For someone who has “budgets” in their name, I sure don’t talk about them that often ;) But probably because I’ve done enough of it earlier in the years that I now tend to post things up only when I see something different or exciting or unique. Which happens to be today! (Lucky you!)
A lovely commenter by the name of Cat shared a good tip of her own in our post last week on always feeling broke, and I thought it was clever enough to be discussed and shared today :) Here’s how she manages the budget in her household:
I just did my budget for the next 6 months. I literally do it very… simply. I take a sticky note and I write down my exact net income per each paycheck with the date per sticky note (that’s 12 of them because I get 2 a month for 6 months). I hang these stickies up or keep them in my planner.
Under each net amount I start subtracting things that are due, and then I see how much it goes down. I recently added a new field for “emergency savings” and I try and keep my remaining amount under $200 dollars so I can’t ever spend more than that. If I have a remaining amount of under $200 after all my bills are paid, I add the amount to my “emergency savings” for that time and then it evens out.
Example: 11/15/12 — $1,000
- $200 student loan payment
- $500 car payment
- $150 emergency savings
= 150 (spending money for two weeks!)
Then when I actually get paid, my automated emergency savings deducts, and so does my automated student loan and car payments.
Different right? Perhaps a bit too simplistic for some people’s situations, but it’s a damn good starting point for those who just need to DO SOMETHING about their budget and quit slackin’. Not to discount Cats’ way of doing it or anything, I think that’s awesome that she can do it so easily like that! The less fuss the better.
It’ll now get added to my list of other interesting ways to budget too:
- The Bucket Budget
- The 1 Page Word Doc Budget
- Strip Budgeting! (safe for work… unfortunately)
- The Envelope Method
- Budgeting as Couples
- And lastly, the Anti-Budget Budget
In a nutshell, there’s a billion ways to track your money. And you can try one of them, or all of them, or even mix and match, all until you’ve figured out that perfect concoction of do-ability. Whatever works for YOU – the most important thing here. Just because I like being old and stodgy using spreadsheets and bank logins over fancy-pants software, it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Whatever you can do to STICK WITH IT and keep going strong, the better. How does that saying go? Don’t fix a broken wheel? Wait that doesn’ t make sense, haha… don’t fix a working wheel? Anyways you get the point. Find a wheel that works and then ride it out ;)
And I’ll let you in on another little secret here too. You know what happens when you start getting good at this stuff and trusting yourself to manage that money of yours more? You can start weening yourself OFF of budgeting so hardcore too! *Gasp* No more tracking every penny and reviewing every Starbucks purchase in fear that your mortgage payment will bounce! Nope. You still have to do SOME work and check in from time to time to make sure everything’s still kosher (I check in only about twice a month now – once in the middle and once at the end/beginning), but you can certainly stay away from daily budgeting hell and rid yourself of all that stress and worrying that comes with it.
I’ve been a LOT more relaxed on my budgeting than when I first started keeping track over 4 and 1/2 years ago. But only because I’ve got a good system down and know how I operate now ;) And when things change (like, say, getting married or having babies) you then adjust accordingly and pay closer attention to the details again until all is right in the world once more. We all make it there at some point, it’s just a more gradual process for some.
Any other cool budgeting methods we should be aware of? Anyone already using stickies??
I happen to have two of them on my computer right now, none of which shockingly have to do with budgeting. One says “Don’t be boring!” – to remind me to make these articles as interesting as I possibly can (I know I know, I let y’all down all the time ;) Thus the need for it!), and the other says: “No mortgages / Max Roths / Max SEP / Max 529″ – my four main goals every year now. Some harder to accomplish than others :)
Happy sticky’ing y’all!
PS: For a budget that BLOWS, check out this recent article from Money Life and More: The Most Popular Budget and Why It Sucks :)