One of the basic tenets of personal finance is being organized and knowing exactly where your money is going. That is where budgets come from! Oh yes, lovely spreadsheets. How boring right? You would be surprised though at how it can really help you track your expenses, set goals for yourself, see exactly where you are spending money that you do not need to, and how it can hold you accountable!
Before I married, I kind of had a budget going. Kind of. As in I did not really stick by it really. I did not hold myself accountable when I went over the budget I had set for myself. Plus I only tracked a few categories, clothing, grocery, restaurants and gas. The other problem is that my husband and I did not combine our finances entirely until after we got married. Before, we shared the bills and just took turns paying for things. We did not keep a list of what we were spending together, only what we were spending individually. We did not split everything half and half, after being together for so long it was more just splitting up the bills where appropriate. Did not matter who paid the rent check anymore, we would both take care of whatever was easiest for us.
We are now in our second month of living by a budget! We certainly do not have all the kinks worked out, but so far it is working for us. You will not know if it will work for you unless you try it! As you can see in the picture above, we have already gone over some categories. We will have to work a little bit more on that. Our categories list is much more detailed than the measly 4 categories I had before. We adjust the amount set for each category month to month based on our needs. Some months we might need to add extra money for car maintenance if there are any major repairs coming up.
The beautiful thing about having a combined budgets list is that we both know where our money is going to completely. By placing everything you have to pay for in a spreadsheet, it makes it extremely easy to see where you can cut back. It also gives you a nice sense of accomplishment if you can finish off the month under budget! We also are able to hold each other accountable for purchases! Much more effective than just having to rely on your own will power! Having this all set out places a set goal in both our minds. We constantly update it through the month which helps us try to stick by the amounts we have set. Still a work in progress, but I feel like it is helping us already! I have even included categories for cashback and gift cards. That is still money to be spent and should be included, in my opinion.
I created a budget spreadsheet that is super simple and easy to use. I went ahead and uploaded it for anyone who has never tried budgeting before and wants to start with a simple template.
Do you use budgets to control your spending? If so, does it work for you? If not, have you ever thought of trying it?