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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Money Matters & Dogs

So, I mentioned about a week ago how I was trying to save money. Caitlin asked me how I figure out my budget. Here's the problem. I don't. Does anyone have a great way to devise a budget? I'm thinking of using Quicken (simply because it's already installed on my hard drive), but I don't actually know how to use it. I'm sure I could figure it out though...

So far, I had balanced my scheduled bill payments against my bank balance to see what would be left over (a sad, paltry amount) before my next paycheck comes in. From that, I limited myself to $100 spending money for the period between paychecks. Of course, I didn't count the cash in my wallet at the I spent it without counting it towards my $100 limit. Then I cashed in all the loose change that I've been collecting at home/car and didn't count that towards the limit either ($33.00 - not bad! First time I've had to wait in line at the CoinStar machine though. The couple in front of me had over $200 in change!).

I think I may need to rethink my current method...Gas alone will be (and has been) about half of my spending allowance, and I still need to eat (groceries add up). Happily, my two front teeth will be paid off in December, and that will free up $120/mo for savings or spending. The credit cards will take a bit longer to pay down, but I'm working on it (which is why I'm trying to spend so little currently).

As for the "dog" in the post title, it's what my apartment smells like right now. And no, I didn't get one. It's from running the vacuum cleaner that I got from my father (he has quite a few dogs). It needs a new filter, but I haven't been able to find one yet. Granted, I haven't been looking... But, in the meantime, the carpet is looking much better. (And no Kristin, I did not completely clean my place before vacuuming, so don't get too excited.)


Dagny said...

When I'm feeling really anal, I revert back to an Excel spreadsheet I set up years ago. And yes, it accounts even for the money in my wallet. All necessary expenditures are recorded across the rows; examples include rent, gas, car maintenance, food. The columns align with my paydates. Well, they do when I am employed. Right before each payday, I would reconcile the various "accounts" so that the beginning balance would equal what I had in the bank as well as in my wallet. It really shined a light on how eating lunch out everyday can start to add up quickly. If I took cash from the ATM, I would force myself to remember where exactly it went. That's a real challenge. How often have you taken out $40 and had no clue where it went? Oh, and after all expenses, there was a section for putting money into savings. Because I really prefer to pay for everything with cash. Even vacations.

Kyle said...

Dagny is correct. You need to create a spread sheet - a Balance Sheet. You need to acct for ALL expenses for the month. These deduct against your pay checks for the month. Whatever is left over is your balance, if nothing is left over and you still owe you are in the red... You would need to make some cuts to get back in the black...
expenses should include your rent, electric, gas, water, car pmts, car repairs, car insurance, taxes, gas for car, food, clothing, credit cards, life insurance, dentist, doctor bills, cell phone bills, birthday gifts, allowance(to be used however you want Starbucks, crafts etc...), vacations, unexepected bills, anything and everything you can possibly think of that would be an expenditure -even if you do not have any car repairs for a month you should still budget for them. You will have them sooner or later better to be prepared and have the money than not. You will be shocked how much you really spend on things you need and things you do not need. Once you have your monthly x 12 and there is your yearly expenses. Once you figure out how much is going out you can fine tune your budget from there... make cuts or keep it the same it is totally up to you. Yes you should make more than you spend!!!

Good Luck,

Kyle said...

check out our post - Getting back to normal from March 12. The referenced article sort of talk about this.

BellaKarma said...

Check out Laurie's (Crazy Aunt Purl) budget sheet. You can find it on her sidebar.

Joie said...

I'm having to do this exact thing right now gearing up for the mortgage payments.

I personally do it on paper by hand. I add up all my expenses for the month averaging as needed, and then compare it to the income for the month. While others here will disagree with this, I actually don't budget for unknowns, because I don't know how much to budget. However, I HAVE to be saving a certain amount each month (I figure this covers the unknowns) We have been pretty successful with this program.

We really don't use the credit card for anything other than gas. Other than that we use cash. We visit the bank once a week, and only once. Once that cash is gone, we're out for the week. Tough. It helps keep us careful.

The most obvious place to cut costs is entertainment. Limit eating out, movies, crafting goods and weekend trips etc. Clothing is another one to cut. If you are like me, you have more clothes than you really need. Our grandparents had about seven to ten outfits. If I wore a new outfit every day, I could probably go a month, though I don't like all those outfits.
Other than that, it gets harder. You could downsize to a smaller apartment, cut cable or cell phone service. Cutting food costs is possible, though it takes some sacrifice and work.

Good luck, I know budgeting stinks.

Kristin said...

Oh come on. I took how many years to get myself out of debt and owe nothing. I can tell you how to do it.
I am not going to type it all out on the blog. I have told you some before. Its easy to set the budget. Then follow it, its not so easy but not that difficult

Calamity Jen said...

I recently started budgeting using the Monthly Budget template in Excel. You have to be committed to recording everything, which I'm not, and committed to cutting, which I dislike. I wish you better luck than I'm having.

I had to laugh when I read about the dog smell in the vacuum cleaner. Now that we're up to three cats and two dogs we actually managed to kill a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner in less than four months.