One of my New Years resolutions was to do a better job at budgeting. We went the whole month of January and barely did a thing... well, except spend money. I mean, we've never been the type to go crazy or anything, just not consciously keeping track. And that's what I wanted. I want to consciously keep track of what we spend so I know if we go over or under.
Before Ben and I got married, and then when we got married before we had Luke, we both worked as engineers. We had a lot of income. We didn't really have to even try to save. Ben and I've never been spenders, I think our parents taught us both how to handle money very well. However, the transition between when I stopped working to just having one income is harder. It's definitely worth staying home but it does take some conscious budgeting. We did really well for a while. Especially because right after I quit/got laid off my job, Ben got laid off too. So we had to really skimp, even though we had plenty of savings, we wanted to make sure that just in case it was a while before we found a job, we could make it. Then Ben was on a contract job before he got hired full time. Now that he has a full time job with benefits and a pretty good salary, we felt more comfortable buying a few things that we had been waiting to buy until we had a regular income. We still stayed on a budget pretty well, but during December and January (and all the moving) we got a little off track.
I found this budget estimator by Dave Ramsey. I don't really follow him too much but I've heard people talk about him. It was good because it can show you how much you should be spending in each category. We adjusted some of the numbers to fit us more personally. But most of it we kept fairly close to the percentages suggested. Though, we spend a lot on groceries, so we took some out of our 'personal' budget to cover the cost. I'm just not willing to compromise on good food.
I decided I wanted to write down each category on a separate piece of paper then subtract it whenever we spent. Not only did I brush up on my subtraction, I also was very aware each time we spent money. I didn't do it every day, but I tried once a week at least to keep up so we knew exactly how much we had in each category. I think it helped a lot.
February was our first month trying to stay on this budget since we started keeping track again. And I have to say we didn't do too bad. I think we had some realizations of what we actually do spend our money on. And that's good. Now we can fix what spend too much on, and focus more on what we need. We luckily aren't in any debt and we have a fairly good savings and I'm very thankful for that.
I think most of our mishaps are going out to eat because we are too lazy to cook. Sometimes that's ok, but sometimes we just need to come home and buck up. This last week, as we have been trying to make our grocery budget last the rest of the month, we had to eat in and think of meals to make here. And, we've had some really great meals this week. I think we just need to plan ahead a little more. So we never feel like cooking will be too hard.
I feel really happy being conscious of spending and trying to stick to a budget. I feel good being disciplined.