Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Joy of Budgeting

I intend to move out very soon, living at home after college has lasted a little two long (about a year and a half).In order to do this I really need to start managing my money better. Currently I do not have a lot of bills, but I have realized I spend a lot of money without even realizing it. I tried to get to work and had so many problems with it and they would not help fix it (many people were having the same problems). Then I tried using Quicken and had issues. So I kept putting off the budgeting. Finally I decided I was just going to start tracking it in an excel document. There are quite a few pre-made budgeting spreadsheets available on Microsoft. In the end I decided to take the ideas from several templates and create my own.  I made individual pages for 

  • Income
  • Food/drinks
  • Gas
  • Cell
  • Car insurance
  • Student loan
  • Clothes
  • Household items
  • Entertainment and fun
  • Health
  • Credit Card
  • Gifts

The last one is for everything. Once I have a month done I will add each category and the total amount spent into this everything list so I can see how much I am actually spending on each of these things.

Here is an image of one page of my excel sheet with all the pages below.

At this point I have almost made it a month tracking my expenses. I feel more in control by being able to actually see and analyze the expenses. I can easily go on to my banks website and see all my expenses ( I pretty much only use my debit card). However, oftentimes I don't bother looking at it and many times you don't know what the expenses were for. I have actually been keeping all my receipts and try to enter them into my spreadsheet at least every few days. I cross check these with my online account data. It has made me a lot more conscious of my spending habits and makes me not want to spend money on things I don't need.There are several things I have been focusing on to limit my spending:

  • Cutting back on my coffee fix - this has not been successful yet :(
  • Limiting eating out and getting $8 drinks! What a waste!
  • Avoiding stores even Target- those are the worst for me I always spend money on things I really don't need but think I do

I am actually + $30 in my clothes budget. How you say? Well I had to return two items from Christmas and I was still able to buy a few things! Pretty cool. Even though mom says I need to use it on things actually for me :)

I really enjoyed this article about a woman with a shopping problem. Our society has become so obsessed with the value of objects. The car you drive, the phone you text on, the outfit, shoes and accessories you strut yourself in, the place you live and what you have. Do any of these things really mean anything? Do they bring any value to our life? Everyone needs clothes and a phone and a place to live but we need to learn to be less focused on these things as they should not be a value of who you are as a person.

What do you guys do to limit/control your spending?

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