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Budget advice

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  • Budget advice

    Wanted to get others thoughts on our situation.

    My wife is a stay-at-home Mom, while I am the single income-earner in the family. I am on the road quite a bit so my wife handles the majority of the home stuff; things like groceries, clothes for the kids, home supplies (paper towels, cleaning supplies, that sort of thing). I handle all of the budgeting and family finances. I've worked out a detailed budget that would allow us to live pretty comfortably (allowing for $600 in pure fun money every week) while still putting $15k-$20k in savings annually. The major challenge we have though is sticking to that budget; often times we go over an allotted amount for a given category and I won't really know it until I check the bank account. It's a case where my wife handles most of the "spending" on what we need in the house, while I manage the budget. I'm looking for a relatively easy way (preferably an app of some kind as I would rather not have to pour over a spreadsheet and track every single expense each week in that way) that would help us ensure we stay on track with our monthly budget (like something that integrates with our bank account and downloads transactions automatically and places in a category that I set up).

    Any tips\tricks\thoughts, or anyone else out there in the same boat? I need to figure out a way to have a copy of our budget somewhere that both me and wife can see at any given time and that gets updated in almost real-time (i.e. deducts funds from a certain category as the transaction hits)

    Make sense?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    The technical solution is using personal financial software like Quicken. You set up the budget and the track spending. You can set it up to download information from your bank accounts. Quicken does have a mobile app that will synch to your home computer, but I haven't used it. I mention Quicken because it is the one I've used in the past. There are plenty of other options for budgeting software. To budget using software, you and your wife will have to be very good about logging on and going through each transaction and categorizing it. The software will categorize based on payee, but you still have to make sure everything is categorized correctly, especially if you spend money at the same place for different categories. When I started Chap 13, I had great plans to use Quicken to budget. But, I just can't get myself to sit down and do the work. If you and your wife have the discipline, you can log on whenever you want to see how things are going and adjust the budget if necessary or tell your wife to stop spending.

    A low tech solution that seems to work for people is to go to cash for daily spending and use the "envelope method". You have an envelope for each category of spending and put the budgeted amount in each envelope. You can do this on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. When your wife goes grocery shopping, she takes the grocery envelope with her. When it is empty, it is time for her to make do with what is already in the house until the next period begins.

    ETA: Many have recommended mint.com which is a free online budgeting tool. It seems to basically do what Quicken does.
    LadyInTheRed is in the black!
    Filed Chap 13 April 2010. Discharged May 2015.
    $143,000 in debt discharged for $36,500, including attorneys fees. Money well spent!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by seanf12 View Post
      Wanted to get others thoughts on our situation.

      My wife is a stay-at-home Mom, while I am the single income-earner in the family. I am on the road quite a bit so my wife handles the majority of the home stuff; things like groceries, clothes for the kids, home supplies (paper towels, cleaning supplies, that sort of thing). I handle all of the budgeting and family finances. I've worked out a detailed budget that would allow us to live pretty comfortably (allowing for $600 in pure fun money every week) while still putting $15k-$20k in savings annually. The major challenge we have though is sticking to that budget; often times we go over an allotted amount for a given category and I won't really know it until I check the bank account. It's a case where my wife handles most of the "spending" on what we need in the house, while I manage the budget. I'm looking for a relatively easy way (preferably an app of some kind as I would rather not have to pour over a spreadsheet and track every single expense each week in that way) that would help us ensure we stay on track with our monthly budget (like something that integrates with our bank account and downloads transactions automatically and places in a category that I set up).

      Any tips\tricks\thoughts, or anyone else out there in the same boat? I need to figure out a way to have a copy of our budget somewhere that both me and wife can see at any given time and that gets updated in almost real-time (i.e. deducts funds from a certain category as the transaction hits)

      Make sense?

      Thanks!
      Have you tried mint.com? It's a free website that allows you to link all your accounts and set budgets. You would be able to tell right away if you are nearing the budget in a category for the month. They have some preset categories, but you can also create your own. After you set it up I would recommend something called a daily Money Minute. Log into mint.com every morning to review how you are doing. Set a reminder on your calendar or cell phone if that helps you remember. I've been doing this since the beginning of the year and it's helped me quite a bit.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks to you both....I've been playing around with mint.com and it seems great, but one crippling flaw that I can see...at any given time we may have several pending transactions in our checking account that have yet to clear. It appears Mint.com won't sync with transactions until they have cleared, which means mint.com is always 1-2 days behind in terms of accurately reflecting spending

        Comment


        • puppiesrock
          puppiesrock commented
          Editing a comment
          Can you input them manually? and then they match up when they import so you are good? I had that problem with YouNeedABudget.com and i just entered my expenses manually.
          Some banks take longer to sync than others..

      • #5
        Originally posted by seanf12 View Post
        Thanks to you both....I've been playing around with mint.com and it seems great, but one crippling flaw that I can see...at any given time we may have several pending transactions in our checking account that have yet to clear. It appears Mint.com won't sync with transactions until they have cleared, which means mint.com is always 1-2 days behind in terms of accurately reflecting spending
        I see my pending transactions. Are you sure it's refreshing on the first page? Maybe it's an issue with your bank and how it transfers over to mint.com.

        Comment


        • #6
          Try "You Need A Budget". You download it to your computer and then sync your phone using their free app. So you could build and manage the budget and your wife could enter the money she spends right on her phone. That what we are using and I love it!

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