Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's Budget Time!

To get ready to kick off a new Fun Friday series on Saving Money in the Kitchen, I thought I would start with a little background on our budget.  I have mentioned it before, but wanted to break it down a little more for you. Please keep in mind, I am no expert at this.  We have read a lot of books, taken a few classes, read some more and been encouraged by several friends.  (Check out Dave Ramsey and Crowne Financial for a starting point.)  The following is a mixture of all and is what works for us.  I encourage you to do your research, pray about what God would have your family do and take the plunge if you have not done so already.  Budgeting has blessed us and allowed us in return to bless others...I only wish we had started at the beginning of our marriage.

I keep a little notebook with all of our categories written in it. (There are 18.) Each one then has the amount written at the top of the page with how much money goes into that category each month.  Each time we spend in that particular area, I enter the date, what we spent and the remaining amount available.  Similar to the envelope system many use, but on paper instead.  Yes, you can use any computer program to track, but I am a paper kind of gal!  The exceptions are: Allowances (ours and the kids), clothing and entertainment.  For these particular categories we do withdraw money and put in envelopes.  I have found it is just easier to keep up with.  Of course, any money left over in a category gets pushed into the next month's balance.

4/1 Kroger
176.95                                                 $223.05
4/1 Commissary
102.39                                                 $120.66

Our other categories include:
Home Maintenance
Dry Cleaning
Car License/Tags
Car Maintenance
Lessons (piano, dance)

Each category has a set amount of money assigned to it that does not change from month to month.  Therefore if you do not have an expenditure that month your money will begin to add up in that category.  So when your car needs new tires, a ha, you have enough money sitting there waiting. 

Things like car problems or house maintenance problems are no longer panic moments for us because we set aside money each month for those things.  Vacations are easier to plan when we know how much we are able to spend before we ever go.  When it comes time to buy new curriculum for our year, the money is waiting.  You get the idea.

How did we decide actual dollar amounts?  Some were easier than others.  Take car maintenance for example.  We have two cars and are still currently upkeeping the car our oldest daughter is driving.  We figured out how many oil changes etc. each would need in a year, added it all up and then divided by 12.  There is the amount you should put away each month.  Do it for every category and you are ready to go! 

Honestly, the hardest category for me was the gifts one.  It forced me to write down every person I buy for and every occasion and assign a dollar amount to them all.  It was an eye opening experience for me and really made us reevaluate some areas.  It also now forces us to be super diligent about spending.  When figuring this one up, you can't forget little things like Easter, Valentine's Day, weddings, baby showers and on and on!  Let me forewarn you friends, this can be a major budget breaker!

One lesson we learned quickly, as your categories start to build up you have the tendency to accumulate a lot of money in your checking account.  As you accumulate more money you are more likely to spend it.  You know, "Hey, look what my bottom line says! I have lots of money left to spend!"  To avoid that temptation, categories that are not necessarily monthly occurrences for us, like maintenance categories and gifts, are transferred automatically to a separate account.  Then when we spend from those I just transfer the money back over to our primary checking.  Again, works for us.

Yes, my husband and I get allowances right along with the kids.  You didn't think I would breeze past that one, did you?  It is basically slush money to spend on whatever comes up that often does not fit perfectly into a category.  Snack at work, treat for the kids, whatever.  Or how about the going away gift at work you had not planned for, or sport pictures you forgot about.  Or the extra fun activities your child gets invited to and you want to help pay for them.  This is the money that tends to get eaten up the quickest at our house.

And that brings me to what started this whole post in the first place- the Grocery Budget.  How sad is it that one of our biggest categories is Groceries?!  I mean, really, that makes me crazy!  Some day I hope to grow most of our own food, but until this military moving family settles down, we are stuck paying others for our food.  It stinks, but one has got to eat.  In an effort to cut that category down as much as possible, I have worked hard!  And THAT is what I want to share with you this month for our Fun Fridays series!

I hope you will join us!  See 'ya on Friday!


  1. We are on a no spending budget right now. My husband has been pretty stressed about our future and what will happen with our disabled daughter once we get too old to care for her on our own.

    So I actually sat down today to work on a better budget. Your post was very encouraging and timely!

    1. So glad it blessed you, Miranda. I will be lifting you in prayer today! You may want to read my posts about our No Spend January and No Spend February for encouragement! It can be done!

  2. Wow, this is great! I keep track of all of our bills with excel, but never thought to do it this way instead. And our biggest expenditure is also groceries.

  3. This is great! I keep track of all our bills in an excel spreadsheet. Our biggest expenditure is groceries. Looking forward to the series.

  4. This seems so simple, yet so workable. I've been meaning to get us on a budget, and need to sit down with my hubby and plan it out a little. :)

    1. Go for it, Audra! You will be so blessed by it, promise. Let me know how you do!


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