From Hating Budgeting to Loving It
I used to hate the idea of budgeting, because I didn’t understand what it really was. But once I mentally renamed “budgeting” to “my spending plan”, I felt a lot better about it. That’s because a budget really is a plan for where you want your money to go when you spend it, and I enjoy making plans.
In fact I actually like looking at my spending plan now. It’s great. (It also helps that I’m out of debt except for our mortgage, so most of my money stays mine.) I track investments, savings, and taxes separately, and those come off the top before I start spending anything.
I do my spending plan maybe a little oddly. I have some expenses that I consider my “bare minimum” expenses, and then a bunch of things I like to spend money on that are flexible.
For the flexible ones, I don’t have any set amount, so long as I don’t spend more money than I have available (meaning in my bank account right now, whether it’s just on hand or whether I’ve saved it up over a few months for a specific purpose like a trip). That method works for me, which is what’s important.
Here are my bare minimum monthly expenses, if you’re curious. Note that some numbers are my share of the total bill, since my husband and I keep separate finances and split the joint bills.
Mortgage – $400 (my minimum share, but I pay more than this)
Escrow – $120 (my share)
Groceries – $150 (my share)
DSL – $25 (my share)
Electricity – $57.50 (my share)
Water – $30 (my share)
Netflix – $5.46 (my share)
Vet bills – $75-$112.50 (my share)
Gas – $40
Medication – $35
Life insurance – $16.70
Allowance/gas/clothes for my son – $140
Car insurance – $168 (but not actually paid monthly)
I also have some business expenses that are in a separate plan.
Everything else I spend money on is either “flexible” or paid in a lump sum out of money I’ve earned that month. I have a very detailed spreadsheet with all of my expenses on it, that includes the flexible items. My biggest flexible items are travel, (mostly-but-not-always) school-related spending for my son, eating out, gifts, and donations, in that order. So guess where I’m cutting back to send more to the mortgage…
How do you plan your spending? Do you enjoy it?