Money Matters
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Hey yall! I have been reviewing my budget and I do you cash only and I use the Envelope system. I feel like I have so much money going into different categories and I think that before the second half of the year begins, I want to make some changes. I literally budget for every single thing I can think of. So, what is included in your budget? what are your TOP PRIORITY line items? Our line items are as follows:

eat out
home savings


  • I don't budget this way anymore - I did years and years ago and I caught myself "stealing" from one budget or another depending on the month so it was sort of pointless for me. Now I budget so that I have enough to pay all the bills, set aside about 30% of our base net pay into savings (auto transfers so I can't cheat here), and then the rest can be used however we want/need. Some months eating out is higher than groceries, some months we do a house project and scale back entertainment, other times we cash-flow a vacation and it averages out because our gas/utilities/groceries are drastically lower. I charge everything for the points (and then pay in full each month) and use Personal Capital to track our spending trends. 

    I save first and then spend - I think you'll run into problems with my method if you try to "save the leftover" without setting strict budget limits first. 
  • hoffsehoffse member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    We do the same thing as lillibette.  I fill several "buckets" of savings and pull out money for our fixed expenses before leaving whatever is left as spending money.  Most months we spend all of it.  Months when we don't spend all of it we add extra to savings.  I always consider that a bonus though and never plan for it.

    It makes planning very easy because I don't really worry about pinpointing groceries vs. eating out.  And when our savings comes off the top, we know exactly how long we need to save for goal X because I can project out.

    We also use credit cards for points.  I do a mixture of cash back, travel points, and light churning for sign up bonuses.  I track the value I get out of it.  In 2015 we redeemed ~$5,000 worth of value from CC points through cash back and a couple free vacations.  In 2016 we redeemed about $3,000, primarily through free travel.  I am expecting 2017 to be in the $3,000 range again because I have scaled back the churning ever since Scott's Cheap Flights became a thing.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Some items you might be forgetting are out-of-pocket medical expenses, car insurance, utilities, cable and car payments (if you have them).

    I've never done an envelope system, though I've heard they really help some people.  It sounds like maybe the envelope system is becoming more burdensome than its worth and you're looking to streamline?

    I use Excel and have various tabs on it.  My main tab is a grid with bills and loans on one side and due dates on the other side.  The top is the date for each Friday of the current month.  Over to the side, I have dates when I am expecting certain incomes.

    In the middle, I fill in what amounts I'm paying to which bill/loan for each week.

    On another tab, I have all my monthly and annual budget items with amounts listed.  For the annual items, I break it down per month, but put a note over to the side how much it is annually.  Another tab are my assets and their value.

    Here are my budget items:

    • Personal home mortgage
    • Investment property mortgage
    • Cable
    • Cell phones
    • Property insurance (all investment properties combined)
    • Energy (estimate)
    • Sewerage/Water (estimate)
    • Medication/Dr. Visits
    • Groceries
    • Slush (entertainment/eating out falls under this)

    My annual/semi-annual items are:

    • Flood insurance (personal and investment properties)
    • Property taxes (investment properties)
    • Auto Insurance (semi-annual)

    I currently have credit card payments and pretty much always owe money on my HELOC.  But I don't include those in my budget because that is where the majority of my extra monthly money goes anyway.  But I do keep track of those payments and (hopefully) diminishing balances on the main spreadsheet.

    I know I don't have gas on my list, lol.  It's a pretty negligible amount for me and I always forget to add it when I see it on someone else's budget.  I'm fortunate to live less than 7 miles from work and I have a gas sipping MINI Cooper. Though she has expensive taste and I have to use Plus or Premium. 

  • I use a virtual envelope system but I combine some of the smaller categories so I don't have a ton of things to track.

    Ours are:
    -mortgage/utilities/cell phones
    -personal fun money (so mani/pedis, hobbies, happy hour, etc.)
    -entertainment (going out to eat, movies, ect)
    -Gas for cars
    -groceries/household supplies
    -car payment
    -car insurance/car repair savings
    -church giving

    Then we have a bunch of other savings envelopes for Christmas, vacations, retirement, etc.
    Formerly AprilH81
    photo composite_14153800476219jpg

  • My budget items are as follows (my husband and I aren't combined so a lot of stuff is in his budget, which I can outline later if you're interested, he has wayyy more line items than I do)

    -Student Loan 1
    -Student Loan 2
    -Husband (this is money I give to him to pay on our 2nd mortgage, and for my portion of our cell phone bill)
    -Bed (we have 0 interest for 4 years on our Sleep Number bed)
    -Utilities (I don't itemize these because they fluctuate throughout the year and when one goes up the other goes down... ie in the summer, water and electric go up, but our gas bill goes way down.  I add to it in the summer too)
    -Credit Card (I pay all gas and groceries on this card as I get triple reward points... so I guess this is my gas/groceries budget line item?)
    -Car Payment

    I used to itemize even further but it just got annoying.  I have a new car so car repairs don't really happen, but if they do come up, I either cash flow them or pull from savings.  Same for non-monthly stuff like my car tags and insurance, Costco membership, stuff like that.  

    If I have leftover amounts in any of these lines, usually that only happens with my utility line, I'll either put in savings or just add to my spending for the following month, depending on what I've got going on.
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