Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mid-Week Money Tip - Budgeting

Do you have a budget? Do you USE a budget? :) We have used a budget since the first few months of our marriage and it has really helped us!

I first started using a budget because as a new, young wife handling the majority of the shopping, I had no idea how much we **should** spend at the grocery each week, on entertainment, clothing, personal expenses, etc. I needed some kind of guideline. So, I did some research and found Crown Financial Ministries.

(I was using their book at the time (which has since been republished) . . . no website in 1998!)

They had a great, sample budget that I used and modified just a bit to fit our needs. To this day, I still use their online calculators to help set initial budgets (for our family or others). They have fantastic calculators that can help you quickly set up a basic budget. My favorite is the Spending Plan Calculator which takes your income and subtracts your tithe (if you tithe), and then gives a breakdown by percentage of what you should spend for each category. Although each family is different, this will certainly help you get started and form the 'bones' for a workable budget for your family!

Beyond that? We use the envelope system, which we were also first introduced to by Crown. Dave Ramsey also recommends using envelopes for cash. You can find more info on the envelope system here and here. These are the actual envelopes we use.

It's a bit pricey to get the binder to start with (especially if you are frugal!), but you can purchase refills for it, making the binder a one-time-only purchase.

And if you like the idea of the envelope system, but do not physically want to carry the cash, envelopes, etc. - you can always use YNAB!

YNAB (You Need A Budget) is online software that does it all for you. Budgeting, tracking, fixing "leaks" in your budget, and more. I have not personally used YNAB because we like the physical envelopes (they help us spend less, too), but I have heard great reviews about YNAB. It is also a pricey initial investment, but many people feel it is worth the expense!

Do you have any budgeting tips or tricks? What works for you? What doesn't?


Trish said...

Your post is so timely for me, Amy. My hubby's pay structure just changed and we were just discussing that we need to update our budget. You've got some good resources here.

Don Current said...

My wife and I are big Dave Ramsey fans. Learning to live on a budget was life changing in itself, but when my employer went bankrupt, it made all the difference in the world to not be in debt and to know how to live on a budget.

We're big cash envelope system people as well. My wife has one of those plastic accordion type file systems for ours now. It works great if anyone is looking for a cheaper alternative. And of course plain old envelopes serve the purpose just fine as well to get started.

By the way, you've got a beautiful family. I love how they're so prominently displayed on your blog.