Despite the fact that I obsessively plan our meals for the week, I am not a planner. I don't really like keeping track of things either. When it comes to my bank account, I am the kind of person who looks at it every few weeks just to make sure there is still money in it and that no one is stealing from me or charging things to my credit card.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the fact that John and I will probably be moving in the next year or two, and that it might be a good idea to start seriously saving some money for that adventure. However, the idea of eating rice and beans for the sake of saving a ton of money in a short period of time does not appeal to me in any way. I'd rather get a second job than sacrifice my delicious dinners!
My biggest issue is that I do have some debt. 95% of it is my student loans...which if I didn't have to spend money on anything else I could pay off in one year. 4% of my debt is my car loan, and the rest is (gasp) my trusty credit card. I'll blame the credit card on a cash flow problem. After we came back from vacation, John realized that I never paid him rent/utilities for February OR March, so I owed him a lot of money. Then, you would have thought that I would have just paid the balance, but I did not, because I have an overwhelming fear of not having any money in my bank account, so despite the fact that I had the money, I waited because I wanted my car payment and loan payment to come out, and then my paycheck to go in, and then I would pay. Dumb, I know, but I told you how I feel about trying to keep track of this kind of stuff. Anyway, the credit card is taken care of, and everything is status quo again.
I did some research and came up with a plan, which I figured I should share just in case any of you are like me and cringe at the thought of tracking your expenses and sticking to a budget.
I decided that the easiest way to figure out about how much money I spend each month was to go back through my bank statement and credit card bill for a one month period and just add everything up. For some reason I have a ridiculously hard time categorizing things that are not obvious, so I added an "other" category for things that I had a hard time deciding where they went.
After I had all of my numbers, I found a simple spreadsheet (google "household budget" and you will find a 47,500,000 results) where I could plug in my "expected" and then add my "actual" as the month goes on. That's it.
I was surprised to find out that I am unknowingly hoarding $500-800/mo. That could definitely be going towards something useful...like my savings and my loans. Obviously you have to figure out what works for you. Some people are extremely detailed in their expense tracking/budgeting. I, however, know that if I make it complicated and overly detailed, I won't keep doing it.
I think I will probably end up making my own spreadsheet because the one I found has too much stuff on it, but I will use the premade one for a few months in order to best know where to make changes.
Here are some useful links to check out as well: