How do you track and stay on course after you prepare your monthly budget? For us, we use the free GoodBudget app on our cell phones. It is an envelope based software program to help you track by category according to your budget. It also syncs so the hubs and I see the same exact thing and any amounts that each of us enter. Every month after we do our monthly budget we will set up our envelope amounts on the app and then track our expenses as we go. This is an example of what the app looks like:
You use envelopes for all your non-fixed expenses or the expenses that can change monthly. You don’t need to track your fixed expenses such as your rent, car, or mortgage payments because those amounts are the same every month and you know what those amounts are going to be. We use envelopes to track groceries, fun money, gas, household expenses, cosmetics, and any birthday or misc gifts we have planned. At the beginning of the month we will set up say $400 for groceries based on what we budgeted for the month and each time we go and buy groceries we will then enter the amount spent in the app. This will help you see how much you have left for the month and keep you accountable for how much you spend. It will also help you to follow what you have budgeted.
Like I have mentioned before, we use credit cards to pay for everything because we have good credit card habits and always pay off the full amount each month. If you have credit card debt and are trying to break bad credit card habits then you can still use this envelope system but with cash. Get actual physical envelopes and write on that envelope what it is for and then put the monthly amount of cash budgeted to spend in that envelope. Take your grocery envelope when you go and buy groceries and use the cash you have allocated for groceries. Once that cash is gone it is gone and you might have to take cash from another envelope. It is just like using the app. You don’t want to keep adding to your credit card debt so using cash is best.
Are we always perfect? Heck no! We will have some negative envelopes but we don’t always spend the whole amount in another envelope so it evens out. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a category because you spent more on going out but it keeps you on course for your budget. Having and tracking a budget is better than not knowing what you are spending at all, even if you go over that budget a little. And sometimes it is kind of fun to try and see if you can do it. Like right now we only have about $100 left in our March budget and we still have 5 days to go so we have to be creative with finding things to eat and do around the house until a new month comes…I can tell you that we will be doing a happy dance when it is April 1st!
If you want read more info on how this app works you can visit the website here. It is free so download and try it today!