Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Budget 2014 // yikes //

Yet again, I'm writing such a grown up post.  I'm really not very grown up, nor am I really qualified to be giving "budgeting" advice.  Actually, how about not qualified at all?  Ok, now that we have that out I can get to the point...

Braedon and I didn't really budget our first year of marriage.  We would pull up an excel sheet and figure out numbers/ talk about a budget but we (I) didn't really stick to it.  I needed a bigger motivation and something that I could track my spending with other than our online account.  Braedon is much more savvy than me and has this great app that he uses to track our spending.  He keeps asking me to use it but I prefer to just write it all down.... I am trying though.  I mean, the app is at least downloaded on my phone.  

When I stumbled upon this post I decided we would try a new budgeting system.  Braedon was just happy that I wanted to budget- he didn't care how we would do it!  Head over to Rylee Blake's blog to see her original post about this budgeting system.  We tweaked a few things for it to fit for our us.  

Here is how we do it....

1. Figure out your average income per month (kind of self explanatory).  

Depending on my hours and the type of work I am doing with my patients my income varies so we just took the average of the past three months. 

2. Create a "bills" list 

I prefer to use a notebook, Braedon prefers to use an excel spreadsheet.  Our bills include things like: cell phone, rent, car insurance, gym membership, gas.  We also included our tithing, date night, and how much we wanted to save each month under the bills category.  Date night has always been important to us and Braedon has made sure that every week (since we met) we've gone on a one on one date.  I guess I have his parents to thank for setting that example!  

One you have this list, subtract your bills from your income. 


Total Average Income Per Month
- Total Average Bills Per Month
"Everything Else Money"

3. Everything Else Money

Ok so now you get to figure out what you want to spend on groceries and "other things" each week.  If you watch the video below (she is the original budgeter and knows way more than me) you will learn that the average budget for an American for groceries should be $100 per person per household per month.  So for Braedon and I we should be spending $200 per month on groceries.  This even includes toothpaste, paper towels, shampoo....ya....harder than I thought!  We decided we would shoot for $225 per month.  The "other" category is just spending money.  This would include eating out, that lipstick I really want from MAC, iTunes purchases, a McDonald's diet coke, etc.  We are on money saver mode (as are most newlyweds) so we agreed on $20 per week, which is $100 per month (for those of us slow with math).  What we don't spend we can add to our vacation fund, or save up for a bigger purchase like a new pair of Nike Free (hint hint, Braedon, cough, Valentine's day). 

This "other" category was mostly made for me.  I was feeling so guilty whenever I bought something for myself.  But with a set amount we've both agreed that we can spend each month it's made shopping much more guilt-free!   

Alright, now that you have these numbers you can make your envelope.  (I know, I know) You even get to carry this envelope with you everywhere you go, and keep your receipts inside if you'd like.  Side note: January is kind of a weird month because it doesn't have four weeks, but it all works out over the year so we just kept our weekly budget the same.  

You can create it however you want, but just make sure to have two columns.  One for groceries, and one for "other".  The side columns divide each week out.  I had to put the last week of January on the back.  

Ok, here's where you have to set some rules or this system will not save you any money.  Let's say one week we only spend $26 on groceries, so I have $30 left over.  Say I have been eyeing a new article of clothing and it's over the $20 limit for the "other" category that week.  If this is the case, I am allowed to borrow from that week the $30 I didn't spend on groceries, and add it to the "other" category (or just take the $50 and save it).  However, you CANNOT borrow from the next week!  If you borrow from the next week you'll just keep doing it from week to week, and won't be saving any money.  

This system can work whether you want to use a card, or cash.  We started out using our card but I was too tempted to just go over the limit so we decided to switch to cash.  I divided out what we're allotted each week and stuck in in the envelope.  I keep each weeks money separated with a paper clip.  You guys, this is serious budgeting!  

Here are a few tips that help us out with sticking to our grocery budget each week.  First, I write out what we'll have for dinner each day of the week (usually done the week before).  From there, I can create a grocery list of the items we will need to complete the meal if I don't already have them.  Buying groceries every week seemed really inconvenient to me at first, but after trying it I've decided it's not so bad.  We save a lot more on produce since we aren't wasting it from not eating it fast enough, and my lists are usually pretty short so the trip is super fast.  

The picture above is not a usual week for us, but with the holiday's we ate out a lot with family.  Bonus- my grocery list is a lot shorter!  

Side Note: before Braedon and I even started this we set goals for what we wanted to save for.  This definitely helped me feel like these goals were more tangible instead of just dreams we had.  Our big goals are saving for a house, a future family, and med school.  We set an amount we'd like to save for each of these things by the end of the year.  

We also created a vacation fund.  Braedon and I are in a unique situation in that we have income from random jobs that we don't include in our average monthly income because it's so sporadic.  This includes modeling money from me, and money from Braedon's window washing business.  We decided to put this "extra" money towards a vacation fund with the goal to save up to visit Cambodia.      It all just depends on what your priorities are.  Whatever money you have leftover from each week you can put towards something fun like an iPad, furniture, etc.  You'll be surprised at how fast it adds up! We have our "fun" money in a separate savings account and it's exciting to watch it grow.  Plus it  makes it easier for me to put our "extra" money towards our vacation fun rather than spend it on eating out, or clothes.  

I'm sorry this post was ridiculously long and probably really hard to follow.  You should just watch this video about it...