I have been writing down all of my spending in an excel since last November, which was a very eye opening exercise, but I only just began to link this to my budget.
I used to try to spend as little as possible with set goals for savings and debt repayment, but now I have a explicit budget for all categories of spending, that I post here every month. I’ve been putting in my spending into my budgets every month since September.
This is very challenging!
Writing down all your expenses is an excellent first step, and for me it was enough to see that I’m spending too much on categories that don’t mean a lot to me. But now, to put this spending next to the category that says I only have $100 to spend there for the month is a structure that I both love and worry about.
In real time, you can see if you are under or over budget for every category and for the month overall. Instantly you can see if you are meeting all of your goals, and conversely, you can more accurately gauge your ability to splurge on that sale sweater you see (more often than not that’s a no !).
It is also very interesting for me because it certainly does add some worry. I think much more about just renting a car next week and going for a trip, or just going to the grocery store and buying whatever I want because food is a need. There is much less flexibility and spontaneity with this plan, but in my experience my ‘spontaneous’ expenses have never been to pay more debt down. It keeps you very honest.
And honestly speaking, I’m making more than I ever had in my life, but I am worrying more about money.
On my previous salary, more often than not, I spent $0 on entertainment because I just could not afford it. Now I do have a small budget for this, but with $150 I absolutely can’t go on a road trip every weekend. It was almost easier to say no to everything than have to decide what events to agree to. But I am not complaining, I’m just saying that I am striving for balance!
Do you put your spending against a budget? How do you find it?