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How do you budget your money?


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39 replies to this topic

#1 of 40 OFFLINE   Dave Poehlman

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Posted January 13 2005 - 05:31 AM

The Mrs and I aren't the most diligent people when it comes to balancing the checkbook and the holidays have left us a little in the red this year. So, one of my resolutions this year is that I've vowed to try and keep better tabs on where our money is going.

I was considering setting up a separate checking account strictly for paying bills and necessary things. Since my bank allows me to go online and set up automatic transfers, I could have it shovel the necessary funds over there every 2 weeks or so. Then, with whatever is left in our original account could get divided into savings and/or "fun money".

I'm just curious what sort of systems/tricks/incentives people use and how well they work.

#2 of 40 OFFLINE   Philip_T

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Posted January 13 2005 - 05:54 AM

I really wish my wife and I were better at tracking our checking account. We both used to be fairly good at it, but when debit cards came out and we started using them more than the checkbook, we stopped updating our check register as much. Too many reciepts to keep good track of unless you stay on top of it almost daily (for us at least) and I never carry the checkbook around anymore to be able to update the register after every purchase. One thing that worked (well, kinda) was creating an Excel check register that would take care of the math and was a lot quicker than using a manual register. We would pay bills online, then, open up the spreadsheet, update it with those transactions, then enter all of our receipts and misc. checks. Worked great until the Mrs. tried to sort the data columns differently and the whole thing got destroyed. Now, we just keep an eye on our balance via online more often. I think we've just accepted that neither of us any good at keeping update and accurate records for our checking account. I'm sure that there more sophisticated money programs out there than a homemade spreadsheet you could get also. I would like to try and keep better track of our funds as well, but my new years resolution was to quit smoking and thats enough of a whopper to keep me from making any others right now. :b

#3 of 40 OFFLINE   Jeff Savage

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Posted January 13 2005 - 05:55 AM

I have two separate accounts. One for bills, house, and car payments the other is for whatever. My employer splits up the money between the two accounts for me. Very easy. Most of the bills are on auto debit so it really is a set and forget it type of deal. I make sure there is enough money put in to cover the average range of bills. Whatever extra is left at the end of the year I use for Christmas.

I also use an Excel spreadsheet for a check register. Really easy..

Laters,
Jeff
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#4 of 40 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted January 13 2005 - 06:32 AM

I have a check register program on my palm pilot (Sony clie, actually). This makes it very easy to keep track of checks written, ATM withdrawals, card swipes, and online purchases, not all of which generate paper receipts.

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Dave Poehlman

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Posted January 13 2005 - 06:54 AM

Quote:
We both used to be fairly good at it, but when debit cards came out and we started using them more than the checkbook, we stopped updating our check register as much.


That's been our downfall too... we'd never had an ATM card until they turned them into credit cards. It was easy to track... of course, we were poor back then.. so it didn't matter much. Posted Image But now, we're much more spontaneous and we'll go to dinner with friends or whatever and it's too easy to just whip out the card.

Honestly, I'd like to get his/her checking accounts and keep things separate. But, that has an "I don't trust you" kind of tone to it. However, we've got friends that prefer it that way.

#6 of 40 OFFLINE   Tony Whalen

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Posted January 13 2005 - 06:55 AM

Budget? I don't understand this word? Posted Image

#7 of 40 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted January 13 2005 - 07:24 AM

I use Quicken 2005 as an aide with my budget. Most any financial planner will tell you that the key to a budget is extremely simple. Write it down and stick to it. If you sit down and actually write out where all of your money should go (with a little slack built-in for unexpected or luxury type stuff) and you and your wife work together and hold one another to the budget it's not too bad.

Additionally, you might check out Amazon or a local bookstore at some books on the subject. I won't mention my personal favorite because the author approaches family finances partially from a religious stand-point which isn't for this forum, but you may PM me if you would like the author's name.

#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Chris Hovanic

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Posted January 13 2005 - 08:34 AM

We use a super old version of quicken... (either 5 or 6.. the wif wont let me upgrade)

Its very simple to track the debit card action.

When I make a purchase with the debit card I always put the receipt in my wallet when i put the card back.

When I get home the receipt(s) go to my wifes desk and 3-4 times a week she enters them in quicken.

We bought one of those receipt spikes that you see at restaurants at the office supply store. Once she enters the receipt in quicken she spears it on the spike. The spike will hold about 6-8 months of receipts which is very handy when you need to return something.

Quicken does a great job of allowing you to track your money by setting up accounts/categories. Kinda disturbing when at the end of the year you run a report to see how much you spent on DVDs and CDs.

Good luck with your budget
Chris Hovanic
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#9 of 40 OFFLINE   Chuck Mullen

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Posted January 13 2005 - 09:07 AM

I know Micro$oft is a bad word around here, but I use Money. Very Easy.

We have a joint checking account for bills, and we both kept our individual accounts from before we got married. Works out pretty well.

Ric Edelmen (Sp?) said in one of his books that budgets don't work. Write down everything you spend for two months. Everything. Lunch, groceries, pack of gum, whatever. You will know after two months where you have to make changes. You may even be shocked at the results! Then again, what do I know, my cable bill is almost $150 a month!
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#10 of 40 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted January 13 2005 - 09:14 AM

My bank has an automated phone service that allows me to check on balances, see what cheques have cashed, yadda yadda.

So I write a cheque, keep the CC in the checkbook, call the bank everyday or so until it clears, then I can just press a button and get a total balance so I know what i have to spend.

I actually haven't written anything down in years
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#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Pamela

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Posted January 13 2005 - 09:26 AM

I have a simple Excel spread sheet. I list every expense I have each month (and I mean everything), how much pay I receive each month, and how much I have left over after all the expenses. I know how much each pay goes into the saving for my expenses, and what is left in the checking for spending.

I transfer the money over from the savings to checking as I pay my bills.

#12 of 40 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted January 13 2005 - 09:49 AM

When I accumulated $10,000+ in Credit Card debt, I found that the reason I had so much was that I wasn't paying (no pun intended) attention to how much I was spending as opposed to what I was earning.

I think a lot of people make the same mistake (once they get into debt) and try to fix the end result rather than nip it in the bud (that's like putting out a fire by dousing the top of the flame)...

Work on fixing your spending habits and not on fixing your debt. Once you stop spending, it's easier to pay off your debt because you're not accumulating more debt in the process.

What I finally did was, make a list of your monthly expenses, then figure out how much you need to spend on your credit cards (each month) to reduce them (i.e. paying more than just the interest). Once you do that, take the left over cash and make a MAJOR mental note with it (each month).

Anytime you need to buy something, subtract it from that extra cash and try not to spend more than that extra cash.

A trick my father taught me was, if I was going to use a credit card, make sure I put that money aside and didn't touch it. This way, I'd have the $$ when it came time to pay the bill.

The other thing is to not get frustrated. At first, it will seem like it's hard to get the bills down and it can be discouraging, but once they start coming down, they get easier to pay off. The first few months (to a year) is always the hardest part, but it CAN be done.

Again, just make sure to figure out how much extra $$ you REALLY have each month and try not to spend more than that. That's the key.

#13 of 40 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted January 13 2005 - 11:30 AM

*ahem*...once, my checking account overdrafted, but it was an honest mistake. I had pre-ordered something to my check card, and it wasn't going to ship for another two months. However, the company put a hold on my account to make sure I had enough money to pay for the product. Unfortunately, the cost of the product was more than I had in the checking account at the time. I went to the bank to try to straighten this out, and the banker said I could get the overdrafts cleared if I could show him my check register...which I had never updated since I first got my checking account. However, I check my checking account balance online daily, so I never spend more than I have. My check register is still blank. Is this a bad thing?

#14 of 40 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted January 13 2005 - 12:11 PM

I add up everything I owe for the month,and then divide it by how many weeks are in that monthPosted Image

Paying everything for the month is X.In order to pay X I have to save Y a week.

Z is what left over which I save or spend as I please.

Simple but true. I paid off all my cards years ago and shred them. I just have my mortgage & car(+insurance).These things take up about 70-80% of my income. I spend very little money otherwise.I dont own much and prefer it that way.

Things can sometimes get tight though around the Holidays or if I need work done on my car or need tires and such.

I do have a debit card. This way I can only buy what I have money for. No credit. I took out a $1700 loan to get a HDTV - the payment is nothing really,taken directly from my checking account.

Life is alot easier when you live simply.

#15 of 40 OFFLINE   todbnla

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Posted January 13 2005 - 01:48 PM

Count us in as another couple that uses debit cards and MS Money, the problem is, like mentioned above, you wind up with this mound of receipts that never get reconciled.Posted Image Ideally, they need to be done once a week or so, but, in the real world, I have gone a long as 3 months.Posted Image It seems the more we make it easier, the more we make it harder on ourselves...
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#16 of 40 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming

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Posted January 13 2005 - 01:55 PM

Quote:
Budget? I don't understand this word?

Me neither Posted Image

But seriously, I guess so far I've been lucky, I'm not extravagant or anything, always pay off credit card bills in full each month, and apart from the home and car have no debt. I've hardly ever kept track of my finances, save to check once in a while that the balance in my one and only account is basically going up and not down over time.

I really need to do more financial planning. (Cue hordes of financial advisors calling me non-stop advising on one thing or other...)

#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted January 13 2005 - 04:08 PM

Quote:
How do you budget your money?


Badly. Posted Image

Joe

#18 of 40 OFFLINE   Armando Zamora

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Posted January 13 2005 - 11:52 PM

Quote:
We bought one of those receipt spikes that you see at restaurants at the office supply store. Once she enters the receipt in quicken she spears it on the spike. The spike will hold about 6-8 months of receipts which is very handy when you need to return something.


Great idea. Trying to keep up with all the recipts is our biggest problem. I'll have to check into one of those.

We use M$ Money as well. It comes in handy when you have a question about a transaction and allows you to run various reports. If you categorize your purchases and transactions, it especially comes in handy at tax time.

#19 of 40 OFFLINE   Don_Houle

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Posted January 14 2005 - 01:31 AM

My wife and I keep separate accounts - it was just easier to do that than consolidate everything into a single checking and savings account. But, we handle our household budget as a single item.

My wife is really great at organizing (we call her "The Spreadsheet Queen") and not long after we got engaged, we sat down, figured out what our income was, what our bills were and how much we needed to save for our wedding (we paid for our own wedding).

I had begun using M$ Money to track my own spending before we were engaged, so I continued to do this so that I could know exactly where my money was going (it has great reporting tools!). However, our main budget tool is an Excel spreadsheet that has all the income and payment information. We make changes on a monthly basis to keep things running smoothly.

I make half of the bill payments from my account and she makes the other half from her's. We each have a budgeted amount of miscellaneous money that we are free to spend as we wish. The left over all goes into savings each month. We make this savings "payment" just like a bill and we NEVER lower this just to have more fun money!

We each have debit cards, but since the only money that we have in our checking accounts is our miscellaneous money, we can't really go over our budgeted amounts.

We also got an American Express Rewards card. AMEX requires you to pay off your balance each month so you can't carry any debt on the account. We charge things like gas, groceries and various other monthly expenses on this card and pay it off the following month (so technically, we're always a month behind on our budget). We earn points for various purchases and redeem them for hotel credit, airline credits, Home Depot gift cards, etc. It's a great way to make your spending work for you. AMEX also give you a great year-end report around tax time that breaks your spending down by category.

There are some great books about budgeting and financial plannning by David Bach. Very no-nonsense. You can probably get the idea from a quick read at the book store if you don't want to purchase them.

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#20 of 40 OFFLINE   Marko Berg

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Posted January 14 2005 - 02:41 AM

I have two simple rules:

1. Figure out how much is needed for all the new DVDs I want that are coming out that month. Put money aside for those.
2. Use whatever is left over to pay for living.

Not sure if you should be asking for money management advice on the Home Theater Forum. Posted Image


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