A new month began yesterday (hello July!). A new month always makes me feel fresh and excited about a new beginning, similar to the way most people feel at the first of the year. I usually like to to choose one goal to focus in on specifically each month to try and challenge or better myself. For July, it’s budgeting.
I know, I know, I write about health, not finance. Believe me, I don’t claim to be an expert, but I had several requests to post on it, so here goes.
I’ve talked about budgeting before. Now that I pull up the post I see that I wrote it last July. Maybe I’m noticing a little pattern here? Anyway, to update you since my last post, Mint.com only lasted for a few months. It began having troubles syncing and it sent me so many email updates that I became annoyed and chucked it.
However, my financial organizing OCD kicked in again and I bought Quicken. It was a little overwhelming at first to get all our finances set up, but I did it. Then I didn’t open it for a while and when I did, categorizing all our purchases that had piled up made me want to smash my head through the computer screen. But, I did it and learned a lesson: attend to Quicken on a regular basis.
…please tell me you get the same giddy joy that I do out of pie graphs??
After reviewing previous months’ expenses, we found that our purchases differ greatly month to month, making it difficult to create a set budget that would work for all months, even with including a miscellaneous category. For example, one month we may be in town with no events to attend, but the next we may have an out of town wedding requiring a hotel stay and gift.
So, I decided I wanted to try Dave Ramsey’s advice to create a budget each month, before the month begins. He says “on paper, on purpose” though I assume “on the (com)puter on purpose” will work just as well. It sounds painstakingly dull and time consuming, but it was nice to sit down with David, discuss the upcoming month and allocate funds to each category accordingly. Also, it is empowering to find categories in the process that we can cut back on.
I have also discovered that I prefer a monthly grocery budget over a weekly because weeks can differ greatly, too, based on whether I need to restock the staples.
Our budget is all set up for July in Quicken now and I look forward to logging in throughout the week to categorize purchases and see how we are doing. Like any goal, it helps me when I have a clearly outlined plan and the ability to track my progress.
Being on the same page financially not only satisfies my inner control freak, it also strengthens our marriage. It reminds us both of our aspirations for our family’s future, which are our reasons to stay within a budget now. It’s easier to say no to eating out when we know it’s getting us closer to our big picture goals, like traveling.
So now you see that I’m not just a meal planning and exercise schedule loving type A personality, but the organization nerd in me overflows into all areas of my life. Don’t I sound like a ball of joy to hang out with?
How do you handle your finances?