Lets talk about….. BUDGETS!

posted 3 years ago in Finances
Post # 2
159 posts
Blushing bee

I make my own budgeting sheet on Excel. I have a different tab for each month and break things up into categories – rent, electric, groceries, dining out, gym, gas, car payment, etc etc. I probably update the sheet once per week so that it’s not overwhelming to do the whole month at once and I can keep an eye on where we are for that month.

After a few months of watching these different categories you’ve created, you can get a pretty good sense of the ‘averages’ you’re spending in each one. When you add up all those category averages – see if that’s something you can afford monthly or if you need to make adjustments. Having it broken out into different pieces should help you more easily indentify where to cut back. 

Also at the end of the month if we have an “excess” left over for that month it gets immeadaitely moved into a specific savings account so that we don’t just end up overspending the next month with it.

Post # 3
5170 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

I personally think the easiest way to make a budget stick is by not having a really narrow and restrictive budget to begin with. Just look through your spending and figure out where the wasteful spending is and what you think could be cut. Then make sure to transfer the amount you want to save the day you get paid then the rest is there to spend how you like. It makes it impossible to overspend. 

We also do all “necessary” spending from one account, mortgage, bills etc and all fun money from another account as those are the purchases that vary more for us and it is much easier to keep a handle on things when you only have a few hundred in the general spending account vs the whole salary. It also means you don’t have to keep track of when your bills come out as you already have everything you need for the month in a separate account. 

Post # 5
5170 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

I mean restrictive in terms of categories rather than the actual amount you allow. I think it can make it more stressful and difficult to keep track of everything if you break things down too much eg having a cinema category, having an alcohol category, eating out, haircuts, toiletries etc. I find it is easier to just lump lots of those things into a few larger categories. 

My bills don’t fluctuate, I pay an averages amount every month so my winter heating I the same cost as during the summer. When they have fluctuated in the past I generally just round up so there is always money for it in the bills account. 

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kmbumbee190618 :  

Post # 6
379 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

We use You Need a Budget, and it’s been life-changing for us. The concept is “give every dollar a job”. You can create as many or as few categories as you need. We organize our categories into monthly bills (i.e. mortgage, water, cell phones, internet, gas bill, electric, etc.), other monthly expenses (i.e. things we save for on a monthly basis, but don’t necessarily spend on a monthly basis – i.e. auto expenses, home maintenance, our dogs, etc.). We have a long-term category for things like Christmas, gifts, vacation, and then a fun category (for things like eating out, my meals at work, my husband’s golf).

I love You Need a Budget for a couple of reasons:

– Unlike some of the other online budgeting tools, you have to categorize and approve every single transaction. I know some of the other tools auto-categorize for you, and for me, having to review and approve each transaction puts a sense of ownership and accountability behind them.

– You’re encouraged to update your budget and be flexible within the month – meaning, your budget isn’t supposed to be static. For example, to your question of bills that fluctuate, I generally start the month budgeting at what I spent the prior month. Once I receive the actual bill, if it’s higher or lower, I adjust as needed. If it’s higher, I know I have to spend less in another category. If it’s lower, I can put the excess in savings or towards something fun.

– They have some great reporting on spending habits, and one I really like is a view by category that shows how much you’ve spent per month and the average over a certain period. It was really eye-opening to us how much we spend on groceries. That data has helped me set a goal of how to reduce our spending in a meaningful way vs. just putting some arbitrary number out there.

The last thing I’ll say is that for me, “budgeting” is about having a goal. Do you want to save money? Do you want to go on a vacation? Do you want to see if you can live on one income? Having a goal in mind makes the act of looking at your spending on a frequent basis (I look at mine just about every other day) much easier and less burdensome. 

Post # 7
9148 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

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kmbumbee190618 :  we have a master budget in a Google sheet that we update as our base incomes change or a bill changes. Everything is based off a montly average of our base incomes. We average out the “extra” paycheck months and choose how to allocate OT as we earn it. We make enough money that we don’t stress about each little penny – we just need a good rough outline.  

I have line items for all of our non-fluctuating bills (mortgage, daycare, SAVINGS, insurance, cell phone, cable/internet, subscriptions, charity) and then line items for bills that fluctatute somwhat but are relatively consistent (gas, health care, utilites). For the bills that fluctuate I build in a small buffer so we rarely, if ever, go over the alloted amounts. From there I calculated out weekly “allowances” for us. That “allowance” covers everything not listed above. It includes groceries, entertainment, personal care, misc kid and pet items, gifts, home decor, basically anything that’s highly variable and irregular. How that allowance gets spent each week can vary a lot but it helps us keep unnecessary spending in check. Only having to worry about budgeting a week at a time is much easier. I’m in charge of groceries from my allowance (hubby has entertainment) and I can take a week and say “hmm…we have a birthday party on Saturday and I need a haircut. I’ll plan meals that use up some freezer/pantry stock so that I can keep my groceries lower so I have enough budget for that other stuff”. 

For savings (which we treat as a bill) it is separated into a sinking fund (used to finance home/car repairs, our daughter’s 529 account, and annual bills), a vacation fund, and a “next big thing” fund. Our emergency account is pretty solid right now so we’ve taken a break from adding to it while we work on other financial priorities. 

Post # 9
2919 posts
Sugar bee

I’m a big fan of just being mindful of money instead of keeping track of every single little expense. 

Recently, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to our expenses though because I’m getting a new job and my husband might be soon too.

Because of this, I just signed up for the EveryDollar app by Dave Ramsey. I am recording everything we spend just to get an idea of every month.

However, what we did before was (imo) a lot easier. At the end of the month, I will go over how much we spend in the following categories: bills, gas, groceries, and extras. I’ve been doing this for months so I can anticipate how much I’ll be spending on everything. I now have a “minimum” amount we have to have to pay all of our bills plus the average we spend on everything total. I also keep track of how much we save every month so I know what’s a good % to save. 

Post # 10
799 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

The way we budget is to transfer money into a joint account for our recurring monthly expenses. (Mortgage, car payments, utilities, etc). We also transfer a set amount into savings each month. Everything left over is ‘fun money’ to be spent how we please. (date nights, etc)

*Note: our recurring monthly expenses are about 60% of our takehome pay, so we have a lot of fun money left over. If you are frequently spending almost all of your takehome pay, you should adhere to a stricter budget. 

Post # 11
2363 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I budget using an excel spreadsheet and check in on it about once a week. We transfer a set amount of money each month into savings directly (general savings and 401k’s through our workplaces). Then I budget our money accordingly. We use a rewards credit card to pay for anything that isn’t a bill (gas, groceries, entertainment, kids, etc) and pay it off each month in full. For variable expenses like electric, I set the average and increase/decrease as we get the bill. Then any overage I assign to a category and if its more than average I will decrease a different category. 

if you frequently overspend in one area (for us, its eating out and groceries) it might be worth doing a cash envelope system for those items. It can be really powerful to use cash instead of just swiping a card. plus, once you’re out, you’re out!

Post # 12
9148 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

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kmbumbee190618 :  yes we only have one checking account. Both of our paychecks are direct deposited to it.  Savings is set to automatically transfer every week and all the bills are paid from it. We use credit cards to actually buy everything for the cash back but we pay the bills in full each month from that joint account. 

I got the allowances idea from Jordan Page (her youtube videos are hilarious and she has a blog funcheaporfree.com) and simplified it to just have one allowance each week (she separates out her weekly grocery budget). She uses an envelope to track where she is for the week but I just have a simple app (called Weekly Budget) on my phone that I use. The app resets every week and you just add in what you spend and it shows you how much you have left. It’s a super simple app and I just update it when I’m at the register buying something. If you have leftovers at the end of the week you can either roll it over to the next week or not. I personally either roll it (if it’s just a few bucks) or transfer that excess amount over to a separate savings account that I use to save up for big wants. These allowances are ours to spend without input or complaint from the other spouse. I keep us fed, he keeps us entertained, and the rest we do as we please. 

So as an example our amount is $200/week. On Sunday I spent $80 grocery shopping (which is high for us – I stocked up on a couple things), bought myself a coffee for $3, and took my mom to lunch for another $47. I have $70 left to spend on whatever I need or want through this Saturday and then I’ll reset and get another $200 on Sunday. I expect the allowance amount will fluctuate as we earn more, have more kids, etc but right now it works for us and let’s us have a higher savings rate. 

Post # 13
21 posts

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prettydetails :  Ours is pretty much the same. We get paid every two weeks, so that’s when we do it. 

I also keep track of my spending with an app on my phone. I go to the store, I put the charge in my app. 

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