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A lazy man's budgeting

December 17th, 2007 at 08:30 am

How does a lazy guy set up? Let’s start with the obvious. I didn’t have a budget. I had not budgeted in the past. I knew my first pass I was going to miss something. So, let’s quickly google the internet and see what other budgets people use look like. As a lazy man says, why start from scratch when I can steal from others, I mean “borrow’.

So now I have some categories. Everyone knows the big items: mortgage, car payments, electricity, cable, groceries… It’s the small stuff that will get you and those pesky seasonal variable expenses. Did you know I pay more in December than November for gas to heat my house? Did you know in December that I have to (yes have to) by a Christmas tree? Well, according to my budget I didn’t know.

So this is what I did. I budgeted about 75% of my income for the month of December on what I thought. I used last month’s expenses to project December’s, knowing I would forget some and total guess wrong on others. But I felt comfortable that the 25% of my income would handle these bumps. So far so good.

Now for those of you that are married, you know that nothing is set in stone until the wife signs off on it. So I sat down with the wife and we went over it and I got sign off from her. Now the question is: Can we stick to this? Or more of can I stick to it for more than a month?

As I said before, I am lazy. So I need a system to track all these expense. Now, I am not going to put every expense into Excel and go to all my banks and CCs everyday to see if transactions posted. I need a lazy man’s solution. Back to the internet…

Well, I found a solution that would work for me. Mvelopes.com allows be to hook up all of my institutions and they will bring in all the transactions. Excellent!!! A little expensive (10-13 a month), but it takes less than 5 minutes a day to do the assign expenses. I also like that I can see all the balances across all my accounts.

Now the secret to budgeting: Before you spend any money you need to start funding the different categories. In other words, I have a budget of $500 for groceries every month. Each week I put $125 into that category. If there is no money in the category, I am not suppose to spend. Therefore, every paycheck I get, I divide into the different categories.

If my envelope goes red, I got to explain it to the wife. She keeps me honest.

One of the side effects of a budget like this is that there is a total honesty about finances. My wife and I can see where every dollar goes. Just log on to the net, and there’s everything. It’s not me verse her on finance. It’s more of us.

One last thing. I have 2 furnaces in my house and one broke on Friday. I need to get someone out there to take a look. Bay Stat Gas said they could be out there on the 24th. Yea, that’s not going to work. So I called a local guy. He came out (it was a loose wire) and fixed it. $185, my wife was like “there goes the budget”. I quickly looked at the budget and had set up a category called house maintance and it was already funded for $200. A pleasant surprise!!! Budget 1, Cynicism 0.

5 Responses to “A lazy man's budgeting”

  1. midlight21 Says:

    This sounds great. Good going on having that maintenance fund FUNDED! It is a wonderful feeling!!

  2. Broken Arrow Says:

    Congrats! It took me 3 months to work out all the kinks, because um, maybe I'm dumber and slower. Big Grin But it took me a while before figuring out what system I would end up using for a budget. Then, it was a matter of looking until I had caught every bill I pay (rather than, you know "Wow, surprise. Forgot all about this bill.") Then, finally sitting down and making sure everything fit somehow on my schedule, and then somehow going down every one and trying to reduce or eliminate each and every one.

    And THEN I was able to budget. But rather than lazy, I prefer the term "Enhanced Efficiency". Big Grin

  3. Aleta Says:

    That maintenance fund is a total necessity. It will keep you from getting any credit card debt. You can also go to websites that will give you an appoximate life time span on appliances, roofs, etc so that you preplan for those future expenses.

    I remember when we first set up this account and it wasn't that much either but how great it felt when we had to use it and the money was there.

    You're doing a great job.

  4. db1974 Says:

    I didn't like Mvelopes. It took several days to download info. and they couldn't link to certain credit cards. If you have any unresolved issues (like not wanting to sign up for credit protection) then Mvelopes can't hook up until you've resolved it.

  5. merch Says:

    I definitely don’t have the kinks worked out of my budget. But by only budgeting 75% of my monthly take home, has allowed enough of a cushion to absorb the forgotten and surprise expenses. As I the months go on, I’ll revise and expect that the surprises and forgotten expenses will decrease.

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