I came across a handful of people sharing pretty, organized budgets. So it’s my turn! This comes at a great time, as JHubbs and I are newly committed to paying down debt and keeping our money responsibly.
Our family is a minestrone soup of complementary skills. I am awesome with numbers and excel spread sheets – in fact, if I don’t have all the bills and expenses typed into my Google doc, I have stress dreams about surprise bills. JHubbs, on the other hand, loses papers and important mail as if he were training for it for the Olympics. On the other hand, my spending habits are like a strainer – if I find a way, it will be spent, and who knows on what. Chik fil a, Starbucks, a new book, it just seems to happen as if I walk around in a haze all day. JHubbs on the other hand, has rigid, unthinking loyalty to the budget and to not spending.
I thought this meant he should take over the budget, but I was wrong (for reasons I will not share to protect the innocent, haha). What it actually meant is that I need his help in learning to not spend OUR money. And he needs my help in attending weekly “budget” meetings!
So, here’s the breakdown. The budget itself usually looks something like the following. I left in what our usual budget amounts and payment amounts are, but I left out our after tax income just to keep things a little mysterious.
|Google Docs Spreadsheet… How I Love Ye|
We had separate budgets before, but this is the one we have together. We chose to stick with a “common pot” financial strategy because it goes along with the theme of our marriage – we have common goals, common needs, and we are both here to meet the needs of our spouse. Not to pass judgement on other families who do things differently! It just works better with our philosophies and goals for the future – thinking long term, if some day I am at home with tiny, tiny babies, I don’t want to go into it with the sense that the money coming in is “his”! We work for each other, not for companies.
There are four sets of two columns. These represent our incoming paychecks (that number is tallied at the bottom to keep track of our math). On the first and fifteenth, we’re paid in one bank account, and on the seventh and twenty-second, we’re paid in another. This works out GREAT to have income each week. Obviously we want to get to the point where we wouldn’t need it, but during this baby phase, when things still “pop up” it’s a huge comfort to know nothing will be “too bad” for too long.
Yes, even the colors mean something! The expenses in purple are weekly and constant expenses that only change if there are personal factors involved (I’ll discuss how we got those numbers later!). The expenses in blue are utilities and bills that we don’t see going anywhere for a long time – water, internet, etc. The random black one is just where I tally up all those bills so there’s one clear number to keep track of (sorry to be confusing!). Red numbers are debt! They are bright red and bolded so that every time we look at this sheet we can clearly see how enslaved we are – and how free we’ll be when we finally pay it off. These numbers change according to which snowball we are working on, but in general this is about what it looks like. The green numbers represent things that “come up” or things that are perhaps not common expenses (co-pays pop up, prescriptions, gifts to friends, and final debt payments).
Things We’ve Tried.
It may seem odd that we pay a certain amount towards our rent each week, but this is just one of a number of phases we have tried out. About two months ago, we were on a “one-paycheck” system in which we paid all bills except rent with one check and left the other in savings. It didn’t work for us, to say the least. So now we’re back to working with a full paycheck each week. Let’s hope it goes well!
|I could be more proud of this….|
I hope this is at least interesting, if not helpful. It really helps to look at something this disgusting to get me motivated to stop indulging* and start digging out of this hole**.
* The Pop-Up category this month includes a $350 debt payoff…. So I think we should get at least a little credit for that, haha. Pop-Ups are usually less that $200 total (And they’ve been coming down for a while! Hooray, habit building!)
**The debt category includes two cars and two intense student loans. This is not good credit and we are not proud of this, but perhaps that makes it a tiny, slightly, itty-bitty more understandable and less embarrassing? Maybe not. But… for what it’s worth…
Goals for the Future
I think it’s pretty obvious that we want to get out of debt. Over 30% of our income going to other people? Not cool. We also want to go down to a single-car family (think of all the stress and payments being gone!). For some reason, home-owning has never been the biggest priority for JHubbs and I, so we aren’t looking to invest in that any time soon.
Budget-wise, I don’t see us getting into any nitty-gritty long-term categories like “clothes” and “home improvements”. It makes more sense to us to have a larger “spending” budget that incorporates these things (plus gifts, make-up, home care items, etc) rather than a long list of things to keep track of on Excel.
So, that’s all! I hope you enjoyed a sneak peak into our home… and let me know if you have your pie chart somewhere out on the interwebs!