Money has been on my (mad) mind a bit…you know, ever since I upped and quit my job. Sure, I got a new job (with a handsome boss) but the pay is lots less than what I was making before. And in truth, money has always been something I’ve thought hard about, even as a little girl. I can get all ninja psychoanalyst and tell you the root of why I feel the way I do, but let’s not waste your time. Since you’re already here though, I thought I’d start a running conversation about some ways I am trying to cut spending, save greenbacks, but still live life in between.
Today’s topic: Last time we chatted about debt, but this go around is all about budgeting. So super fun, right?!?
For the past two years, we’ve been tracking our spending, investments, savings, etc on Mint - an excellent (albeit, sometimes finicky) online tool. Admittedly, we’ve only been *tracking* our spending, not necessarily budgeting it per se. Here’s the thing. It’s difficult for us to put together a budget because we are still in the early stages of getting Hubs business up and running, which means we don’t have a reliable and continuous flow of dolla bills to build a budget from. Plus, we told ourselves, we are savers! We are frugal! We share meals at restaurants! We don’t need a budget, we already live well within our means!
Enough with the excuses. Last year, we started small and tried budgeting our “discretionary spending”. Hubs got a chunk of change to spend on his choosing, and I got a (considerably larger) chunk of change to do the same. This did *not* include groceries, eating out, gifts, entertainment, gas, basic toiletries, etc – even though those are all technically discretionary as well. For example, my shampoo did not come out of my personal spending budget, unless it was a departure from our regular products or a splurge (like something from a salon). Basically, any clothes, shoes, hair and makeup came out of my own personal spending budget. We set my budget at $850 for the YEAR. That’s about $70/month. I don’t know about you, but I thought that would be reasonable since I don’t consider myself a big spender. Turns out, I had a very, very, *very* difficult time. In the end (our budget rolled over July 1st), I didn’t make it. I went $13 over, which isn’t much but it goes against the principle of keeping a budget…you need to stick to it and I didn’t. Not cool.
(For those of you that care, Hubs didn’t even come close to spending all of his budget…so the extra rolled over to this year. In fact, he even DONATED some money to beef up our Christmas stockings and Easter baskets, because they were sad this year. Can you believe it?)
Nonetheless this experiment, although somewhat painful, prevented me from spending A LOT more. Like, maybe double, or triple more at least? It’s hard to say. So, we decided to do it again this year – but take it to the next level.
(Has anyone even bothered getting this far? So sorry for being overly wordy and boring.)
When we bounced out to California in June for a conference, we also took that time to host our first anual family “Budget Summit”, where we hashed out our finances. So sexy of us!
For the sake of TMI, here is what we came up with:
- Candace’s personal: $900/yr
- Hub’s personal: $400/yr
- Groceries: $300/month
- Eating out: $160/month
- Entertainment: $600/yr
- Gas: $160/month
- Household supplies/toiletries: $80/month
- Sports (ski passes, gear, league fees): $64/month
- Gifts (including xmas and shipping): $100/month
- Hair: $68/month
There are a lot of other expenses to take into account (like insurance, health expenses, rent, car maintenance, travelling, the unknowns), which we did when we made up the above discretionary budget. We’ve been tracking all of our expenses since July 1st and are working hard to stay under budget. So far, it’s been very difficult to maintain my personal spending (because I want stuff!), gifts, and our grocery budget. We are barely sneaking by in those areas. But other budgets, such as entertainment and eating out, we’ve been well under. So, this should be a great exercise for us. In our own nerdy way, we get super excited trying to stay within the budget. So maybe there is a little fun buried in all of this?
Anyway, I’ve blabbed LONG ENOUGH. Anyone else doing a similar exercise, or have you been faithfully budgeting all along? Fill me in, I’m interested in how other folks figure this stuff out!
Thank goodness spending time in the mountains is good for the soul and easy on our pocket books. I can’t believe the views from here are free!