Monday, June 6, 2011


So I had hoped to have some fun garage sale finds or an awesome new recipe to share, but alas it was not to be. My iron stomach was defeated this weekend by the dreadful stomach flu plague. Yes, it had been since the 6th grade that I had vomited and yes, it was just as bad as I remembered. But enough about that unpleasantness. So instead of vintage bargain finds and new delicacies, today you will be subjected to the topic of budgeting. Big sigh (I know, I know, everyone's favorite topic). Not because I am an expert, and not because we are great at it, but because we are finding what works and what doesn't and because I need some help.

I have a love/hate relationship with Dave Ramsey. Love his principles, love his story, love his encouragement, and love his radio show (ok, I admit to becoming a little teary on Fridays when people call and share their stories and then exuberantly yell "WE'RE DEBT FREE!" So inspiring.) The hate part come in with the difficulty of making wise but not always fun choices. But as Dave always says, "The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan." And I think a big part of the plan is a budget.

We have worked out a monthly budget that works for us. Some tips that we have found for making it work are:

* We have categories for "Aaron's hobbies" and "Susie's hobbies." This is nice because it gives us some guilt free money to use as we want. It can roll over as needed, especially if one of us wants to save for something bigger.

* We move our monthly savings into our savings account at the BEGINNING of the month. Then it is gone...out of sight, out of use!

* At the end of the month we figure out if we have any money left over from the month then this gets moved to savings. Again, out of sight, out of use.

* We leave some wiggle room in our budget. We have a miscellaneous category and it gets used up every single month. You know, for those things that just happen and don't really fit in any particular category but always add up.

*We have a monthly budget meeting. This is when we transfer savings, adjust categories if needed, write tithe checks, etc. It is good for us to be on the same page and talk through stuff.

Now lest you should think we have it all together let me quickly put a stop to that!! We always, ALWAYS go over in at least a few categories of our budget- can we say eating out :) We would do well to follow Dave's advice and stick to the envelope system in this area. Ugh, but I really don't want to.

We started out using Quicken Online for our budget and then when they were taken over by we just switched to Mint. I really do not like We have found it to be very user unfriendly and dumb (haha, as dumb as a computer program could be). Quicken used to "learn" from how we categorized transactions and then automatically apply that to future similar transactions. Mint doesn't do this and it drives us crazy.

So I need your help. Do you use a budgeting website or software that you recommend? Please pass it on! Also share any tips you have of what works well for you.

Note: I asked Aaron what picture I should use for this post and he readily modeled for me. No actual restaurant savings cards were harmed during this photo shoot.


Christian @ Modobject at Home said...

Check our -- it's an online "cash envelope system" where you create envelopes for each category, designate budget amounts, and then sinc up your online accounts and transactions to it. It's really great.

Sarah M said...

I have an excel spreadsheet with formulas that we use. :)

Loved your eggplant parm recipe!

Jo-Jo said...

I am so proud of you for using a budget! Very responsible and I love you both for not over spending and using credit cards! Well - I just love you anyway! Can't wait to see you all soon. So sorry that you were sick this weeekend! Reminds me of the night of the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree when I got the stomach bug ("real bad"). :)

Joey and Elizabeth said...

Thank you for posting this! The budget is something that I HATE... Joey and I have changed ours a LOT over the past few years, and I know it will continue to mold & change as we figure things out (if that ever really happens!).
When he gets back, we're signing up for Financial Peace University - I just think it will really open my eyes to all the ways I could be saving instead of throwing away!
We used Mint for a while, but we signed up for a year of Pear Budget back in January. I used to love it... but when he deployed and I went to MS for two weeks, I forgot a/b entering things in & became daunted by the task of going back & entering them.
We are very much so a work in progress! Please continue to post on this if you have more thoughts or good advice... it's something that I hate but definitely need to hear!!

Susie said...

@ Christian: Thanks! Sounds like what we are looking for. Will check it out later.

@Michelle: If only I were as talented at excel as you!! glad you liked the eggplant!

@Mary Jo: Thanks!! Love you too.

@Elizabeth: Thanks for your sweet comment. Yes, budgeting is so not fun or easy. Will try to post more on the subject.

Amanda said...

I'm still laughing at your last sentence! The Dave Ramsey envelope system is something that i have been trying to do, but for some reason, cannot get on board with it. :/ I want to, but I just DON'T. ARG.

Christina said...

I envelope our Grocery/Walmart money and then part of our "Misc" category. I used to try to over-categorize ours and it drove Thomas (and me) nearly mad trying to determine exactly how much money should go in "Cole's winter clothes" fund. Now I use an excel spreadsheet that I've tweaked for 2 years and I think it finally is as close as I'm going to get to what works for us. Now our misc category encompases clothes, eating out, garage saling, and whatever else random that we need that's in the "consumable" category not the "necessity" category. We still go over every month in some categories and ahve to move money around, certainly a work in progress, but at least I can see where the money's going and adjust it for the next month.