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Household Budgeting
oppression
titania82
While household budgeting is a very personal matter, I wanted to reach out to my flist for informal feedback. We need to get greater control of our finances and maximize budget predictability. We've tried several things and can't seem to stick with them, so- I'm thinking of moving to a cash only system of household budgeting (with online money movement for things like mortgage, car payments, etc.

Edit: This is along the lines of the plan on which I'm ruminating.

So for feedback, have any of you tried it and if so, how did it go/is it going?
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I haven't gone that far yet, but we're definitely on a budget these days. I've been using a product called Moneytracker that the credit union implemented recently. Its not bad in that it lets you categorize transactions, set up a budget, has a dashboard and other reports, and lets you manually track other assets and liabilities. I find its biggest drawback for me is the lack of adding manual transactions that will merge with debit card transactions.

There's something similar online called Mint.com, although its in beta I think. It lets you set up multiple accounts and updates nightly. Still doesn't allow for manual transaction entries, though. I think there's one out there that does, and has a mobile version so you can enter purchases from anywhere as well as receive alerts when you approach certain budget limits.

I've found (at least so far) that creating a budget cut back our eating out immensely. $10 here or $30 there doesn't seem like much until you have to look at a report that tells you you spent $300 on eating out in a month. For some categories though, its just a harsh reminder of how much we're spending on things that we can't really cut back any more on.

I thinking it might be time to go that far. I'm getting so afraid that if I'm not doing a good job at money management now, how on earth am I going to manage with a kidlet? Also, I notice how much we spend on meals when we have friends over...I can leave the grocery store with $200 of stuff and then not have anything left over for us to eat during the week- and then what do we do- Eat Out!

I've tried yodlee and mint, but none of them work with my credit union (XFCU) and my credit card co's don't seem to like them either :c( I downloaded a trial of Money- and well, that just takes too much frikin time to set up!

Need: budgeting method for the lightly lazy!

You could always switch to GTE and use Moneytracker. ;)

There are some decent free online budgeting apps out there if you feel like Googling. I've never had a huge issue with getting Money set up, and I'm debating buying a new copy just because it was that simple (although it could be that I had used to for 3 or 4 years and I'm just used to it). The worst part you may find is that you'd have to manually enter some (or all) transactions.

You may want to check into some of the tips around online for reducing spending overall too, I've noticed it helps cut into our grocery bill (at least until I started regularly shopping at Whole Foods...)

If you figure it out, let me know! :)

HA! If my house were the size of yours I'd get a roommate or 4 and not worry about it :c) Just kidding of course.

How's life with no car payment?

Well, she has one, which I will likely get to keep paying. Oh well, at least it's only one!

Yeah roommates are probably a good plan, but I was kind of hoping to try and live alone for a little while - I've never really done that.

Household budgeting

(Anonymous)
How are you all doing. I was checking on you at my space and went here to your live journal.
Jess and I use microsoft Excel to begin with and keep the budget with in that. There is software and fancy stuff like that out there but if you have freshman understanding of excel you can format it the way you want and I think it is more predictable because I have programed it to do what I want it to do. Nothing more, nothing less. So, we use that space and type in all that bills that are predictable, i.e. car payments, mortgage, utility bills, all those items that are relatively consistent and only fluctuate by about an average of $10.00. We also list any of our savings projects that come out monthly for deposit here. Now the next part takes some discipline; we budget our spending. We have a budget for groceries, household needs and repairs, car needs and repairs- oil changes, maintenance. We also list this on our Excel sheet. Then I set up Excel to do a little basic accounting: add debits. subtract total debits from total credits; that kind of thing. Then hopefully in the end there is some money left over that we can roll into savings, a home renovation or maybe a date :).
We tried to move to cash only to control our spending but with that kinda cash in hand I tended to think I had more cash than I did. For me spending became easier. So, we moved to re-loadable cards. But before we did this we became more comfortable with the corporate practices of Wal-mart but that is a whole other story. We grocery shop at Wal-mart and we get our gas there so we have re-loadable Wal-mart cards. It makes us more conscious spenders and shoppers. We don't stop everywhere and just spend and not realize because first the money is already spent on the card, second we have to think before we spend. It works for us and I think we are happier for it. Takes all the guess work out.
Hope that was not to long winded. How is everything going? I saw you added grad school to your profile; how are you liking that? How is the better half? I do hope that all is well.
We have moved back to Pensacola and aside from a few needed home repairs all is well. Donovan is in 1st grade and smart as a whip. Jess has been trying the stay at home mom thing and she is great at it but I think she is getting restless. I went back to school for an engineering degree. the transition is going well. It feels as if life is progressing as it should.
I would love to hear how things are going and what you are up too. Peace from Paul
Fucile37@gmail.com

I'm starting to switch to a cash only system for "frivolous spending". That is, we use the credit card/checks for groceries ($100-$120 per week), rent, clothes (limited to $100 per person per month), gas, bills/insurance, and our once a week eating out. Every month, after i get the bank statement, I subtract debits from credits, see if we've met our savings goal for the month. Any extra money, we have the option of converting into cash, and spending however we want to: eating out more, lattes, movies, books, necklaces, decoration stuff, etc. Birthday and Christmas checks can also be automatically be converted into cash.
There's always a few months where there's nothing left over after savings (mostly, the months in which car insurance is due). But, its not a huge deal.

Tough when trying to save

(Anonymous)
My one gripe about a cash system is that if you're hoping to accrue extra savings from under-spending on budget items (above and beyond the savings already budgeted for, which we, incidentally, don't have the flexibility to do), it's extremely tempting to just spend the whole envelope. We did a cash system for awhile, but where we could have trimmed back our food budget by eating out less or eating more affordable meals, we'd buy the best, instead.

We use mint.com, and Cha Ching on the computer. I'm slowly getting everything set up on Splash Money which will sync purchases on the iPhone to the computer. I think it also does some syncing with your online banking and credit cards, but I haven't inspected that yet. It's all less than a week old.

Our MOST beneficial practice ever was getting a PayPal debit card. All our fun money comes from what we sell either on eBay or etsy or whatever. If there isn't money going to PayPal, then we can't eat out. Of course, it only works when you have wads of de-cluttering to sell off! ~Deedee

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