One of my 2011 goals is to eliminate "stuff." By this, I mean eliminating unnecessary items and junk from my home, but in a way, I also mean eliminating unnecessary spending. I really, really want to save more and pay off our car payments. The hubs and I are not completely on the same page with this. We're close, but not quite there. His idea is that we are doing ok by saving a little and spending the rest without a plan. To be honest, I was ok with this for a while. We do each save a certain percentage of our incomes automatically and have savings designated toward certain accounts. This has been good and we started this a long time ago so the principle is not new to us.
Now, though, I want to be more deliberate about what and where we spent and put our money. After reading about various budget and envelope system examples in blog-world, especially Emily's, I'm tinkering with how to best categorize our expenses and develop budgets for each. I don't want to make this too complicated; it needs to be easy to use.
Things we use the credit card for (and pay off each month):
work expense for the hubs (reimbursed through his company at the end of each month)
Automatic withdrawals from the bank:
- emergency savings
- house/home improvement savings
- vacation savings
- Wyatt's savings/college fund (accumulated amounts go into a CD ladder)
Utilites are paid directly from our checking account when bills arrive:
my personal expenses, monthly amount TBD
hubs personal expenses, monthly amount TBD
eating out (not counting lunch expenses during the week which will come from personal expenses)
entertainment and gym
Still tweaking, of course, but listing all of our expenses and categories is a start. In past years, we've used a self-created Excel spreadsheet to document expenses by month. We weren't always so good about keeping it up. A year or so ago, I created a Mint account. I liked it mostly because I liked seeing the big picture of having all your accounts and balances listed in one place. For 2011, we've decided to abandon our spreadsheet and use Mint. This way we won't need to enter dates, stores, amounts into a spreadsheet; instead, everything will be there and we'll just need to categorize it.