Budgeting your finances to suit your family is definitely trial and error. Every household has different dynamics and the budget will reflect as such. For my family, we try to hold fast to the suggestions from Dave Ramsey, but we have had to do a little tweaking. Actual budgeting began in January and we still go awry at times. We try to adjust the bi-weekly budget to fit our needs without being excessive in those needs. Keeping a chart on the wall in our office helps us stay focused on the task at hand which is becoming debt free. We chose to start with consumer debt. We want it all gone! I have many people ask me how we budget. I think people just aren’t sure where to apply what money and so forth. I am by no means an expert but I thought I would offer our format as help.
I do everything on paper which totally irritates my hubby. Quickens might as well be a foreign language! So I have endless sheets of paper. I have a list of all credit card debt with the minimum payment and date due. There is a combined list that has all debt, home, credit, car, school loan, utilities and so forth. That is the one I go by. That seems to be the easiest way for me to make sure everything is being paid on time. Each pay period I make yet another list of everything that is due in between that check and the next. Bills are paid and I allot a certain amount of cash to be taken out for gas/groceries/fun. That is where most of the tweaking comes in. Gas prices fluctuate and so does our driving. I literally will not go somewhere if we are running low on gas money. Groceries are continually a problem for us. We seem to always go over the amount allowed for groceries. Then there is “fun”. Everyone in my household deems “fun” in a different way. After the money is dispersed and cash has been taken out, the rest goes to whatever debt we are working on at the time.
At the start of the year I had a certain amount I wanted applied to debt each month. We were not able to make that goal for January but we surpassed it in February and March. My hubby has a side job that could help us reach our monthly goal, but we’d like to be able to meet our debt goal without the extra money. I would like to free up enough debts so the minimum payments from those make up our debt goal money. Does that make sense? I hope. There is also the list of “Extras” that I make at the beginning of the month. Since we have a hard time deciding what “fun” money is really for this list comes in handy. Any upcoming holiday or birthday will fall under this category for us. That would also include clothing or extra things for the house. This list seems to help us differentiate between things we really want to buy and impulse buys. I keep all my budgets for the entire year. As each budget passes I paper clip it together with the debt list on the top. Our goal is for the total number of credit debt owed to be substantially less by December than it was in January.
This certainly isn’t the “end all be all” of budgeting but it has helped us. Like I said, every household is going to be different, you just have to play with the numbers and styles that work for you! I am a black and white thinker and my hubby thinks outside the box. That used to cause so much friction with our bills, but now we play off of each other. Being open to each others’ different ways of thinking has helped with our budgeting. Believe it or not, all this budgeting has really strengthened our level of communication.