Hope you all had fun, safe, relaxing weekends! And if you happened to spend your weekend street racing in front of our apartment at 3am, honking your horn, revving up your stupid engine on your stupid looking modified car, all whilst waking up sleeping children and their grumpy parents… I will punch you in the throat. I will gladly trade in my “No worries, I’m still young and hip!” card for a “I’m really good at calling the cops” one if it means never hearing you scream by at 100MPH+ in front of our house ever again. So if you’re out there, you’ve been warned. Oh, and happy Monday!
Some of you might be familiar with our About You posts where we ask readers questions and request, nay, demand answers. Usually they’re personal and deep (“Choose one: permanent Cheeto’s fingers or permanent corn between your teeth?“), but today we wanted to get at some meat and potatoes: your budget. We’re interested for three reasons: one, we blog about budgeting and we want to get a better sense of the diversity of opinion and methods out there; two, it’s fun for other readers to get a peek into what others are doing, too; three, I thought I had a third, but all I can think about is this Super Gusher Ball wrapped with Fruit By the Foot and filled with Gushers.
- How do you track your budget?
- Do you track your expenses manually or automagically?
- Does your budget have a name?
- How often do you check your budget?
- Scale of 1-10: how satisfied are you with your budgeting system?
[ 1 = sad Keanu // 10 = how you felt when you got your first NERF gun]
- BONUS: If your budget was a person, who would it look like?
We’ll start with our answers, mostly to further diminish our credibility and make you wonder why you’re here reading our words:
- We currently use an app called HomeBudget for our day-to-day tracking, and Mint.com for our monthly at-a-glance tracking.
- Manually. If we felt more in control over our finances using an automated system, we’d be all about it.
- Sebastian, but usually preceded by some mild expletive.
- Every time we make a purchase is the goal. But a few times a week is sometimes the result.
- 6. It works OK, but it’s too easy to get behind. And getting behind = frustration. And frustration = Oreo binging. And Oreo binging = going over budget on Oreos to feed our frustration. Rinse and repeat.
- We want it to look like Uncle Joey from Full House, but it really looks like the “Bueller… Bueller…” professor on Ferris Bueller.
So that’s that. Your turn. Answer with a comment below.
1. We were using an excel sheet to calculate our budget but recently we have been using paper.
3. No name but now I want to name the budget. I guess we should come up with a name for our baby girl that is due on a mere 10 weeks first.
4. I put our receipts in a few times a week and run a subtotal mid month for each category and then randomly a couple more times during the month.
5. 5- it’s ok but needs some work. Once we move next month we will need to be tighter with our money so we will address it then.
6. It used to be like Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey but as of recent it’s been more like Rose!
Good luck with the upcoming move! I hope you get everything squared away before your baby girl shows up!
And while Rose is a bit unpredictable, she sure knows how to have a good time! 🙂
1. I track it on an excel spreadsheet – every month gets a worksheet!
2. I track my spending manually in the spreadsheet – I feel I have more control and more of a connection with it that way. If something else were doing the heavy lifting, I fear I would slack off!
3. Nope, no name. I’m not that creative!
4. I check it everyday. Every time I get a receipt, it gets in there right away. And I like to see where I’m at every morning – especially now that my debt was recently paid off. I like seeing that big ol “0” under my line of credit!
5. 10. After much experimenting, I’ve finally found a system that seems to work really well for me. It helps that I only have myself to worry about though – that keeps things pretty simple!
6. Picking up on the Full House theme, it would be Danny Tanner – super organized almost to the point of too much…!
Too organized? There’s no such thing when it comes to budgeting! It sounds like you’re doing a great job, Heather!
1 and 2. I use Quickbooks and enter expenses and income manually. I think I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to our budget since we had so much trouble early on with our finances.
3. Never thought of naming it, but if I did perhaps Maynard.
4. I check my budget a couple times a week, I can pull pretty graphs in Quickbooks to see if I’m on track. It’s a bit addictive.
5. My budget might resemble The Geek in sixteen candles – completely unsure of itself but every now and then thinks it’s got a handle on things.
Maynard? Now that’s quite a name. It sounds like more often than not, your budget handles itself very well! Great job!
I would HATE being woken up by street racers! We used to live in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood and the only people that love 4th of July more than natives are immigrants*! We were up ALL night listening to fireworks (and guns!) for the days before, during and after Independence day. We moved and now only hear some fireworks on the day-of for about 6 hours.
2. Automatically, but with frequent check-ins.
3. Oooh, now I want to name it!
4. We check it weekly (or every time I want to buy something, but I want to make sure I have the money allocated for it.).
5. Probably a 8 (or 8.5 considering it’s FREE). I like that its mostly automatic. Like I said with 2, we have to check in to make sure purchases are broken down and dropped in the right bucket. For instance a trip to Target could be $25 Home Supplies, $75 Groceries and $7 my personal budget (hello, lip gloss!), but we need to wait for the transaction to clear before breaking it down in mint. That usually takes a few days, so we keep the receipt and break it out later. For things like gasoline at Speedway, the charge always ends up in the right category.
6. Jonah Hill in Moneyball. All numbers, wicked smart, a bit clunky, doesn’t take itself too seriously!
*Not racist, honest-to-G-truth. Even the locals said so.
We live in such a tame area, so it’s kind of laughable and baffling that street racers have chosen our street… of course! But they woke our girl up in the middle of the night, so we’re gonna take ’em down 🙂
And I love your Jonah Hill from Moneyball budget. Johnny and I need to work toward that kind of balance!
1. I use YNAB on my desktop, and with a mobile app. I also check Mint occasionally to see all the balances of my loans/retirement in one place.
2. Manually. YNAB requires you to input every transaction manually. I prefer this because I know exactly where my money is going, and I feel the guilt if I overspend.
3. Alicia’s Awesome budget (I needed to inspire myself)
4. I check it at least every other day, usually more frequently. It really depends if I’m on a no-spend day or not.
5. 9- As much as I love YNAB, I still need to use Mint to get a long-term/overall picture of my finances. Plus, I love plugging different scenarios into Mint goals to see how soon I can pay off my loans, and how it will affect interest.
6. Hmm, never imagined my budget as a person. That’s a scary thought..
After all the rave reviews, Johnny and I are excited to try out the YNAB trial. It sounds great. And Alicia’s Awesome Budget is a way better name than Sebastian (no offense, Johnny) ;).
1. Super awesome personalized excel sheet! and Mint.
2. Both? Mint tracks automagically, but I also add manually to my excel sheet for awesome analasyses (sp?).
3. Erh, no human name, but the excel sheet has a file name? 2014 Savings Tracker.
4. Usually weekly, sometimes more often to add things manually to the excel and glance online at balances.
5. 8: Awesome, but sometimes I don’t check in as often as I should and spend more than I would like…
6. I’m going to have to think about this one. Someone who knows what they should be doing and reflects on this but doesn’t quite follow through all the time…
We’re fans of automagical and manual! too. So what would that make us? Automaguals? The Wonderful World of Automaguals. Okay, I’m going to stop… 🙂
1. Excel spreadsheet set up at the beginning of the month.
2. manually I guess. We use an envelope system so it’s pretty easy to see when the money is gone : )
3. The B-word
4. Only at the beginning of the month.
5. 9. It is great because everything feels so much more tangible our money is real now, not imaginary. If that makes any sense. Going to the bank to get cash isn’t as annoying as I imagined it would be.
6. Maggie Gyllenhaal because it is someone I really like and think is in credibly beautiful bu my husband’s luke-warm about her or the budget – but he does because he knows it’s for a reason!
2. Isn’t that the best? Parts of me realllly wants to go back to the envelopes for that very reason.
6. Such an amazing answer. And tell you’re husband to wake up — Maggie’s a babe.
1. Mint.com. Love it. Couldn’t live without it!
2. A mix of the two. Mint automatically puts it into categories and “learns” where you change the categories to if you do (for instance, it will categorize any gas station to gas and fuel except speedway which it codes to my husband’s expense category because I changed it a few times. Magic!!) However, I check it every day to every couple days and check the categories and recategorize if necessary.
3. Haha no, just mint… but now I kind of want to name it
4. Daily to every couple of days
5. 9.5 I love mint, I really do. It has almost every single feature that I want/need. The only thing I would change if I could would be in the goal section. Each goal you set has to be linked to a different bank account. I want to have multiple goals (i.e. down payment for house, emergency fund, summer vacation, best friend’s wedding) but I don’t have 5 different bank accounts! Wish you could “split” a bank account into different goals like you can with expenses.
6.Minkus from Boy Meets World. Overacheiving, nerd that really wants to be liked but you still kind of hate him.
5. I’m envious of your love of Mint. Don’t get me wrong, we’re HUGE fans, but we just can’t make it work for our needs.
6. High five for Boy Meets World reference.
1. Excel. I have used the same format I created for years and love it!
3. I had never thought about naming it before! Now I guess I need to!
4. Daily, Monday through Friday, never weekends. I work at an office job and it is just a habit the first thing I do is log into my bank account and credit card account and update my budget spreadsheet each morning. I update my weekend purchases on Monday mornings. I think it is just a procrastination method I have before doing “real” work each morning 🙂
5. 9 – I love my spreadsheet – I have a 2 tabs, one for checking and one for savings, and it is really easy to update and the forumlas to all the work.
4. Love this. We need to be better about creating a schedule/habit. I also really like the no weekends rule. All budgeting and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.
1. I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use.
2. I track everything manually.
3. Nope, no name 🙂
4. Daily, Monday-Friday ( I do this at work).
5. I would rate our budgeting system at 6.
3. Get on that naming business. If you’re spending as much time as we do with it, it deserves to be called something. 🙂
1. I use a three-prong approach: 1 Mint for the big picture, 2 GoodBudget app for keeping my husband on track with a virtual envelope system, & 3. a good old-fashioned budget binder that I downloaded from Couponing To Disney.
2. Manually enter items in the envelope system & binder, but automagically for Mint!
3. I printed out a cover page titled “Baca Budget Binder” because I really like alliteration!
4. Sometimes a couple of times a day with checking the envelopes and Mint. The envelope system gets reset every Monday morning, so I spend more time on it Sunday night.
5. 8 Only because I’d like to get better at it, learn more, etc. Exactly the reason for reading blogs like this one. (BTW, Thanks for hooking me up with Mr. Money Mustache!)
6. Which brings me to the person: definitely Mr. Money Mustache because now I think of him when I’m trying to reduce our expenses and raise our savings!
3. I’m allll about alliteration. Great name.
4. I like the weekly envelope system reset. That makes it seem much more manageable and would help us avoid running out of money completely by the end of the month. It’d also help us avoid spending on the weekends, which is usually discretionary spending anyway.
1) On a google docs spreadsheet
2) I manually track everything
3) When you asked this question, I realized that we always refer to it as “Austerity Measures.” As in, “Sorry, hon, due to Austerity Measures, we can’t buy any more wine this month.”
4) Usually once a month. I should check in with it more, but I don’t like cussing and it always makes me cuss.
5) Aw, why is Keanu so sad? Maybe he needs help with his budget. I would say my satisfaction level is a 6 most of the time and more like a 1 on the day that I go through everything.
6) I would like for it to look like Levar Burton (completely awesome) but it usually looks more like a beleaguered but scrappy street urchin from Les Miserables.
3. Hahaha. Amazing.
4. Also hilarious. But there might be a correlation with higher frequency of check ins and less cussing, too. Just a thought.
6. LeVar would be the best looking budget evarrr.
1. A spreadsheet.
2. I wish I could say automagically because it sounds cool, but I do it manually.
3. My budget’s name is currently FebBudget. Next month it will be MarchBudget.
4. I used to check my budget whenever we purchased something but I’ve been slacking this year. I’ve been checking it about every 2 week.
5. 4 – It’s been a little disappointing so far in 2014, haven’t been staying on top of it.
BONUS: Nicholas Cage just because of the current disappointment. It won’t look like him forever.
3. I’ve always liked people with compound names.
6. Hahaha. I feel ya.
1. handwritten spreadsheets. on notebook paper. we’re really high-tech.
3. eh, “the big book” I guess, because we keep our spreadsheets in this enormous binder we got from Edward Jones. but now I want to name it something cuter.
4. usually Sunday nights. we don’t really spend much throughout the week, and we pretty much know at any given moment how much we have in the categories we spend from the most
5. 9! it’s super easy, keeps us on track, and we don’t hate it.. I left out one point because we wish the numbers in the book were higher 🙂
6. I’m gonna say Audrey Hepburn. because I love her. and…because the budget is tiny…but beautiful? and well-rounded? yep. so Audrey.
1. Paper is the new iPad.
6. You might just have the best looking budget in all the land then. Congrats.
1. We use Google Drive and our monthly budget is broken down week-by-week on a simple shared Google doc.
2. Manually although I’d be interested in trying the ‘automagically’ method. Do you need a cape? Or a rabbit in a hat? Do we get to wear gloves? Oooh! Is there a lovely assistant?
3. Literally just “Monthly Budget”. Ugh. So pedestrian.
4. Dailyish. We have a quick chat about it every week and then just confirm that each purchase hit the bank correctly. Also we make minor adjustments here and there.
5. I’d give it a 9.5. It probably seems too time consuming to other people but I like having full control. Plus, not having to use Excel is a beautiful thing in my book.
Bonus: Our budget is Schmidt from New Girl. Slightly annoying/obnoxious but ultimately sweet and helpful…
2. Gloves are necessary. And a lovely assistant is provided free of charge for the first 60 days.
Bonus. This is probably the perfect answer. That dude is super underrated. I’d love for him to be our budget.
2. Semi-automatic – Once a week I pull down all expenses from my banking website, and import it into YNAB using it’s magical import feature. It does most of the categorising for me, so I just need to tag the few it missed. For grocery shopping I have to go through my slips (that I’ve kept in a folder on my desk), and categorise further – only necessary because I’m OCD. Ie. I’ve split “groceries” up into “Lunch”, “Pet food”, “Groceries”, “Non-food groceries”, “Snacks”, toiletries etc.
Then finally I check the budget to see if we are on target or are going to miss our goal for the month. Usually means dialing back on eating out or snacks.
Our Snacks budget is usually overrun, we have problems 🙁
Name… Budget… I guess…
Check it about once a week.
About 8 – it’s easy to use, the reports on YNAB are cool. Importing bank statements is pretty slick.
BONUS: It looks like someone dressed in a suit and tie, looking very sharp!
2. I still need to give YNAB a try. This makes me even more tempted to sign up for the free trial tonight to kick those tires. I’m pretty OCD, too, so nice work on specificity of your categories.
2. I used to break it up into categories, but bc I lived in NYC, even seeing just my midtown rent broken out depressed me. Now, i just track the end-balance monthly in my checking, savings, and brokerage accounts, which works even better for me bc it motivates me when I see how my bank account goes up. This is weird, but I actually don’t have a strict budget. I simply spend as little as possible while still achieving max utility and save where i can. Example: eating out was a priority for me. Clothes are not. So I spent whatever i wanted on restaurants (and cooked cheaply when I didn’t go out), but rarely shopped. I traveled about 10 days per yr internationally, but didn’t stay in fancy hotels. Etc.
3. Er, “finances” is the name of my spreadsheet.
4. Monthly, with weekly-ish check ins to make sure I wasn’t going off the rails. This may have to change when my bf and I get married, but we plan to put small monthly lump sums in separate accounts for discretionary spending for optimal do-what-you-want budgeting.
5. I’d give myself a 9.5 when I was working. Now I am a disaster of a grad student, but my non-budget worked well enough that I don’t have to worry about how much I spend during my 2 yr program on living and discretionary (and I was NOT a New Yorker who made tons of money). I’m convinced it worked well bc I didn’t force myself to stay within parameters, bc I unfortunately rebel wildly against parameters.
6. Samantha jones from sex and the city. My money lives life to the fullest and has no regrets.
2. What works works. And it sounds like yours is working.
6. Man, your budget is way cooler than mine. I’m embarrassed for our budget now.
1. Pen and Paper
2. Manually – pretty low tech, the most techie I get is using the online access to accounts our bank allows. I can transfer between accounts and because we don’t get paper statements anymore I use the account access to balance the checkbook.
3. No – excepting if “The Budget” is a name? But I kinda want to give it one now.
4. It’s a set it and check it if you need to see how much was allocated for a certain item system so about 2 maybe 3 times a week.
5. Oh maybe a 6 I like it for its simplicity, but we were just talking yesterday how we’re thinking about changing it up – we want to put more in savings than we do, and be more disciplined in our “misc” spending (we do budget for “misc”! It has its own line even) but we’re thinking we maybe need to be more nerdy about it and *gulp* track every single stinking penny for a while, cry, and then pick ourselves up dust the boots and with the knowledge gained change up how we do things.
5. Totally get that. We’ve been in a state of flux for the last six years. We’ve got an OK system now, but we’re feeling that same itch.
1. We keep track of our budget on paper. We are currently in a new experimental phase because we have moved and had some changes in our utilities. But hopefully next month we will have a more concrete idea of what our budget will look like in our new place.
2. We track manually.
3. Our budget doesn’t have a name. Some days we refer to it as our guiding light and other days it is a total fun sucker. Just depends on where we are that day.
4. We usually do a big evaluation at the end of the month. But we also check our account balances every week just to get a general idea of what we have available and how we are doing on our spending.
5. About a 7-8. I think for right now we have few enough expenses and we are achieving our savings goals. But eventually I would love to be more organized with it. Right now though working things on paper seems to be working just fine.
6. If our budget was a person it would probably be Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. So much wisdom but so few manners. Sometimes we really love our budget, but then it comes in and lays down some rude poorly timed reminder about saving money or something and totally ruins the moment. But, where would we be without our budget?
1. Nothing like the schizophrenic first few months after moving.
6. In but a paragraph, you’ve summed up our six year relationship with our freaking budget. Congratulations. 🙂
How do you track your budget? – Excel spreadsheet
Do you track your expenses manually or automagically? manually…I’m more connected that way. We are a month ahead, so we take out what wee need at the beginning of the month and divide it amongst the envelopes. I don’t track those items (a miraculous tip I borrowed from your everything else category!). If we are out of money before the month is over, too bad (although that has not happened once yet). I pay all I can right at the beginning of the month and then leave the cash for any items that are auto deducted in the checking account. Really the only category I have to track throughout the month is gas for my car.
Does your budget have a name? (Last Name) Cash Flow Plan
How often do you check your budget? Every payday I just update any of the auto deductions that came out (after checking the bank accounts to make sure all was done smoothly and correctly).
Scale of 1-10: how satisfied are you with your budgeting system? 10
[ 1 = sad Keanu // 10 = how you felt when you got your first NERF gun]
BONUS: If your budget was a person, who would it look like? – David Beckham…this way I don’t mind spending too much time with it AT ALL!!!
2. Congrats on not running out with the envelopes! We learned some pretty tough lessons when we were using them a few years ago.
5. Perfect 10! AWWW YEEEEEEEAHH!
1. Buddi & google docs spreadsheets. I love spreadsheets.
3. Never gave it a name before. Buddi, I guess. My pal in helping me achieve my financial goals.
4. Every time I make a purchase.
5. Um… 7, I guess. I know it works well, as I’ve doubled my net worth in the 5 years that I’ve been seriously budgeting. In that time I left a job, went back to school and started a new career.
1. I’m glad someone out there loves spreadsheets. For all the hating I do on them, they need some TLC.
5. That’s awesome! Congrats. That’s definitely a sign you’re doing something very right.
1) google docs – we have 2 tabs per month- 1 with income/bills/expenses, and one that has the expense categories broken down for tracking (with a link to pull the expense totals to the first page).
2) Manually – we mostly use credit cards, and enter the expenses from there into our budget. (all of our bills are setup for autopay)
3) no name, but our budget’s motto is “thrift is a sign of intelligence, any fool can spend money”
4) at least weekly, usually every few days
5) 8 – this has been working pretty good for us for several years, and it’s even better now that we’ve started tracking our Net Worth each month!
6) …why am I picturing Gru from despicable me?
3. That motto is bomb.com. Love it.
6. Haha. That seems entirely appropriate.
1. I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use for tracking.
2. Manually. 🙁
3. “The Budget” but when the month isn’t going to well, “The Stupid Budget”
4. I try to check it at least every other day. Because I enter everything manually, I can’t let it go for too long or we get off track.
5. I’ll give it a 7. Having to constantly enter in stuff is *really* aggravating, but we are getting really close to being 100% debt-free so it is obviously working well for us.
6. Probably like a boring accountant. No colorful clothing. Gray eyes. But really good at his/her job.
4. Same with us. As soon as we go three or four days, we feel like we’re barely treading water.
5. There’s some beauty in the pain of it all, especially when you look back and realize how far you’ve come. Congrats on being close to the finish line.
I also use HomeBudget! I recently started keeping track of my expenses and it is so empowering. But I have a quick question– how do you enter cash withdrawals into your expense category? I want the withdrawal to be reflected in the balance of my checking account on the app, but I don’t know the best way to enter it. Thanks!!
Hi Hannah! Good question! Johnny and I don’t actually enter our accounts in on the app, just our expenses, so we don’t actually have an answer for you. We don’t take cash out very often, either, so that’s never been a big issue. If you want to contact the app developers and see if they can help, here’s their contact page: http://www.anishu.com/contact.html
Sorry we can’t be of more help! I hope you figure it out!