Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Revisiting the Budget


The long weekend gave me a chance to take care of some overdue tasks, like revisiting our budget.

It was time to revisit our budget for a couple reasons:
  1. I have a new job, so my salary has changed. Therefore, the budget has to change.
  2. Matt and I were not sticking to our previous budget. In fact, we were hemorrhaging money.
We were doing really well with funneling our income into different saving areas until our cars were stolen in January. We consolidated a lot of savings accounts in order to buy a new car without taking out a loan. Then we had to scramble to rebuild our vacation fund in order to go on our honeymoon in July. And then we had to fork over more than a thousand dollars to build a fence.

We had to put our automated saving plans on hold in order to deal with these various demands. Once we weren't stashing away our money into savings accounts, we had a bigger "general fund" that gave us the illusion of having a lot of money to spend (that's where the "hemorrhaging money" part came in). We started spending our money more loosely than we otherwise would.

Long story, short: We are back on a budget. I put an index card in my wallet to keep track of our spending. For example, we have $1,060 a month to spend on groceries, eating out, entertainment, and our dog's needs. I wrote $1,060 at the top and I subtract from it each time we spend money. Since the start of September, we've already spent $20 buying supplies from CVS for a sick friend, $25 on Thai food, $15 at Little Bigs, $23 at Mama Ninfa's, $8 on frozen yogurt and something else I can think of, and $20 on pure maple syrup, yogurt, bananas, and chocolate chips for a pancake breakfast. Keeping a running tally of our spending will help keep our budget more tangible.

I think we might be eating rice and beans by the end of the month...


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14 comments:

Ophélie said...

I've been tracking my spending for the past month, and it's been eye-opening. I have a notebook where I write down the day's expenses and any incoming money. Budgeting and knowing where your money goes is so important, but not enough people do it!

megan said...

mexican food is cheap! by some queso and tortillas to go with your rice and beans and call it good. :)

turtlebird said...

hmmm... i like the index card idea. good luck and keep those tips comin!

Cove Girl said...

Check out the Poor mans meal on my blog if you want to be saved from rice and bean.

Chelsita said...

We've been using Mint.com to track our spending - granted, we don't have it on hand, but its cool (and a little scary) to see exactly how much of our money is spent in different categories. Its a free program, and its really user-friendly. The only thing it doesn't track is if you spend cash... so if you are a computer-y person who uses mostly debit and on-line banking things, its perfect!

Rachael Eisner said...

Oh man! Being an adult sucks sometimes! This is one of those areas that make it less fun. However, the index card thing might work for me if I actually have to become aware of the money as it goes away...You are SO smart Mrs. Cotner

Aleta said...

That's awesome. We've started budgeting too, and we found an iPhone app that works well called Checkbook--not sure if you have one (it's not exactly the most cost-friendly device, but if you have it use it!), but there is probably something similar for any smart phone out there.

Not sure if this is welcome advice, but I used to budget similarly: $150 a week for groceries, incidentals, gas, etc etc, and I found that tougher to stick with than having little mini-budgets. We now budget specific amounts for groceries, eating out, incidentals (including lunch at work, coffee in the a.m.), gas, oil changes, and $50 a month for clothes (which I let accumulate til I have enough for a complete set of work clothes). I find it keeps me from putting things off (like oil changes) and it keeps me from spending too much on the stuff I don't need anyway (like eating out).

Anyway, just a thought from someone working to the same end!

Kelsey said...

Thanks for this post! We budget $300/person for "entertainment" a month, which includes eating out, haircuts, etc - pretty much everything that is not a bill or groceries or savings. I've started to spend only cash on "entertainment" stuff which is helping me keep better track of where my spending is as opposed to using my debit card. When the cash is gone I know I have to wait until the next paycheck to treat myself to Starbucks or a non-homemade lunch.

Also want to say thanks for your occasional budget posts! I wish that people were more open to talking about money, maybe Americans would be more responsbile with money if it weren't such a taboo topic to talk about with friends.

MoralesVilanova said...

Great ideas to take control of the expenses!

Sara said...

yeah, we stink at budgeting

oh, and i like the wallet in this pic...it's tre cute!

Anonymous said...

mint.com is a great way to keep track of your budget if you dont rely on cash too much.. i use it for everything!!!

anna and the ring said...

Thank you for the index card idea.

maurahanlon said...

I 2nd Mint.com...but yeah, it doesn't track cash. Index card is simple and quick.

Kate said...

A big fan of www.getrichslowly.org. Great tips on budgeting and personal finance written in a way that doesn't make me feel like an idiot for getting into debt to begin with.

I've been toying with Mint and based on recommendations on here, maybe I'll give it a try.

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