In my last post I promised to write more about my personal views on budgeting and my own budget. As you may gather from the title I can be a bit lackadaisical about budgets because… I always break them and get discouraged. I love budgets and I think they are a GREAT tool for learning about money and learning how to spend money more efficiently but when it comes down to it I have real trouble sticking to a black and white budget 99% of the time. In reality I don’t really like budgets all that much.
I know I know… I’m sounding a bit flip floppy here… and that is exactly how I feel. I have a hate/love relationship with my budget and sometimes… sometimes I just throw the budget out all together and start from scratch next month. I do try to budget by planning ahead financially and monitor my accounts very closely. study them to the point of insanity to see if there’s been any change.
I keep a running list in my day planner with all of my yearly expenses. That is EVERYTHING I could possibly spend money on. When I think of something else, no matter how small, I add it to the list. I don’t actually put numbers on them, I just write every single thing down that I spend money on. Every few months (or before any big budget change such as adding a recurring bill or making a big purchase) I sit down with this list and do the number crunching. This gives me the basis for my monthly planning. I then know what I make, what my expenses amount to and how much should be left. I also make goals and try to follow them and be accountable to YOU, my lovely readers, by posting about the past month’s finances every month.
At the end of the month I do know where every single cent has gone, even though I don’t have it on a spreadsheet. Really, the only physical evidence of my budgeting I can offer you is that scribbly list pictured above.
So in short; I don’t budget down to the penny for the time ahead, I basically end up with something like this; “I should be spending about 50ish on groceries this week, if I overspend I need to adjust something else or spend LESS next week. ” While this is NOT 100% foolproof, this system works for me for now. I have contemplated using software or spreadsheets to tag and keep track of my expenses and it is something I am still considering for the future. Mint.com is a site I would love to be able to use, alas… I live outside of the US. 😦
What does your budgeting look like?