How You All Budget

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My ‘How Do You Budget?‘ post was a nice success, and the giveaway winner has been notified. Here is a breakdown of the replies:

Budgeting Pie Chart

I broke them roughly down into these categories:

Close Watch – People who simply monitor each and every expense closely.

Monthly Limit – When you pay yourself first, and give yourself only a set amount at the beginning of the month to spend.

Pen and Paper – People who track their budget using pen and paper.

Excel / Spreadsheet – People who track things using their own custom spreadsheet.

Quicken / MS Money – People who use the popular personal finance software.

YNAB – People who use the YouNeedaBudget system.

Other – Either there was only one of that type, or I couldn’t fit it neatly into any other category.

While there was no overwhelming favorite, there does seem to be a lot of people making their own systems using spreadsheets. That was actually a bit surprising; I thought there would be more Quicken/Money users. I’ll be honest, we’re still not budgeting. I think we as a couple are closest to the ‘Close Watch’, as we just try to watch what we buy on a regular basis. Of course, I’m sure there is some extra fat in there somewhere…

Thanks again to every for sharing!

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  1. Sorry I couldn’t post to the original questionaire – what a great question!

    I may write a more detailed post on it later.

    I use Quicken to do my budgetting. Although I use quicken budgets, I’ve never really paid attention to the budget reports as my categories are too complex to do proper budgetting – this is an important area of reform for me.

    Instead, what I actually do is have quicken enter my monthly recurring transactions (money in and out) 90 days in advance. I put place holders for spending allowance categories.

    As I move through the month I enter money actually spent and update the placeholders. Placeholder examples might be lunch, barber, groceries, misc.

    I’m concerned that the approach takes too much time, but it does accurately portray my cash flow on a 90 day basis. In general I know how much cash I have now, what I’ll be spending it on (within reason) and when I’ll be spending it. It also allows me to plan for expenses 90 days out.

    The downside of the approach is that it doesn’t handle accrual of long term expenses without creating LOTS of placeholder entries. That’s where I think quicken budgets would actually work well.

    Maybe one day if I could rationalize my categories (what quicken calls ledger accounts), I could use the budget more effectively.

  2. Anonymous says

    I don’t budget.

  3. I use a combination of spreadsheet and bank account. The bank account is handy because it I can set up electronic payments to all my creditors. Makes it easy to track monthly, quarterly, and annual expenditures. Very convinent and free.

  4. Would anyone share their Excel budget spreadsheets, with the numbers stripped out?

    I have been using Money for the past 6 years but had used an Excel spreadsheet before then. I think about switching back to Excel due to some quirks I don’t like with Money. Having some examples to build off of would be great to see.

  5. Mauder's Money Matters says

    I’m convinced that anyone who tries Mvelopes would never go back to using any other budgeting system. There is a bit of a learning curve because it’s a WHOLE new way of looking at and thinking about your money. However, I think the 30 day free trial is enough time to realize that you’ll probably never have as much control over your finances as you do using an envelope system that is designed specifically for the electronic world we live in.

  6. We use the “close watch” system, with me doing all the watching. If my husband splurges on something, I ask him about it, but he really doesn’t do it much anymore. We basically have all of our expenses down to as little as they can possibly be, and evaluate constantly whether we still need to spend on certain things (one of the things last year we decided we don’t need was cable). I know where I can get all of our everyday items the cheapest (dollar store, WalMart, grocery store, etc). We usually buy clothes, toys, and things like that second-hand. Anyway, for us a budget is pretty much useless, we’ve whittled it down as small as it can go now, without making major changes like moving out of our house.

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