One of my responsibilities is taking care of our household budget. Disclaimer, we don’t have dogs or kids or own a home so our budget maybe isn’t a complicated as some. But we do have multiple loans (including a doozy of a student loan) and a few goals we’re working toward, so it’s not simple either.
I’ve been budgeting since I found myself in some serious credit card debt after college and have been doing so ever since. It’s helped my handle some big expenses: the impulse purchases of my early twenties, law school, multiple car purchases, a wedding, vacations and unexpected expenses ($1000 root canal!?).
My approach has evolved overtime from one simple spreadsheet to multiple online accounts and tools. And every year or two I try something different. At the end of last year (last year!) I realized that I may have too many financial tools at my disposal. Multiple account dashboards, an expense tracking app, a spreadsheet with way too many tabs and a Mint account.
So for 2016 I’m paring it down. I’m going to keep my multi-tabbed spreadsheet, but for tracking purposes I’m using Mint.com only. I think I’ve finally figured out how to appropriately categorize the expenses to fully utilize its budget function which will make life a lot easier. I was separately inputting each charge to the app Home Budget. While it has a great interface, and gives me all the control I crave, it was a lot of extra effort. It’s easier just to re-categorize the charges in Mint.
This year we’re also going to start saving for larger expenses each month. We have a trip to Vermont and New Orleans planned for late in the year and anticipate some additional car repair expenses. We’re hoping by saving each month we can get ahead for both expenses so there are no surprises later in the year.
I’ll share the magic budget spreadsheet I’ve been using for 15 year on Thursday, because everyone needs at least one spreadsheet to be accused of budgeting.
Do you have tools you like to use to keep yourself in financial shape?