We’ve Finally Done It. After enough of Sara’s suggestions that we make a budget, I finally gave in and agreed to give it a shot. We agreed on a few basic ideas for the budget:
First, our goal isn’t to cut back on fun, but is to better use our money on the things we enjoy. For example, we would rather go out for cocktails once, than order pizza twice.
Next, we decided it needs to be easy to track. I have tried mint.com and my bank’s budget tracking tools, and both required so much manual entry and adjustment that I just didn’t do it and it never turned into anything useful.
Next, the budget doesn’t have to perfectly balance. I get paid every two weeks, so every month isn’t the same.
We each started with a basic spreadsheet of our fixed expenses and income. Utilities were given a fixed amount on the high side of average. Annual expenses were divided by 12. Subtracting our regular expenses from income gave us our budget. From that, I gave myself a set amount per month for spending on 3 categories: 1. Groceries 2. Dining and Drinking 3. Everything Else. Finally, this left a “monthly balance” that should be saved or assigned to other big expenses like vacations, Christmas, and our annual Bourbon Chase pilgrimage. In the future, we plan to divide the “monthly balance” into categories of spending or saving.