The hubs and I just finished our monthly budget meeting for February! At the end of each month we will go over how to budget for the upcoming month. Sometimes we will go out to dinner for our budget meetings and try to make it fun but we stayed home tonight because we already spent our food budget for January and it is snowing a foot outside…ain’t nobody got time fo that! You need a new budget every month because every month is different. You have birthdays, holidays, or other celebrations going on that you have to plan for. We follow Mr. Dave Ramsay’s advice:
We also do a zero based budget which means you take your monthly income and then subtract all your expenses and savings until it reaches zero. This way you have a plan for every dollar coming in. For us, most of our savings are going to pay extra on the mortgage. So we built a basic spreadsheet that takes our monthly income and we list all our fixed expenses such as our mortgage payment, utilities, internet, cell phone bills etc. the ones that are always usually the same every month. And then we also list food/groceries, money for fun, and our donations to charity that we make every month. Anything extra after that goes to a category we made for paying off debt (which is our house currently) until our bottom line is a big zero. You could make this category for any debt you want to pay extra on like car loans, student loans whatever. Here is what our spreadsheet looks like:
For February we increased our “fun” money budget that we use for things like going out with friends, movies, bowling, whatever we want to use it for. We increased it from January since we might be going out to dinner or a movie for Valentine’s Day. I also have a cosmetic category because I need my Ulta trips yo! If I wanted to get my hair did or need to buy some clothes or shoes then I will tell the hubs I need a budget for it this month. Same thing with him if he wants to buy 635 domain names or some audio books then we throw it into the budget and plan for it! We keep in mind that these things are taking away from paying off our debt so we try to be conservative in what we actually need. This is why it is important that all parties involved are involved and do the budget together. We make sure that each of us are getting the things we need every month and also we are both agreeing on what each of us is spending and know about it. It is not going to work if one person is following a budget and the other person is off spending whatever on anything they want – not to mention it is going to cause some nasty fights! So do it together, agree on it together, and get your monthly budget meeting in.
The hardest part is putting together your first budget because you have to set everything up and actually know what your bills are and where your money is going. The Dave Ramsey site has many good free tools to help you do your first one. Once you get it set up it is super easy after that – all you have to do is modify it a bit depending on what is going on in that month and what you need to save for.
I hope you try it out! If you would like a template or have any questions please email me and I will be happy to guide you.
I will have more posts on how to follow your budget once you get it set up and how to record what you are spending so get those budgets going!