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How to Stay Within a Budget

Updated on June 19, 2013

Living within a budget is a very important part of life. It is something I never did formally at home until this spring. My husband started a new job this year so we decided to start off on the right foot by allocating his paycheck properly. We did own a store once upon a time and used a business budget program at work, but we never did home expenses this way. It is easy to figure the new income since he is the only breadwinner in the house. He also gets paid twice a month (instead of every other week) at his new job so it is easy to split our bills in half. Because of this, we have really been able to keep track of our money better. I will be starting a one day a week job in August, but the financial impact will be minimal so we probably won't have too much adjusting to make. Perhaps that money will just go to a bigger date night allowance!

My husband and I set up a spread sheet in Excel on the computer for our budget. We laid out our bills in a column, and then set up two colums showing which paycheck pays each bill. We sit down twice a month together and work on the bills. This way we are both informed and know where we stand with regard to money, we each know how much extra we have to spend on the little things that come up. This is where we pull present money from, there always seems to be someone's birthday or anniversary each month. Now, we do not live above our means. We have reigned in excessive spending and have really started clamping down on our bills and expenses. We even recently gotten rid of cable to delete that bill from our expenses. We also downgraded our cell phones from smart phones back to flip phones. I know I can't do what everyone else does with their phones, but I seriously only ever used the texting capability before. We also are trying to be more careful of our energy spending by turning off appliances that are not being used. These items really do waste a lot of electricity. Everyone should try and evaluate their spending habits.

I think now that we sit down together twice a month to go over bills we are much more careful with our extra spending. We know if the other person spent any extra money and if the account will be extra low. Before we did the spreadsheet with the budget, we had a few times that we had overdraws in the checking account at the Bank. Not many, but enough to really make us more careful. The cost of an overdraft is usually about $31 each, this adds up very fast if two or three checks come through the bank in one day. In an account where only one person is getting paid, it usually hurts pretty bad since you usually have to wait two weeks or more for a paycheck. I have been much happier going over the bills together than I was doing it alone. If you are married or sharing an income with someone else, I would highly suggest paying the bills together. Don't assume the other person is taking care of the bills, lots of disagreement can arise out of this kind of assumption. And some bills can get missed, which can get very costly if they go into collection.

We also plan for bills that only come of once or twice a year and pull money out of each paycheck and place it into an envelope for that expense. For example, we put money into an envelope to cover "dog expenses" and "car expenses" that come up once in a while. We also plan amounts for food, clothes and entertainment. This money is pulled out each paycheck and put away into our expense envelopes.

I hope that these suggestions help someone stay within a budget better. This is how we have been doing it and it is working out really well for us. Since doing this budget together, we do not have any disagreements about money, well almost never!


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    • amberld profile image

      Amber Dahnke 5 years ago from New Glarus, WI

      I think having it set up on the computer helps us out a ton. I need a visual to go by and this just makes it so much easier.

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Ugh I need to be better at budgeting. I'm so bad and it costs me a ton. I make plenty of money but know that I'm not doing as well as I could if I had the discipline to budget a lot better.

    • amberld profile image

      Amber Dahnke 5 years ago from New Glarus, WI

      Thank you for the suggestions! Having our expenses laid out in a spreadsheet actually really helps us the most. Seeing the bills and when they get paid makes keeping track so much easier.

    • jdnyc profile image

      JR 5 years ago from California

      Great ideas! I also use Excel to track my finances, and find that it's a really simple way to see what you make vs. what you spend and just having it on paper seems to keep the two in line. Your envelope idea is also one of those simple things that helps with the budget - one suggestion may be to open an online savings account, like ING or something where it is harder to take money out, and put money in for a long-term savings plan. Keep up the good work and good luck!!