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March 01, 2007


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This probably isn't very constructive, but I know of your love for the NY & Co. - they are having a huge sale right now - 50% off everything in the store! (You can justify it - see, it's saving!)

I am in complete and total awe!! The layout you have is perfect for the four week thing you were telling me about. Totally inspiring me for somewhat of a revamp on our sheets! I like how you have it laid out so exactly.

If I were brave I would track my grocery budget/actual to a tee. The usual budget works out to $500 per month ($50 included for diapers and pull-ups) but somehow looking at our statement we always hover nearer to $800. Maybe I don't want to admit to myself what it actually costs to feed our family of 4 in a healthy way. Sad, sad, sad.

You have totally inspired me!

Definitely not bored. Slightly jealous. I have a very similar system set up. I track our expenses on a sheet of paper each week. I have the first week's done. The blank sheet for the 2nd week is sitting in my bag now. We are nearing the end of the 3rd week and that sheet is also blank. I got discouraged when I blew the budget the very first week (I decided that I needed to take a HypnoBabies childbirth class, too bad it costs $250). I got discouraged again on Saturday. I managed to come up with a whole week's menu, and the grocery list only had 11 items on it! The bill should've come out to $60. BUT I decided to go shopping when I was hungry, and I spent $95 instead. I also needed a boom box to listen to the aforementioned HypnoBirthing CDs on. I got it for $25, but then I had to throw in a $20 DVD! Grr.

How funny- I am also trying to budget more wisely for our little family. We want to buy a house by this time next year, so things have to change. And I won't be paid in the month of June (welcome to adjunct hell, btw!) and I need to have those expenses covered as well. I find that putting things on paper (or in Excel) really makes an impression- how much money I could be saving if I didn't blow a hundred bucks at (regular) Target when I get paid.

Budgeting gives me agita. Harumph!

I might have just shed a little tear...not out of happiness for you of course (although yay for you guys...am jealous...no seriously...yay!) but because I just realized how much living in friggin Massachusetts really cuts into my whole savings plan. I mean $585 for rent...really??? And this is not the ghetto? Or rat infested??? Or like just A single room??? I pay more than double that for rent and our rent is cheap...CHEAP!! And this isn't even near a city! Just be happy for your geographical positioning on this lovely map we call America. (And while I do realize that there is the whole higher cost of living/higher pay thing, the Northeast [especially Mass] is actually taking some heat right now for the complete lack of balance on that equation.) But really, I do hope this all works out for you and Luke!

I only wish I could be that organized when it comes to spending and saving money. Maybe once our home computer is back up and running I can create my own SS or use Microsoft money to help with saving and budgeting.

Heh. We are always going back over our finances. Chris, like you, does most of the bill paying in our house. Excel is great too...I used it to map out a couple of possible savings and car payoff scenarios.

The thing that we did at the beginning of the year, which I think is really helping this process and make it faster, was buying Quicken. It was $40-60 (intuit.com), and we were able to buy and install it online. The thing that makes it easier is its ability to download all of our bank transactions automatically...then we just have to categorize them.

I know thats another expense, but the way we look at it, our time at home is precious, and the less time we have to spend actively inputting data like that....it pays for itself in the first month.

Of course, some Banks (Chase) charge an extra $10/month to do the automatic downloads...but it still ends up making sense in our budget. Just a thought (it also does nice graphs and helps do budget analysis.

No, not bored. I love this.

When you figure out what to do about the grocery shopping thing, let me know. I have that same problem. Except there isn't a grocery store in downtown (I order groceries online) and it just isn't working. I need a better system to.

HOORAY for saving money. Hooray for buying a house and hooray for (then being able to) having a baby!

"any month-end surplus"? I am seething with jealousy. We don't even have room for eating out in our budget (which doesn't mean we don't do it)...so good for you guys.

I am still not quite getting the spreadsheet. I may need remedial help. As it does every year, our tax refund has inspired me to stop using our (0% interest) credit card.

1 - Are your 401K, HSA, and savings contributions not automatically come out of your paycheck? I record bring-home pay so I'm trying to make sure we are on the same page here.

2 - For each of the variable expenses, do you keep a running weekly tally in each category? For instance, if you spend $5 on Monday at McDonald's, and then $7 on Tuesday at Chipotle, and nothing else the rest of the week, is your dining total for that week $12? At first I thought you were recording every transaction in its own little cell.

I have not thought about doing this weekly instead of monthly. It's a great idea and speaks to the control freak within me.

You worry too much about not giving your posts face time. I know I for one always check the next post to see if I've read it. You're definitely WORTH IT!

Great questions, Erika! Here are your answers:

1) Yes, those deductions come directly out of our paychecks, and we base our budget on our take-home pay. I just like to record those on the spreadsheet for the sake of knowing how much we're contributing to those accounts on a monthly basis.

2) Yes, we tally receipts for each category and enter one total for the week. There's no way we'd have room to record every single transaction.

If you sign up for auto-electronic-bill-pay for your repeater bills (like Cingular and utilities), they don't bill you till just before it's due so you never have late fees, you don't have to think about it, you get a record of it in your e-mail, AND you get to be earning interest on your own money until the last minute.

Also, keep just what you need in your checking account for bills and ATM/debit card. Put the remainder in one of those online-only savings accounts (like Orange or Citibank eSavings) and you get interest that's at least as good as CDs are giving these days.

Oh, I'm not a financial person. These are just things that work for me.

(p.s. I agree the "air time" thing doesn't matter. I always check to make sure I haven't skipped anything.)

I'm not bored. I'm not bored at all. I was actually thinking that I need to start doing something like this so I really know where my money is going (Starbucks, Target, eating out, etc...the first step after denial is acceptance, right? Or something like that). I am the queen of a few dollars here, a few dollars there kind of spending and then I wonder why I don't ever have enough money to make larger purchases on things I'd really like (art for the house, furniture). My point is (I think I have one anyway) is way to go! Can you send me a copy of your template? That would be so cool.

I was NOT bored, or freaked out, by this entry. Why? Because you and my husband must be long lost siblings. I think I may have even caught him talking lovingly to his spreadsheet now and then. And he has a spreadsheet for EVERYTHING...all the credit cards, how much progress we're making on the mortgage, our monthly budget, my income from making cakes, etc. etc. I just assumed everyone did this!

Oh, and he records EVERY SINGLE TRANSACTION. There is no grabbing a starbucks without him knowing.

Since you linked back to this post in your current post, I'm commenting on it now for the first time, here in 2009 just to say - we have almost the exact same spreadsheet that we made up on our own and it was so helfpul (only we included percentages as well). We have been blessed not to have to live on a budget in the last few years but it is definitely handy in seeing whether maybe we need to start, analyzing what's been happening, and figuring out if we could live on 1 salary (which we can't :( ). Anyway - just wanted to say - I'm with you on this one! Good luck in your new 2009 budgeting!!!

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