Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Today's WFMW is backwards style. Instead of me posting a tip that works for me, I want to hear from you on how to put together (and execute!) a family budget!  

Do you do weekly or monthly budgeting?  Do you balance the budget and accounts alone, does your husband do it all, or do you do it with your husband as a team?  Do you do paper or online statements?  What works for you

If you need some background, we are a budding family of 4:  my husband--the breadwinner, myself--the homemaker and our two little boys.  Modest house, one car (soon to be two), no pets. We try to live debt free and don't really spend a lot on outside entertainment except outings with the kids or the occasional splurge for us.

Have at it, Ladies!


Elizabeth said...

I do almost all of the budgeting, and my husband and I go over it together every few months. We use the envelope system for all of our regular spending like groceries, household items, diapers, gas, etc. Basically, we agree on a cash amount we put in each category and when it's gone, it's gone. I pay all the bills and keep the checkbook balanced. We each have a "personal spending" amount so we can get things we want that the other doesn't want to spend money on. It works for us. We also discuss any spending over $20 because we don't want debt. It usually works:) We have one income and I am home with the kids, like you all. Plus, I'm better at the money thing than my husband.

Sarah said...

Well what works for us is this...
I keep a binder called a Home Management Binder and in it I have a section for budgeting. My husband and I always go over it but I sort out all the details.

I go through and put down our total amount fromt the paycheck and then continue with all of the bills due in the next 2 weeks (we get paid 2 times a month). Then I put down groceries, Laundry, Gas for the car, and Misc.

I love having a home management Binder it keeps everything in one spot.

We also use the envelope system for things like groceries and gas and Misc. ALl of the bill money gets put in our checking account.

I hope this helps, if you have any questions feel free to ask.

Sarah said...

Oh and I should mention that I stay at home with my son each day and we live on one income.

My husband and I also discuss any big purchases.

Shane said...

We follow the MAP system by Ethan Pope. It's great! Go to www.foundationsforliving.org more more information. (By the way, when I say "follow" I mean I used to do this, or I should do this, or my life worked really well when I did do this. Just trying to be honest!)

GreenStyleMom said...

We mostly follow the Dave Ramsey plan, and we do our budget on www.pearbudget.com Got that recommendation from Simple Mom blog (which has some great posts on budgeting).

Becca said...

I sat down at the computer and made us a budget in MS Excel. I put down our expected income, all the set expenses and even set up things in the random category (like gifts, dr visits etc). Then I set it up to tally everything at the end of the month and if it was positive it would be in black text, negative in red. It was also nice so the extra was easy to see, and that could be applied toward debt. I admit we are both pretty good with money, so after entering receipts and bills in for a few months we got pretty good at not spending as much on unnecessary things. (We still get them, but typically see something, think about it and if we still want it in a week (or so) we can go back and get it.

Julie said...

We're pretty similar to Elizabeth. We have a pretty set monthly budget that we developed together and agreed upon. Then I took that into an Excel spreadsheet and added two columns for our two paydays. I pay all the bills on payday, even if it's due the 12th, it gets paid on the 1st. So I put the bills in the right column, divy all the "cash" amounts in half for that pay period.

On payday I open that spreadsheet which I call my "cash flow". I compare the bills because sometimes there's something unexpected like a doctor copay we didn't budget for. I look at my calendar to see if there's anything different like school pictures, etc. If there is then I adjust numbers so that we still come out to a zero balance (hopefully that means money is going into savings to make it to zero). Sometimes that means not eating out that pay period, etc.

I pay all the bills because, well, I'm a control freak and my hubby realized I just need to do it. He does all the investing and stuff like that though.

We've gone through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (8 years ago) and are debt free including our house. And we're only 35/36 years old.

Christine said...

We create our budget together. My husband likes paying the bills and depositing the check.

We have a monthly budget, but my husband is paid weekly. All of our spending for the week (groceries, miscellaneous, dining out, etc.) go into snack baggies with a label on each one. We never go over budget. When the money is gone, we have to stop spending!

We also take all of our non-monthly expenses (car inspections and titles, hair cuts, subscriptions, birthdays and Christmas, etc.), add them together and divide by 52. That amount is taken out of each check and put into a "special savings" account. We charge those types of expenses, and the bill is paid out of "special savings."

Katie @ 3 Blondes and a Redhead said...

I love Quicken. My husband and I both enter our receipts and he tracks everything to make sure we stay in budget. I know lots of families who do the cash-in-envelope system, so if they run out of grocery money, they need to take it out of "entertainment" or something like that.

The other thing that we count on is our "spending" money. We each get $25 a month (it used to be $50, but we had to cut back) that the other can't balk at how we spend it. If I go to lunch with a girlfriend or want a pedicure, I can use my spending money. If he wants a CD that I think is a waste of money...spending. It keeps disagreements to a minimum.

cam said...

I use the 60% solution. The percentage doesn't really matter, but the basic idea is that all your monthly add up to 60%, with the remaining 40% divided up as follows:
10% retirement
10% long-term savings
10% short-term savings
10% play money
The idea is that it doesn't really matter what you spend on individual categories, as long as you're saving first. We have direct deposit and the savings are automatically deducted the day after, so we don't ever see the savings money. Can't spend it if it's not there.
I also use Quicken to track bills, portfolio performance, etc. I don't get a single paper bill, it's all online.

fullofboys said...

We are the one income family too. We budget monthly. We have been married almost 8 years so our items remain the same now...the amounts have changed as we now have three boys. I generally work up the initial numbers for the month...mostly because I have a handle on extra things (like field trips or preschool, etc.) and then my husband looks over it. We decide on it together. My husband reconciles the check book by an online statement. Any discrepancies, I take over...I am better at little details! We also use the envelope system...this works wonders for us as we can't spend more than we have in our envelopes.

Mrs. Sprinkles said...

I use Quickbooks to budget, only because I got it free from a friend. A better program would be Quicken, or a better one (free online) would be Mint.

As for the particulars, we try to charge everything on credit cards (and pay them off in full at the end of the month, of course) so we can see where the money is going.

I handle our budget because I like to do it and my husband doesn't.

I keep all our receipts to compare to the credit card statement and categorize everything in QB. After I'm done I throw all the receipts away except for medical receipts or large purchases, or anything I would need for taxes. Those I file away.

Superchikk said...

I do most of the financial stuff at our house (I have a background in Accounting). We discuss the budget and spending periodically, and make all large purchase decisions together.

We budget by the month, and have categories set up for pretty much everything. Since I have that Accounting background, I'm pretty Type A when it comes to this. I have a monthly Excel spreadsheet that shows me where we are on our spending at any given time of the month.

We also charge some of our regular bills on a no-fee rewards credit card. It gets paid off monthly, of course, and we use the points to get gift certificates to buy Christmas gifts, etc.

We are also a one-income family. Two cars (one is paid off, the other is almost there), with one little one.

My major tips are this: 1)Allow yourselves some "mad" money - even if it's just $10/month each. You need it. 2)Save monthly for those periodic expenses - car insurance, etc. It feels so good to be able to pay those bills with money that's already there and waiting. 3)And always have a "miscellaneous" category in your budget - because some things just don't fit anywhere else.

Annie said...

We use the envelope system Dave Ramsey teaches. One income, my husband is on salary so it's the same all the time. Money gets direct deposited on the 15th and last day of month. Retirement and insurance leave before it hits the bank. By the end of the day I have paid all bills and tithed electronically. We take out all of the money that is left after that and put money aside for food. Whatever is left is put into envelopes, we put one $20 bill in every envelope whether we think we need to or not. This accumulates money quietly and when we need new tires or fuel filter we are always surprised that the car envelope has enough to cover.

After the initial $20 to everything, we set aside money for savings, spending and allowances for everyone in the family including us. It took us about 3 months to get this right, not fight, now we bring out a stack of $20's and do this for the kids to see. This prepares them for the "there's no money in that envelope" speech that sometimes comes up.

kcjayhawk said...

i do all of our finances.
this system works for me. my husband gets paid twice a month. i figured out what bills are due during which pay period. on pay day i pay all those bills that will be due during that period and the rest gets divided up between extras and savings.
simple but works for me.

Audra Krell said...

I believe marriage means doing it all together. My husband in an accountant, and I'm defintely not. I'm the opposite of an accountant, which makes me a musician. Anyway, I don't understand a lot about budgets, investments, etc. I don't want him to have the burden though, of making all decisions alone, so we try to discuss everything and I help wherever I can.

Karen said...

I do all the budgeting. I have a detailed spending plan that I use. I record every dime we spend on an Excel spreadsheet. However, my husband does "balance" the checkbook using Quicken, which automatically links to our online banking records.

Jack's Mommy said...


:) We're a one income family now (since Oct 4 of 2007). I do all of the "budgeting". We have 7 basic categories right now and I have it calculated how much money needs to go into the "category" weekly to have enough money to pay that particular category off at the end of the month. All other discretionary (entertainment, groceries, anything..) goes into our spending category, which gets filled last. Categories are filled in order of importance (mortgage, then car loan, then utilities, then insurance, etc). I use a basic printed out sheet that I created, sort of like an accounting balance sheet for each category. ALL spending, bills, everything gets recorded and the records fall into place nicely (I just fill in our debits & credits once a week).

Kevin could care less about the budget details...all he cares to know is that we "have enough", and that's good enough for him....so I do it alone. :)

Jack's Mommy said...

(ps. it's cool to see you doing WFMW!!!!)

Jack's Mommy said...

(p.s.s. i thought i'd mention that our category budget system is identical to an envelope system with the exception that we use a debit card and bank of america online banking instead of envelopes and cash!)

Stefanie said...

We use Microsoft Money and that has worked pretty well for us. Justin is much better at tracking receipts, etc, but it great to see where our money is going and where we need to cut back. We are not strict to a budget right now (will be soon w/ baby #2), but we have categories for everything we spend money on & can see where we may be overspending or where we need a larger budget. It has worked for us -