The Inevitable: A Budget

15 Mar

It seems obvious that if the first step was to become aware of our financial situation that our second step would be to make smarter choices when it came to spending our money.  We did. The cable was cut. We stopped eating out so much. And since I wasn’t working at my previous job, I couldn’t hit up the bars immediately after work on Fridays.

For some reason it didn’t actually occur to me that I should formulate some type of budget until recently.

Just for some clarification, it’s pretty easy for me to say “I” in this situation because handling the finances is pretty much my job in the relationship. I keep the budget. I pay the bills. I am constantly tracking our money. I always keep my guy up to date about everything and always ask for his input but ultimately, if anything is going to get done, it’s my responsibility. Truth be told, I’ll do anything to get out of washing dishes, the worst chore of all time. Fact.

This year I started developing and trying to stick to an actual budget. Most Dave Ramsey fanatics subscribe to the cash envelope system. I live in the big city and that’s not going to work for me—I walk by a million stores a day and most of the smaller ones only deal in cash. Trust me, I will find some junk to buy in the dollar store or talk myself into a candy bar.

After looking around for a bit and reading some reviews, I decided to try out Pear Budget.

Pear Budget offers a subscription service online for $5/month but let’s face the facts—I’ve been known to be a bit miserly. I prefer the term frugal. Frugally, I downloaded their free excel file. As soon as I downloaded it, I was in love. It’s really easy to use and they explain how to set-up the spreadsheet on the first page. As long as you know what categories and values you are putting into the spreadsheet, it will not take you very long to set it up. Once it’s set-up, the only difficult part is remembering to actually enter the amount of money you spent that day. If you spend money daily like me, that part gets a little tricky. For the most part I remember to add what I spent but sometimes I forget and cannot remember if I already put it in the spreadsheet or not.

During the first two months, I found myself tweaking the budget here and there but overall the numbers have been pretty static. Making a budget has really opened my eyes to what we spend. For example, since we own a car but don’t drive very often, I was surprised that we were spending as much as we were on gas. And I love my food but it still surprises me how much we spend on it.

How does everyone else budget? Do you use software or do you just wing it?

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