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Dollar Signs Make Me Nervous

Multiple dollar signs? Not always a good thing.
Multiple dollar signs? Not always a good thing depending on what it is for.

Happy Friday everyone! Also Happy Memorial Weekend! A big thank you to all our vets who have made celebrating this weekend possible. I bet everyone has some sort of bbq plans this weekend, or maybe an out of town mini-vacation somewhere. Either way, enjoy your three day weekend.

Now back to dollar signs.

Sure everyone like seeing dollar signs, it is when there are multiple ones that make it an issue. What am I talking about? I am talking about when you are perusing a website for a new restaurant or a review website for services. Each site uses their own system of rating, some will use 3 dollar signs to indicate a very high priced restaurant, others 4 dollar signs. I have to admit I am one of those people who see the multiple dollar signs and then shy away from those places sometimes. Usually it is a great way for me to save money by not even looking at the places that are rated with higher price points. I am happy enough looking at the ones with just a single or two dollar sign. It is a great way for me to save money by filtering by this handy rating system ,so I do not even look at higher priced options.

On the other hand, when I am on vacation or looking for a nicer restaurant for an anniversary or special date, those come in quite handy to filter the other way. Higher priced places tend to have better service and atmosphere, as compared to something with a lower rating. Restaurants in particular are a good example as lower priced places tend to be take-outs, casual sit downs, and hole-in-the-walls.

This is a great way to save money by going to out to places that cost less. Do not really need those $100 a person meals! They will definitely drain your wallet! Just think of how many meals you could have had with just that amount of money alone. Being able to effectively filter based on cost helps me a lot.

What kind of restaurants do you look for when going out to eat? Do you use this filtering system to help you save money?

Do Budgets Really Work?

Snapshot of our budget list, a bit over some categories!
Snapshot of our budget list, a bit over some categories!

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.

Budget 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?