We didn’t stumble on our blog name by chance. After all, it’s pretty long, weird, and includes a quasi-obscenity that was banned in both of our households as kids (sorry moms!). But the reality is there was no other name as fitting for our blog than the darned thing that was most responsible for getting our financial lives in order: our freaking budget.
Everything starts with a budget. As Dave Ramsey preaches, budgeting gives every dollar a name. You’re in control of your money’s destiny for that month. We’ve found that the months we haven’t kept a budget, all we can do is hope that we’ve stayed out of red at month’s end. And that’s a terrible feeling month after month. So we cleaned up our act and started keeping one faithfully a few years ago. That doesn’t mean every month is rosy posy (is that even a saying? Let’s pretend it is. Thanks). We’ve had a tougher time tracking our expenses since Baby Girl’s arrival, but this is our call to repentance. It’s time to shape up or ship ou… that doesn’t make sense either. I’m done with sayings in this post.
A few months ago, we shared our monthly budget for January. Since we’ve got a few new readers here now (howdy, folks), we figured we’d share our budget for the start of the second quarter of 2013. Any changes from our January budget are noted in parenthesis.
Our April 2013 (Q2) Budget
|Rent: $1300Utilities: $465
Everything Else: $550
Total Expenses: $2835 (-$43)
Church/Charitable Donations: 10% of gross income
Savings: 35% of net income
Pre-Tax Retirement Savings: 8% of gross income
A Few Notes
- Rather than budget every single item out, we have an “Everything Else” category for all the expenses that can vary from month to month. As long as we stay below the total amount budgeted for that category, the money can be spent where needed each month. The flexibility that comes with doing our budget this way has made it much easier to stay within our spending limits, and it has drastically cut down on disagreements. Some months it might go to an unexpected medical expense; another month a big chunk will go to clothing or hair (read: Joanna’s hair). But we make sure the total money allotted to that category is never exceeded.
- For expenses that change unpredictably, such as utilities, we budget a little more than we’ve ever actually needed so that it never hurts us if a bill is unexpectedly high one month.
- To keep track of our budget, we use HomeBudget for iPhone. The app syncs with both of our phones so it’s always up-to-date and ready for budgeting madness on-the-go. It costs $5 (which is the first app we’ve actually ever purchased), but it’s been worth every penny.
Changes to Our Budget
Things shifted a lot more than usual between our January and April numbers. In utilities, warmer weather means less gas/heating, so we gained a few bucks there. But our water bill is on the up and up as a result of more laundry thanks to Baby Girl’s propensity to poo and pee on herself and us whenever we remove her diaper. Joy. And then I looked into and successfully enrolled in our work’s cell phone reimbursement plan for an extra $50/month. Boom goes the dynamite.
On the food front, we’ve shifted some grocery money over to eating out money to ease up the burden on cooking/making lunches for these first few post-birth zombie months. But that number will likely start to shift back to more grocery spending through the months.
Perhaps most surprising is that our Everything Else category hasn’t changed, despite all of the new baby expenses (diapers, toys, 6-month outfits for our not-even-3-month old 95th% height/weight beast baby, etc.). While those have definitely increased, our entertainment and personal expenses have never been lower. So I guess that’s an unplanned perk of having a baby. We’ve also entered the birthday drought of the year for our families, so we only have one or two gifts to buy over the next five months.
How’s your monthly budgeting going? How does our April budget line up with yours? In which categories do you spend more or less?