I need budget help... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 07-26-2004, 02:06 AM - Thread Starter
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DH and I are trying to create a budget for the first time--ugh...we both hate dealing with money matters, but I need to stop overspending.

I put a bunch of my info into MS Money tonight (already had it on the computer, don't want to spend $$$ to buy something new). But what I am lacking is guidance on *how much* I should budget for household supplies, groceries, gifts, etc. I put all the regular bills like utilities in, they are done. But I am stumped on the variable stuff.

Any suggestions for a good website (preferable) or a book that I could maybe check out from the library (don't want to spend $$$!!!!)

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#2 of 7 Old 07-26-2004, 02:09 AM
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To figure out the variables, I would look over your last few months of expenses- take the highest one and use that as your budgeted amt. You could also add a misc category for gifts, etc.

Have you tried to google 'budget' or something like that? You might get some good websites.

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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#3 of 7 Old 07-26-2004, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ksmeadowlark
But what I am lacking is guidance on *how much* I should budget for household supplies, groceries, gifts, etc.
It's totally dependent on what your family is willing to spend. We spend $200-ish a month on food and household; some people spend that every week. We spend about $300 a year on gifts, some people spend more than that on each other's birthdays. I'd look at what you have been spending the past few months and decide what's reasonable based on that.
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#4 of 7 Old 07-26-2004, 10:04 AM
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Maybe look at your check book register or if you can access your checking on-line try to pull out about 3 months worth of stuff & separate out what you spent on grocery, etc. That helped us.
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#5 of 7 Old 07-26-2004, 05:30 PM
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Can you afford to play with the budget for a few weeks? I.e. instead of setting a budget for household things tonight, start keeping a notebook of what you spend. Keep a really close, detailed ledger for a few weeks. Catagorize things by groups like "groceries" (actual food,) "household" (cleaning supplies, toilet paper,) "cosmetic" (shampoo, soap, etc.,) "car" (gasoline, oil changes, etc.,) "medical" (otc meds, vitamins, prescription meds, etc.,) "dining out" (including small snacks at work or a candy bar you pick up at a gas station.) Then you can make averages for what you've spent in those weeks, determine where you can be cutting back comfortably, and even start keeping a price book.

If it's critical to start budgeting right now, well, figure out your bills and how much money you have left, allot yourself some of that (but not all!) in cash, and try your darndest not to touch a cent of what's left in the bank for the rest of the week. Do the same every week. And keep the ledger I mentioned above. After a few weeks, you'll be able to determine if you can or should revise your alloted amount a bit. Via that, you'll be able to figure out what you can't live without, and what is truely a luxury or convenience, and set a good, solid budget.

The way I kept this ledger, back when I was vigilant about such things (and I am about to start doing this again) was to take a small-ish notebook that was easy to carry with me (I liked a steno notebook for it's size and top-spiral binding, but I ignored the steno line down the middle of each page.) I listed catagories on the first page, and gave them each a one-letter identifier so I could catagorize purchases easily on the rest of the pages. I divided each page into columns for date, description, price and catagory. I would put the date only at the beginning of a single day. If I went to, say, a grocery store, I would list the name of the grocery in the description column, then start listing every single item I bought (including weight if neccisary,) it's price and the catagory it fit in. At the end of the week, I could review my spending and say "Ok, I see I spent x amount of money on groceries that were really undeniably reasonable (i.e. flour, apples, broccoli), y amount on groceries that were more luxury (i.e. ice cream, canned soup), and z amount on groceries that were serious luxury (cherries in December.)" And I could easily transfer those prices into a price book later.

*sigh* Well, I have a steno book here... I guess I'd better get busy setting it up. I need to get back on track here myself. I'm so good with this stuff in theory... I need to get better in practice
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#6 of 7 Old 07-26-2004, 05:43 PM
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Here's a guideline that I'm finding useful. I got it from a financial planning website:

The percentages are all taken off your gross pay.
mortgage/rent: 30% or less
taxes: 24% or less
household expense: 24% or less
insurance: 4% or less
transportation: 2% or less
savings: 15% or more
(includes groceries, daycare, gifts, basically everything else you spend money on)

I am spending way more than 24% on household expenses and am trying to get a grip on that. However, I'm paying significantly less than 30% on my mortgage payments, so that's good. And my taxes are under 10%, well below the guideline recommendations. Anyway -these guidelines are not perfect, but they are what I'm starting from and from here I'm developing my own budget.
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#7 of 7 Old 07-26-2004, 05:49 PM
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It's not budgeting- but this helps with overspending- read "Your Money or Your Life" - track expenses, then calculate how much life energy that equals (after calculating real hourly wage). It helps to look in those terms and decide which expenses are "worth it."

In the book, the authors claim budgets, like diets, don't work and offer this approach.

Being right is not always fair, but being fair is always right
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