everything to realize how much of a difference you can make! Of course the alternative route is to little by little cut things out. 

I also highly recommend keeping a journal of discretionary spending. Not bills but how much you spend on any food, entertainment, shopping, Uber, drinks, etc. You’ll probably be shocked! 

Also, look up the show Til Debt do Us Part on YouTube. It seriously opened my eyes to budgeting. 

Post # 11
4473 posts
Honey bee

Just thought of something else.  It’s not clear from your post when you say take-home pay if that means after contributing to a retirement account or if it means you don’t have a retirement account you contribute to since you don’t have it itemized in your monthly expenditures. 

Likewise, does this mean you don’t have a savings account you’re currently contributing to?

25%* of my pay goes to some combination of a retirement fund (above and beyond my employer pension), a high interest savings account that is kind of a hassle to withdraw funds from and earmarked for an upcoming large expenditure, and a regular savings account at my primary financial institution I use for emergencies and have in case of loss of job or some other situation where my ability to work is limited.  It’s direct deposited from my employer so I don’t miss the money because I found that when I left it up to myself to transfer the money, I always found excuses to not do it or made promises I never kept like “Well, I have this thing this week, so I’ll just put double in next pay period.”  I never did. 

*I had to work up to that.  When I first started I was in heavy debt and could barely skrimp together $25 a pay period.  After my credit cards were paid off I took that monthly payment to pay myself and up the amount.  And every raise I got thereafter got shifted into the retirement/savings track so that I never got used to having that money around and kept to my original budget.


Post # 12
2706 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - St Peter\'s Church, East Maitland, and Bella Vista, Newcastle

sbl99 is absolutely right – meal prep meal prep meal prep.  Plan your menu for the coming week, put a grocery list together (the Paprika app is brilliant for this), do your shopping online and pick it up on your way home from work – that way you’re saving time by not going through the supermarket yourself, and it also stops those impulse purchases which magically jump into the shopping cart.  I spend a couple of hours at the weekend prepping meals – even if they’re not totally done, it still makes a massive difference when I get home from work if the veggies are already chopped and ready to go.  I also use my slow cooker a lot – again chop everything at the weekend and throw it in a container.  Then when you get up, all you have to do is chuck it in the slow cooker, add some liquid and switch it on, then when you get home dinner is cooked.  It’s the best invention ever.

Also, your internet and cell bills seem high.  We pay $50 for 50gb internet, and my phone bill is $40 for another 50gb plus unlimited calls and texts – are you still paying off a handset with the phone bill? Look around and see if you can get better deals on those two, because I reckon you could practically halve that.  I got my phone contract lower when I saw my carrier was advertising a great deal for new customers – I rang them up and said “I’ve been a loyal customer for seven years now, can you explain why my loyalty isn’t being repaid by a great deal like new customers are getting?” And boom, instantly cheaper cell contract.  That extra money should immediately go into paying off your credit card.  And do you really need Apple Music? Cancel that for a few months and see if you miss it.  Once you’ve paid off the credit card, that extra money goes into a savings account.

Cancel your gym membership and put that $60 per month straight into the credit card bill.  Put that $2k from your work STRAIGHT into the credit card bill.  In all honesty, I’d cut the credit card up, pay the bill off and close the account.  It’s digging you a hole.  When you get a raise, put the extra straight onto the credit card bill.  Once it’s paid, put 50% of the raise into savings – you’re surviving without it so clearly you can, and it’s a quick way to start building savings.

Something which has helped me is having multiple bank accounts.  My pay is deposited, and the same day there’s an automatic transfer to a savings account.  Money for mortgage/bills goes automatically into another (it’s our joint account, but there’s no reason not to have a separate account of your own for that).  What’s left is fun money.  The savings and bills accounts do not have any type of card associated with them – bills are all paid online and my savings account I can access online but it’s a hassle.  My debit card can only access the “fun money” account so when it’s gone, the card declines.  Another option here is to work out a “fun money” budget for the month, and withdraw that in cash.  Once it’s spent, it’s gone.  I think if you see the cash dwindling before your eyes, it’s much more tangible than whacking it on the credit or debit card.

Post # 13
1861 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

Also many people say pay yourself first. This is from the book ‘rich dad, poor dad ‘. As soon as you get paid stick at least $500 into a saving account that you cant see or touch. I did this to learn to save. I literally had an automatic payment go through to another bank account on the day I got paid every month. To access this money, i had to walk into the bank and request it. Then wait 5 long days for the money to show up in my bank account. So i forgot i had the money and I couldn’t access it. 

Post # 14
8409 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: Dorset, UK

I am sure there are loads of great apps out there but I just run a simple spreadsheet for the month and the months ahead. I list my income and then all of my bills, mortgage etc, allocated myself “spending money”, withdraw cash for food shopping (as does my husband), fill my tank up on payday. I used to spend loads on petrol but now I live in the same town as my job so walk the 30 mins each way or cycle, that has really helped.

We find having a tin with cash in for food shopping really helps us see what money we have left, instead of doing big shops and then just bunging it on a card. 

I also do cashflow forecast for the months ahead so for example, I know how much I need to save for Xmas and our upcomig holiday.


If you struggle to really remember where your money goes, make a record/  keep a receipt of EVERYTHING.


I have used the envelope system before and many people swear by it. 

For example, there are 4 weeks in the month and your allotted spending money is £50 per week. With withdraw the £200 cash on payday and separate out into 4 envelopes. Each week you have an envelope with the money it. It can really help curb wasteful spending as physically seeing the money go makes your brain wake up a bit! I personally find if I just use my card I end up spending all my money and then spending the last half of the month feeling poor ha ha.


Good luck! 🙂

Post # 15
2487 posts
Buzzing bee

A lot has already been covered, but I want to suggest signing up for this free “Uber Frugal Month Challenge” from the personal finance blog The Frugalwoods:

It’s a series of daily emails for a month with actionable steps you can take to monitor your financial life — I did it recently and found it really helpful for building mindfulness around my spending. 

I also recommend the site Personal Capital, which allows you to link all your accounts – loans, credit cards, retirement, savings – and track your overall financial picture like your net worth and your retirement projections. It also automatically categorizes your CC transactions so you can get a sense of where your money is going. I’ve used other budgeting tools like Mint but Personal Capital is my favorite because I’m more incentivized by the idea of seeing my net worth grow and being able to retire early than I am by shorter term goals. For me, it’s helpful to think about the bigger picture of what my goals are and how my money is working towards those goals (or holding me back from them). 

It’s hard to give more specific advice without knowing more details about your situation— do you have any savings vehicles? How much is remaining on your student loans? Are you saving for retirement, or do you have a pension or similar (not sure how this works in Canada)? But the first things you should do are most likely: pay off your cc, build a budget/start tracking your spending, and build an emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses in a high yield savings account. 

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