Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's Budget Time!

So, the best way to stay on budget is to actually have a written budget.  I used to try to keep everything in my head, but it’s not working so well these days (I chalk it up to pregnaner… mama brain?).  Actually, it never worked that well.  If it did, we probably wouldn’t be in our predicament.  

Dave Ramsey (you’re going to hear his name a lot) follows a “zero-based” budget.  This means every penny has an assignment.  At the end of the month/the bottom of your budget, every bit of income should be in a new home that isn’t your checking account.  I have a very hard time with this.  I like to have a cushion just in case I forget a bill (usually it’s the kind that gets automatically withdrawn).  However, this budget makes you check and double check that you have every little thing written down.  I equate it to your boss telling you an assignment is very important.  If you’re like me, that makes you go over the final product with a fine-toothed comb before you present it.  Your boss in this situation is you and your family.  Who deserves a job well done more than you?

So, Dave has a budget sheet that he uses (you can find it here), and I used it as a jumping off point.  Zach and I are big fans of spreadsheets, so I made our own.  Originally I inserted some formulas (nerd alert), but all the changes made them useless.  That’s the thing about a budget, it’s always evolving.  They say it takes about three months of budgets to get it right.  We’ll let you know.

I really like to break down numbers as much as possible, so a weekly budget really appeals to me.  This could get a bitexcessive, so I’m think bi-weekly budgets are the way to go.  Typically, you make one a month.  I get paid weekly and Zach gets paid twice a month, so lining it up with Zach’s paychecks makes the most sense.  I like to get all the bills, and organize them chronologically by due date.  Then I can split up what needs to happen in the first half of the month and what needs to be in the second half.  

The budget isn’t just bills.  You have to figure out every single thing you spend money on throughout the month (or whatever time frame you decide to work with).  I almost always forget toiletries…and car maintenance…and really anything to do with the car.  Zach uses about $400/month in gas (he commutes over an hour each way to work.  Don’t become teachers, kids!), so that’s a pretty big chunk to forget. One way to keep track would be to keep every single receipt for a month.  It’ll be a harsh dose of reality (See my last post for how much we spent on food in 11 months), and should also catch any costs that you didn’t think about.  

So, there you have it: Your beginning guide budgeting.  We’ll get more in depth when we feel like we know what we’re doing.  Do you use a written budget?  If so, do you have any tricks?


  1. Hey Tara! We follow Dave Ramsey at our house. We have a budget on Excel that we have projected through the whole year. It's easy for us to see our more expensive months, like last month when I needed contacts. With this being our second year on this budget we are able to see what months we need to really tighten up the belt.

    Just don't forget the small stuff! The toiletries were a big one for me, now they are in the budget so I don't have to worry when I run out of something. It took us awhile maybe from July of 2012, but we paid off college and some medical bills. We are debt free. It can happen and I am definitely one to say once you start and get past the 3 month mark, you are so much more aware of everything and you begin to not "want" anything. You start to see that you are only wanting something because someone else has it. You begin to put the focus on the necessities, and save the wants for holidays or birthdays.

    Simple things: make coffee at home, no Starbucks, or a can soda instead of always going to the gas station. Empty your change out of pockets or purses and collect it for a month, change it in and voila you may have some money to put down towards a bill. (we do this!) I have gotten into the habit of cooking a meal, and with only two to feed, I freeze the leftovers. I am no longer throwing leftovers away and I have a built in meal for a week or two later. I used to buy books all the time, I got a library card and now I get my books there and our movies as well. Save atleast $30 a month! I also read on my phone and share books with friends, I have read for the past year for free just by asking others to share with me or only downloading free books! Another "sharing" idea is purses, clothing, accessories. I have friends who are the same size, instead of going out and buying the dress or shoes I need for one night, I just ask to borrow. Obviously these are the little things I am doing!

    Good Luck, I'm cheering you guys on!!

    1. Hey Abby!

      Thank you so much for the tips! I love the freezing idea. I've never done that, and constantly throw out leftovers. Do you have a kindle or iPad (or ereader, or whatever)? A lot of the bigger libraries let you "check out" books and they stay on your tablet for 2 weeks. My biggest perk with that is I can do it from home :). Maybe you can do a guest post sometime! You are working it, girl!