Aug 4, 2010

How do you budget?

Does discussing money make you uncomfortable? It makes me a little uncomfortable. So I'm going to break out of my comfort shell and talk about it because I feel like it's such a taboo subject throughout society and I'd like to change that - even just a little bit.

The mister and I are trying to save so we can move out of our tiny apartment. Our lease isn't up until February so we have time, but because the cost of living is so high in our area I'm worried about saving enough for a security deposit, first month's rent and still being able to save in general (so moving doesn't drain us completely). We'd also love to visit Charleston for our anniversary this year and not have it break our budget, along with trying to pay off bills faster, saving for "just in case" instances with cars (because let's face it, something always goes wrong when you don't want it to), and saving for big things in the future (kids, house, etc).
(I typically have to do this after spending time with budgets)

I think the mister and I do a pretty good job of not living above our means - we don't have cable, we don't really go out to eat, we have to really want to see a movie to go to the theaters (seriously, it's like $22 just for tickets now - ridiculous!), we budget in birthday/wedding/baby gifts we know we'll need to purchase, we even consolidated our debt so we no longer have credit cards at all. I keep a running spreadsheet of our monthly budget, but I'm always open to suggestions and new ideas.

So readers - how do you budget? Any tips you want to share? How do you take vacations? (Or do you not take them?) Do you keep any kind of document showing your expenses? (The excel spreadsheet we have is pathetically simple). Are you with me about breaking out of the taboo money stereotype? Let's have a discussion today people!

(Photo: naturally nina)


Diana Mieczan said...

We try to have a set budget for bills, food at home, going out for dinner and extras for each month and we try hard to stick to it....I think you are doing really well and you have everything under control...One thing I can say is: keep it up and I bet everything will work itself out...I think its all about prioritising!


Ps: I am having a really great GIVEAWAY later on today…hint?(something you can wear) so please join in !!!!
I think it will really cheer you up:)

Breathe Gently said...

We had to rejig our budget/spending when I left work. It was TOUGH! We don't do a lot of going out things (that sounds lame, when I write it down) but we're both completely happy being homebodies, haha. :)

I'm currently responsible for planning and budgeting our move later this year; so cat expenses, shipping expenses, flat expenses, travel and flight expenses AND THEN trying to work out what we're going to do when we get back to Sydney - and my brain is really, really hurting. I'm trying to do it all on spreadsheets.. but to be honest, I work better with pen & paper, to J's horror. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Camping is a great way to have a vacation on the cheap! Usually like 20ish bucks a night. Then you don't feel bad about going out to eat during vacation, since you're not spending it on a hotel. Not to mention its fun!
I know a few folks that take out a set amount cash every week (or month depending) and that is what you have to spend on going out, new clothes, treats, etc. Once its gone, you don't use the debit card, you just wait til next month.

Mandy said...

I am horrible at budgeting. I really don't have one. My goal right now is tackling the credit card debt. I pay bills and generally know how much I spend per month on things like gas, food, entertainment, etc. I tend to do better at saving money in the fall/winter/spring. Summer tempts me with summer concerts, alcohol, and roadptrips to visit friends.

Anonymous said...

Budgeting can be a challenge, no matter what the financial situation, but I congratulate you for having a good bead on your financial state. I have to say that it was easier to manage before we had a baby, but the bottom line is taking it a day (or a pay period) at a time. I keep general budgets for monthly costs (food, gas, bills) and I overestimate expenses while I underestimate income. It almost never fails.

Amber said...

I pay myself first. The VERY first thing I do every 2 weeks when I get paid is put money into savings. Alternatively, you could set up a joint savings account and have money from both yours and Misters account automatically put into it every month. This account would be strictly for saving for your move - that's how Eric and I saved to go to Europe.

Other ways I budget are paying off my credit card and trying not to go out to eat too often - but it sounds like you guys already do that stuff!

Oh, don't know if you have this, but when I wrote a post on budgeting a few months ago A LOT of people recommended ING Direct. So I signed up. Love it! It's such a great way to save because it's not as easy to access your money as a regular savings account!

Gracie said...

I think you have a serious saving ethic already, but here are some ways I pinch pennies:
1. Swap free interesting things for your usual fun. Instead of going out to dinner, we like to bike to a picnic. More fun, but costs the same as a regular dinner!
2. Recycle. Instead of buying a new item of clothing I like to shorten my own skirts, or add a belt, etc. I mix polish colors instead of buying new, too.
3. Beans. I eat them several times a week. Cheap, easy, yummy, filling!

Nora said...

My budget lately looks like this:
Get paycheck (only once a month)
Promptly pay all bills (car, cell phone, insurance, gym, Netflix, pay off credit card if need be, though I keep it at zero)
Put half of what is left in the savings account for the house fun.
I usually allow myself $100 a week between gas, groceries but I don't use it all up and whatever is left over can be used on something fun OR like I've been doing lately, just stays in the bank.

When it comes to vacations, if I can't pay for it outright, I won't do it. Granted I've never gone to some place super exotic but I'm saving for Italy for 2011 =) When I am on vacation I do cash only so that I don't debit/charge anything that I can't really afford.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I think I am pretty good at budgeting and saving. I have an automatic deposit set up so that a certain amount of each paycheck goes into an ING savings account. I love the ING savings account because a) the interest rate is higher than what you'll typically get at a bank, and b) it takes 3-4 business days to get the money transferred back to your checking account so it prevents you from making quick decisions and spending the money fast!

When it comes to vacations, if I can't pay for them w/ cash, I don't do them. I refuse to put them on a credit card.

Other than that, I have really cut down on eating out and I rarely buy coffees anymore because those $4 drinks add up really, really freaking fast.

Jess said...

I have three kids, so budgeting is a little harder because there is always something coming up. But. Chris gets paid twice a month. Each check pays half the bills. I keep 2/3 of the rest for expenses, and the other 1/3 goes into savings.
We never go out to eat. Four people means even cheap restaurants cost us a 50. Movies only happen once or twice a year, and we take lots of advantage of all the free stuff to do in DC with the kids.
I also grocery shop every 2 or 3 days. It's time consuming, but I never, ever throw food away because it's just enough for us to eat.
I make a few cold salads for the week for Chris, so he doesn't buy lunch. I drink coffee at home 99% of the time.

Dani said...

We do, finally, but it's taken us years to get to this point. Honestly, our vacations typically come out of bonuses or deployment money. At the moment, we have all of our money go into a joint checking and DH pays us each a smallish allowance to live on and takes out grocery money. We only have one credit card we actually use apiece - and it's for gas (because you save 5-10 ct/gal). The rest are getting paid off little by little but my last trip to Iraq knocked out a good bit. When the bills get paid there's money left over that is "saved" but we have learned from experience that we can't overthink "saving" because we have no impulse control. Better to have the rule that the joint account is untouchable without both of us being on board.

Stevie said...

I'm pretty good about budgeting and living within my means, but I'm terrible at saving money long term. I'm currently in the process of paying down my debt (I'm SO close!) and once that is done I'll have extra money to put into savings. I need to put it into something like a Roth IRA, though, so I don't have easy access to it.

I'm totally open to talking about money, but I don't always bring it up because I know it makes others uncomfortable. I think that definitely needs to change. One of the reasons people get themselves into money trouble is because they DON'T talk about it.

Great post, Becky!

Angela (the diet book junkie) said...

what a great topic! yeah...we don't go to the movies very often either. tickets here in Sydney are $16 a person (yikes!) i'm not sure if i budget, but it's very important to me not to waste food. i eat everything (literally) i buy. doesn't make sense to me to throw money in the garbage. and i turn off all appliance outlets when not in use (save the pocketbook and the environment.) oh - and i use the dryer only for towels.

Ally said...

I don't have hard and fast budget rules, except that there is a certain limit I want to stay under on the credit card each month. We always pay in full, so if we go over that amount it makes things tight. Through the credit card, we get points toward free flights with Southwest. We haven't paid for a flight in years.

Affording/justifying regular travel, though, is really tough!

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