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    Need help learning to budget

    Wow do we need help. 2 years ago I would have considered us pretty good with money (no debt aside from a $17k student loan) and $30k in savings. But after paying for our wedding, moving back to the US from abroad & having to purchase 2 cars to get to work, and experiencing a 6-month job loss--we now find ourselves close to $50k in debt with only $5k in savings!

    We have never had a budget. I have tried in the past (using cash envelopes) but found it nearly impossible to properly manage. We really have no idea how to begin a budget. For instance, we know my husband is having dental surgery in a month that will cost us a little over $2k out of pocket and I am not quite sure to budget for that.

    We have always lived by putting every purchase on the credit card and paying it off in full every month to get rewards. Whatever is left over in the end has been our savings. However, in the past 2 years we have not saved anything. I really wouldn't say we are big spendors. We rarely eat out (maybe once a month), we don't buy new clothes, we don't have smartphones, we don't have a house phone or cable tv, we go on a weekend vacation once a year, our entertainment is watching Netlix, and we have free gym memberships...

    I have also tried the 'paying yourself first' method and we managed to save $5k this way. However, we decided to put it all towards tackling some of our debts...which never really seems to go away.

    It is very frustrating and I usually just end up giving uo because I don't know how to make it work for us. Has any disorganized people been successful with budgeting? I should add that our income is not fixed either but I go off an average..

    #2
    You need something that makes keeping track of everything easier. I would leverage some sort of software to help.

    I personally use YouNeedABudget.

    Others here use www.Mint.com


    I'd say that's a good place to start - software. You can use the software to import all your expenses straight from your credit card, and then filter through categories to see where your money's going.

    Not an instant budget fix, but definitely a great place to start.

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      #3
      I want to second a recommendation for YNAB. After the 7 day evaluation if you need more time to decide just email them. They are very flexible and have excellent customer service! Their online classes are awesome!!!

      Comment


        #4
        I use Microsoft Excel for my budgeting and go to Chandoo.org when I have questions about formulas. They have a lot of very knowledgeable help there that will assist you.

        If you want a good Excel Budget spreadsheet, let me know. I'll upload one that I have downloaded. I usually adjust what I've downloaded for my own purposes, so would be happy to help with simple things. The best thing is that Excel is free if you have the program itself. If you don't, then both Mint and YNAB are well-respected for budgeting.

        I'll mention that the new Quicken is universally panned for its horrible budget support. Due to the reviews I've read - and not by personal experience - I would suggest you steer clear of any Quicken products.

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          #5
          Wino,

          I would like to see that Excel spreadsheet you use. I am using one for my business that is working out well--but I don't know how to modify it for personal budget use! I have been trying to use that "You need a budget now" online tool but am finding it too complicated for my needs and am not sure I want to pay for it!

          Thanks!

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            #6
            I don't use anyone tools. I have my budget in an google doc that both my husband and I have access to. We break it out by categories. My bank of america breaks down our debit card expenses by category that are for the most part correct.

            for a basic budget I like USAA template/categories that you can use https://content.usaa.com/mcontent/st..._worksheet.pdf


            As far as the dental work, can you put that on a payment plan with the dentist and then cash flow or it. Or wait until January than maybe use your medical flexible savings account to fund the work.

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              #7
              Originally posted by cherryblossom View Post
              Wino,

              I would like to see that Excel spreadsheet you use. I am using one for my business that is working out well--but I don't know how to modify it for personal budget use! I have been trying to use that "You need a budget now" online tool but am finding it too complicated for my needs and am not sure I want to pay for it!

              Thanks!
              Cherry,

              There are a lot of sites online that have budgeting tools. This one is very good, and I have used it in the past: Vertex42 budget

              There is also one from Pear Budget that I tried: Pear Budget Free Download

              If neither of those work for you, I can send you the one I actually use. I think mine is easier, but it isn't nearly as robust as either of those.

              Comment


                #8
                You obviously have some discipline if you managed to save $5,000. The best tip I can give is from a site I read that had tips on saving more money. Although it is about saving money the advice can be applied to your situation.

                The easiest and most effective way to save more money is to track your spending. You will be surprised at how much of your money is wasted on unnecessary purchases and how easy it is to find ways to cut costs.
                When you know how much you spend per pay cycle its time to make a budget to suit your lifestyle. It is much better to make a more realistic budget and tighten the purse strings if you can see some expenses you can cut out. Don't be disheartened if you can only save a little, saving only $20 more a week means an extra $1000 in your pocket by the end of the year. Once you get started you will find that there are so many ways to save cash.

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