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12-09-2010, 07:03 PM #1
Any suggestions for writing out a budget?
I really need to buckle down and write out a budget. I have started one before and then didn't stick with it. I do not have credit card debt but I do have a student loan. We also recently bought a house that we will be moving into in a few weeks. Any suggestions with writing out the budget and/or sticking with it? TIA!
- 12-09-2010, 07:13 PM #2
We wrote it out then tacked it to the wall in a very obvious location so we SEE it daily. It helps remind us.
The other thing is the envelope system. For example, if you budget $200 for groceries, pull it out in cash and that money is saved for groceries and you can only use it for groceries. It isn't available for other things. If you have any left over at the end of the pay period/month/budget section, redeposit and use to pay something off or put into the emergency fund. That will help you stick to things better.
Budget in some blow money so you don't feel deprived and then blow the budget when you get something big. If you want something big, set money aside (budget) a little at a time so it doesn't break the budget.
Talk about what you are doing. That way the lines of communication are open and you don't get blindsided by the other one saying "Well, I thought THIS was more important so I paid it instead of THAT." Or you don't blindside your spouse.
You'll find lots of suggestions on some of the other threads here. Poke around and see what you find.12-09-2010, 07:42 PM #3
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I am obsessed with my budget!
I start by;
writing out my debts
writing out my savings and assets
writing out my weekly and monthly outgoings (bills and anything else I spend money on...sometimes it is good to write down everything you spend for a week or two just in case there is something you are forgetting)
This gives me an idea of how much money I have and where it is going...I set my payment plans...I set bills to come out direct debit from my account...I make sure I withdrawl all of the cash just after we have been paid and I use the envelope system (all be it a little different) and transfer my savings over the day after I get paid...just in case there is an emergency and I need to spend it...
I do my budget on excel and I love it so it is easy for me to look at it frequently
Sticking to it is another thing...I go really well until something pops up and we need to spend some or all of our savings and I get a little down but otherwise the reward of paying my debt off it enough to keep me on it...
I set targets for myself though, like saving a certain amount or getting my food shopping below a certain amount and it makes things more interesting...if I am not challenged on a weekly basis I consider it too easy and set a harder target12-10-2010, 08:50 AM #4
I started out by writing down what's due when, and how much it usually is (tv is always the same amount, as is our phone plan, but electricity can vary). Then I make a column for each paycheck with the amount coming in....seeing the dates you get paid, vs. the dates $ is due, helped me to organize it all. I also try to include $15-25 'extra' a week for all the little things that creep up....an unexpected child's birthday invite, a week we used more gas than usual, this kind of thing. The 'xtra' rolls over week to week, though i keep it low enough it never seems to add up significantly, but is enough to not let some unexpected $20 blip ruin our budget.
You just have to find what works for YOU, everyone does it a little differently.12-10-2010, 08:57 AM #5
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Be honest with yourself. What I mean by that is if you spend X amount of dollars on something be truthful with how much you REALLY do spend.~Russ12-10-2010, 09:21 AM #6
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Here is what I do:
Keep all of your receipts. If you go to a place that generally doesn't give a receipt (like coffee shop etc.) ask for one. Use the envelope system, then at the end of the week, make sure the amount of money left in the envelope jives with what you spent as per your receipts. I have 3 envelopes: food money, H&B/cleaning/pet money and blow money.
When you budget for something like groceries, don't budget the amount of money you 'wish' you spent on them. Budget what you actually realistically do spend. If you honestly have no clue how much you spend, keep track for a month and then budget that amount for the next month. Or, you could examine the past few months bank records if you generally pay by debit.
Don't forget to budget for non-monthly expenses like car insurance or maintenance, vet visits, clothing. Putting aside a little money each month to cover these expenses can be a huge help. If you're not on an equal billing plan for your hydro/heat, make sure you account for extra usage in the winter months.
I have a little notebook that I write down everything in. Every time I either receive money or spend money, it goes into the book. I prefer the book over excel spreadsheet because it's portable and fits nicely into my purse. I think it makes me feel like I'm more in control as well to sit at the kitchen table with my notebook, pencil and receipts in hand and make sure everything is on track.12-11-2010, 02:04 AM #7
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I write out a budget on excel. My budget is based on paychecks so I have two per month. I have one month per page, and then every month on one excel page. Each month is copied over in the form of a blank, which includes all the things that don't really change: cable bill, insurance, debt payments and a conservative estimate of our paycheck. If I anticipate a bill happening in a later month, I'll jump ahead to that month and estimate the cost and insert it into the budget. As the it gets closer I'll find out the exact amount of the bill and edit accordingly.
Some things I will change. As an example, I knew that i was going to buy a gift that cost about 119 bucks not including tax so I budgeted 130. I adjusted it after the fact to reflect the exact price. I don't exactly budget dollar amounts for gas. I aim for one fill up a pay period so I'll estimate the cost of a fill up (on the high end) and then when I actually fill up I'll adjust my gas 'budget' to be, say, 55.43 rather than 60.
There are other things things that I won't bother tracking per transaction. As an example, groceries. It's a lot easier to pull out 300 a paycheck for groceries and use cash rather than budget 300 and try to keep track of how much is left after 4 different grocery store transactions. Same thing with blow money. In these cases, I just budget the amount of cash I'll pull out and then I don't think about it again.
On the very last page of my excel workbook I have a debt listing which includes all my debts, their interest rates and minimum payments, balances at different times and website and login information.
I guess it sounds complicated but It's actually really simple. I have tried multiple systems and they've almost all been massive failures in comparison.
The picture below is an example of my blank. I put some numbers in so you can see how it works... excel updates the math automatically with the sum function so it doesn't require much work. I've been using it for probably about 3 years now.12-11-2010, 02:19 AM #8
That's pretty impressive, Nishu. The last time I used Excel was probably about five years ago to budget xmas spending. I totally forget how to use that program now.12-11-2010, 07:57 AM #9
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Some excellent advice, and the best advice is to find what works for you. Begin somewhere (computer, notebook,etc.) writing down everything you spend. Then look at the categories those expenses fall into. Talk among yourselves about your priorities and goals. What do you want to accomplish? How can you adjust your expenses to meet those goals?
We kept a notebook and a box. The notebook was for jotting down absolutely every thing we spent and the box was for the receipts. We had a category of absolute expenses: things that never changed like car payment, house payment, insurance, etc. We had a category of things that fluctuated a little, but were constant bills: water, electric, telephone, etc. And we had a category for things that fluctuated but weren't a monthly bill, such as food and gasoline. We had an allowance for charity and gifts, and we allowed ourselves a very small amount of blow money ($5 a month!!). Finally, we budgeted savings each month. It often was very little, but we needed to develop the habit of saving.
We also realized that things changed as life went on. We got out of debt on car and house as quickly as possible, and then started using that money for savings. Sometimes we had bad weather and had to spend more on heat. Sometimes there were emergencies..... You know how that goes.
But when we had a general plan of where the money went and where we wanted it to go, then the occasional emergency wasn't so bad.
Let us know what you do and how it goes!12-13-2010, 11:18 AM #10
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1. Put the utilities on the average payment plan so you have a good idea what the bill will run monthly.
2. Make a list of these averages and the other fixed bills. If something is semi-annual or annual, divide the amount by 6 or 12 for a monthly total.
3. To have a good idea of what your variable expenses run, you can write down all your purchases for 2-3 months for an average of what you spend in each category.
4. Take note of anything clothing, yard tools, little appliances, etc that need to be replaced so you can guestimate your miscellaneous needs budget. Also remember to figure in ice melt, spring plants, trash bags, maintenance on the mower, replacement of yard tools, bug treatment and paint/caulking expenses which are seasonal.
5. When you have your 2-3 months of variable expenses recorded, note any trends you could change to spend less such as taking your lunch to work, doing movie night at home, reserving eating out for special occasionals, eliminating dry clean only clothing, or using pay at the pump and refusing to set foot in the convenience stores. Changing where you shop to the most consistently inexpensive place instead of driving all over town for the bargains also saves money. Shopping with a list on a full stomach helps a lot too.
6. To increase your savings rate, move over a set amount of money from checking to savings at the beginning of the month. Have this automatically done on your direct deposit or by the bank. If your bills were higher than expected because of a suprise car repairs or whatever, move over the money to cover it.12-15-2010, 07:41 PM #11
I created my budget using Open Office Calc (like Excel). I put as much information I can in the budget so I know exactly what's going on. But, I've been doing this a while, it wasn't this exact when I first started. Online account information (account histories) has helped greatly in developing a budget.
I color code my bills by the due date & paycheck(s) the bill will come out of. DH has biweekly checks, my income comes in the first week of each month. Blue is paychecks #1, and Red is paycheck #2.
Since I use a cc for all purchases (including food), that is why I have a few cc in the monthly bill column. These are always paid in full and accrue no interest. I keep tabs online what my balances are on these cards (and all cards/loans), so I never go over my budget. The right column is those things that accrue interest, of which I'm paying down at record speed (for me at least). New charges are never made to these loans/credit cards. They are to be paid off then closed, not used. Min. Payment is my determined amount for the month, not what the cc asked for.
Column K is my "where we stand" column. Minimum required is my total bills for the month. Income 1, 2, & 3 are self explanatory. This is net income, not gross. Carryover from previous month extra income that didn't go to an EF, or extra debt payments. After all bills are paid, I look at the projected leftover for current month and decide what to do with it (apply to debt, or EF, or leave in account).
Column C and G is for marking it off when I've paid the bill (that's a fun column). Once all bills are paid, I clear columns C & G, analyze what needs to be changed for the following month, and then save the spreadsheet as the next month.
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