Thursday, February 7, 2013

The "B" Word

The dreaded "B" word that absolutely everyone hates...

I am in no way a financial expert, in fact, quite the opposite. I am embarrassed to admit that up until last year I was quite the financial mess. I didn't budget, I didn't track my spending, I made horrible financial decisions and I'm paying for it. Literally. 

Jason and I lived together for 4 years before getting married but we didn't have a joint account until after the wedding. We just split the bills and were otherwise responsible for our own spending and let me tell you that was a disaster. I remember reading somewhere that the number one cause of marital trouble is finances, so you know me (a total spaz) I began to worry that if we didn't get our ducks in a row we were doomed.

Last year (2012), we made some financial changes that have really helped get us on track and have made a world of difference in terms of the "B" word.

1. We got a joint checking. Not to say this is the way to do it for all couples, but having a joint checking account makes paying bills a hell of a lot easier! It's also made us both a lot more financially responsible, when you're sharing money you tend to be smarter about what you're buying. 

2. We communicate, a lot. I think this is the absolute most important thing you can do. We always tell each other what we've spent money on no matter how small the purchase so that we are both aware of where our account stands at any given time. Online checking also helps a ton because we are both able to check our balance on a daily basis. 

3. We have separate accounts too. We have a monthly allowance that we give our personal accounts and we can spend that money as we choose, no questions asked. This also allows us to buy each other gifts without the other seeing the purchase come up in our joint account. 

4. We use a super awesome spreadsheet that I created. A bunch of you have asked me for this in the past, so here it is!
January Budget
Income 1:
Income 2:
Extra Income:





Xcel Energy




Student Loans

Car Payment

Car/Renters Insurance


Jason CC

Kristin CC



Car Maintenance



Meals Out













Fantasy Sports

Home Improvements


Business Expenses



Income vs. Money Spent

*At the top I keep track of our income. I get paid on the 15th and last day of every that top row is where I enter my paychecks. 
*Jason gets paid every Friday, so the second row is where I enter his paychecks (don't worry, we both get paid more than $1.00)
*The next row is where I add any additional income we make; whether its side jobs, gifts, or whatever. 
*The green box is a formula to keep track of how much money we have earned for that particular month. 
*Next I list all of our monthly bills. I put the budget in the first column (this is based on the average we spent for all of last year) and then once I pay the bill I enter the actual cost in to the second column.
*The next chunk is for Gas and Car Maintenance...since this varies pretty drastically from month-to-month, Ii don't set a budget for it...I just track it in the second column. 
*The next section is for all things we typically spend our money each month. We have set budgets for each category and work hard to spend within that budget. And, yes, Champps has it's own budget....we eat there a lot.
*Next we have what I call the roll-over category. We have a budget set for these categories but because they aren't something we spend money on every month (the Kenley category does not include's essentially extra stuff for clothes or toys) the unspent amount will roll-over to the next month. So for example...let's say we spent $100 on gifts last year, our monthly average would be $8.33/month which would be this year's monthly budget. Then let's say we only spend $6.00 on gifts in January...the extra $2.33 would roll over to February making the gift budget $10.66 for that month. Got it?
*The last category is things we don't spend money on very often or get reimbursed for (like business expenses and fantasy sports...when Jason wins)
*Finally, we track our savings per month at the very bottom! 

This system has been working great for us! But, I found that in order to be successful you need to check your bank account and enter in purchases at the very least a few times a week. When you're looking way back it makes it more difficult to account and budget. You also need to be avid debit card users like we are. We very rarely have cash on us and if we do it will be for something specific so that we can add it to our budget in the proper category. 

It was pretty eye-opening to do this for a full year and see how much money we spent in each category. It definitely has helped us tighten up our finances and set a stricter budget for this year. 

I know this isn't for everyone, but if this has worked for me, it may just work for you!
Give it a try and tell me what you think! 
Or share with me what works for you! I'm always interested in getting new ideas to add to my system!


Bridget said...

Well...I absolutely don't HATE the word BUDGET...I LOVE IT!! lie though! It may have to do with me being an accountant and number person...but I get giddy doing our budget every month and love love love tracking everything! I know...weird to some :)
I think it's awesome what you guys are doing. I think EVERYONE should have a budget.
Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? I read his book last year called 'Total Money Makeover' and ever since then, we have been following his system. It's been working for us and it feels awesome to follow the baby steps and have a plan. I would def receommend his book!

P!nky said...

Ugh budgets UGH!

I really need to create one, just to see where I stand.

BUT UGH! Math yuck!


Carolyn said...

OMG. Can you please do my budget too. HAHA :)

jess said...

I'm with Carolyn... I need someone to do my budget too! :)

Katie said...

I need you to do mine as well. However, we do ours differently and like you said it's diff for everyone! Once thing I do that is different from mainly everyone I know is that I don't use or have a debit card. FOR ME-spending on it with all the swipes would spiral out of control for me. lol. I would much rather just take out $60 or $100 every so often out of the ATM because it limits how much I'm spending. It WORKS for me and I've done this for years. For big things like groceries-I write a check. yup, a check. LOL.

Laura Darling said...

I really need to set a stricter budget for myself! I live alone so only have to worry about myself, and I try to set some aside for savings, but this looks like a great starting point!

GirlieAndGlamorous ♥ said...

My budget is super similar to this!!

Anonymous said...

I am very happy and proud of your attention to financial matters.
xo m

Erin said...

You are seriously the organized queen and I love it :) We made a fresh budget just a couple weeks ago and I'm excited to stick with it this year. 2013 is the year we want to pay off as much of our student loan debt as possible so we're really buckling down and tracking where our money is going a lot more. It was SO eye-opening (and shameful) how much a month we spent at mexican restaurants- they def needed their own category on ours too!!

Bre said...

Thank you for finally posting this! I actually found an amazing app for the ipad/iphone called Home Budget that tracks EVERYTHING!!! I started it in January, so we already have a full month under our belt. It was only $5, but totally worth it.

Jessica said...

My husband and I have GOT to set up a budget!!

Nicole-Lynn said...

We do our finances very similar. We have a joint account and are always letting eachother know if we make a purchase over $50. We also take cash out for the week and try to limit our misc. spending such as groceries, gas, bills, etc. It works for us!

Kristen said...

budgeting is so hard! so far we've done ok, but it's still not perfect to say the least