Geez, I can hear the groans through my computer!!! Why is it that every time someone mentions the word budget, people get all fidgety and try to get as far away from you as possible? Actually, I used to be one of those people. My husband would say that we needed to work on the budget and my eyes would glaze over and I would go into a trance. I hated that word. It meant limitations and accountability. I like limitations and accountability except when it comes to my cash. I want to spend what I want, when I want. Yeah, I'm such a grown up!
Nowadays, the "b" word doesn't bother me as much. Why? Because I have finally learned what works for our family and what doesn't. I also like knowing where the money is going and exactly how much I have to work with (i.e. spend like a mad woman!) Our budget system isn't anything fancy. It is actually a Works Spreadsheet with all of our bills listed according to date due. I have a column for budgeted amount and another one for actual amount. This helps me to see if we are getting carried away in a certain category or if I can reduce the budgeted amount to reflect the current amount due of a particular bill. I can plug in irregular bills whenever the need arises, say a doctor bill or repair. Because hubby gets paid once a month, I pay all bills at once. If a bill comes in after the day I have paid bills, it gets added to next month's budget. When he first started getting paid like this, I panicked! That tends to be my first response to change. Now that we have done this for a year, I kind of like it. I like the fact that everything is paid at once and I don't have to keep sending off payments all throughout the month. I scheduled all the payments I could to be automatically paid so, each month, I just go to my checkbook (Quicken) and plug in all debits. I keep track of any changes to amounts through email notices from creditors.
I also like the fact that I have to be diligent about the budget. If I get lazy and don't keep up with it, I know that I will run out of money before the end of the month and I will have no way of getting anymore. I don't like the feeling of being broke mid-month so I keep up with it as best I can. Nothing like a cash shortage to tighten you up!
If any of you read Stacy Makes Scents, then you probably already know this but Stacy's husband, Barry, is a financial planner and he did a post about budgeting. He even included a sample budget for you to add your info and design your own personal budget. Click here for that post.
The end of the year is the perfect time to get your budget done for the coming year, or at least the next few months. For me, this simply means printing out a report from Quicken showing how much I have spent in all categories for the year. From there I can see where we need to cut back and where we are right on track. Then I simply start separating what money goes where. For the coming year, I have some new categories that I will be contributing to such as bulk food purchases, vacation and hunting lease renewal.
Budgeting isn't horrible or scary. The state of your finances may be scary but the only way to get rid of the fear is to just dive in, see where you are at and create a budget. Oh yeah, and STICK TO IT!!!! I'm still working on that aspect!