Author Topic: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.  (Read 1087 times)

mistymoney

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1) So - I made it a full month recording every expense and comparing to expected spending levels and everything was looking good. Not like super good, but like - it wasn't too off from expectations and I was going to end the month LWMM, really LBMM with like almost $100 left over. I was pretty excited!! Especially about the extra $96 and what to put that towards - save or pay down some debt.

But then!!!! at the end of July, both the health insurance premium and my auto insurance payment went through - for the second time in a month! Originally - I though - oh - not a big deal, I will just record those in August, but no, they will hit again before the end of august. At first I worried that somehow, these were 13 payments/yr rather than 12 - which would totally make my backoftheenvelope guesstimates of my yearly budget wrong.

Luckily - that is not the case! However, looking back over my bank drafts for the last two years - it seems this is not uncommon! Each payment has 1-2 months per year were it may draft out twice, and then when things scync up properly, skip a month. Welp - explains a lot really!! In terms of why some months were really tight and I went into the hole a little more, and why some seemed looser and I was able to pay down a little.

I'm trying to find the rhythm in the historical record, but seems payments may be 30, 31, and sometimes 32 days apart. September may be a skip month for at least one and maybe both of these, but maybe not. Also, realized that I've lost the email account where the notice for healthcare went on the day of the next bank draw.

Now - I am in a pickle for about $650 in unexpected expenses this month. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on thing.....Please no rotten tomatoes. I haven't used a budget, really, ever I don't think. I'm learning! Also - importance of some slush funding....

2) so using everydollar.com and so far, making more sense, ease of use than ynab. Think I just set up ynab too ambitiously and it wasn't up for that. linked all investment and SL accounts and we could never come to terms on what was what.

So - with the free version of everydollar, the visuals, entries are pretty straightforward. But will it save and show trended data over time? Now that I've gotten into the habit, would have a spreadsheet and linking other worksheets for input of grocery receipts be better, show more, when you have a lot more data over time? Worried that I may not get the best info for all the time inputting.

TYIA for any advice and *hopefully kind* words.

MDM

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2019, 10:15:50 AM »
Consider budgeting for an annual basis, so the monthly budget is 1/12 of the annual.  Then keep at least an extra month's budget amount (or whatever it takes) in checking (and/or linked savings) to meet the Investment Order advice "Give yourself at least enough buffer to avoid worries about bouncing checks."

economista

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2019, 10:20:02 AM »
This happens with some of my payments too, although it is usually a case where it hits on the 30th or 31st or 1st or 2nd, so sometimes no charges in a month and sometimes two in one month. I use mint and I set up the budget so it has the budgeted amount for the month, but I click the button to allow the budget to roll over from month to month. This way if it hits twice in one month it looks like I spent double the budgeted amount, but then the next month we are back on track. Also, if it skips a month and looks like nothing was spent, there is double that amount sitting in the budget the next month for the inevitable double charge.

jj1800

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2019, 10:35:26 AM »
I use PocketGuard now. I have tried Mint, everydollar briefly, and used YNAB for a year. PocketGuard is the best expense tracking app available. It does everything you would do in excel but also has the most expansive connection to your actual transactions. It record credit cards correctly(something none of the others do it right) it connects to venmo, your bank, and even has a option to track what you did with cash that you withdrew or received. Than it categorizes everything and has the AI place future transactions in the category you selected.
It savings goal or spending limit options as well.
Once you have everything tuned correctly you can look at your exact spending for the last six months of bank transactions and see what you spent where, in either a pie chart or graph. You can compare different months as well.
For example with PocketGuard you could just go back six months in your health insurance category and see that what exact dates payments were made.

It's also less than YNAB per year and has a free option that does most everything the premium does.

I would definitely say it's the best AI based budgeting software by far.

mistymoney

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2019, 10:57:41 AM »
ooh - and

3) why are all the payments on monthly/psuedo monthly payments (aka the 30/31/32 day thing) and income is usually every other week?


mistymoney

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2019, 11:01:51 AM »
Consider budgeting for an annual basis, so the monthly budget is 1/12 of the annual.  Then keep at least an extra month's budget amount (or whatever it takes) in checking (and/or linked savings) to meet the Investment Order advice "Give yourself at least enough buffer to avoid worries about bouncing checks."

I'm really just dogpaddling at the moment, I'm afraid. Saving up a month's expenses would potentially take a few years at the rate I'm going...

Hence, my excitement at an extra $96! And....pop! gone.

But - I am getting a clearer picture of where I am at, so knowledge may be able to lead to a better spot.

civil4life

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2019, 01:03:44 PM »
You are at the information gathering spot.  Once you know how much you are spending in various categories you can actually work on improving your savings in the various categories.

I have tracked my expenses for 2 years now.  I am spending $10k less a year than I did when I started.  I could still probably cut another $200 to $300 of more convenience items from my monthly spending.

Some of the things I did.

Changed my cell phone carrier.
Changed my homeowners insurance and deductible
Changed my car insurance deductible
Negotiated my internet and cable bill
Cancelled some unneeded insurance policies
Cut down on my Amazon splurge spending
Refinanced my student loans with SOFI

Now that you have an accurate monthly expenses you could do a case study to get group feedback.

Edit:  I forgot I use Mint.  Only thing I do not like is SoFi does not mesh well with it.

terran

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2019, 01:13:05 PM »
ooh - and

3) why are all the payments on monthly/psuedo monthly payments (aka the 30/31/32 day thing) and income is usually every other week?

I don't know if I'd say "usually" as monthly is pretty common too, but more frequent paychecks are probably because people aren't good enough at budgeting to make it to payday when paid monthly, so more frequent paydays result in less whining and employees asking for an advance. I've even seen places where lower paid employees are paid more often than higher paid (presumably with the thinking that if you're paid enough you can make it a month on your paycheck).

DeniseNJ

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2019, 03:08:35 PM »
ooh - and

3) why are all the payments on monthly/psuedo monthly payments (aka the 30/31/32 day thing) and income is usually every other week?

I don't know if I'd say "usually" as monthly is pretty common too, but more frequent paychecks are probably because people aren't good enough at budgeting to make it to payday when paid monthly, so more frequent paydays result in less whining and employees asking for an advance. I've even seen places where lower paid employees are paid more often than higher paid (presumably with the thinking that if you're paid enough you can make it a month on your paycheck).

Feds get paid every two weeks.  My husband is a teacher and gets paid on the 15th and the 30th of each month.  But only for the school yr.  We do have HR put aside money from each check to pay him in the summer--we shouldn't need them to do this but the first couple of summers were rough so we signed up for this.

I just started using Mint and like it a lot.  You can have some categories roll over the balance to the next month.  So you can schedule 200 each month for car insurance and if it isn't used then the next month has 400 in the budget.  So if it gets taken out twice it still isn't over budget.  I do medical expenses like that.  I don't want to feel rich just bc we didn't refill scripts and try to spend that money elsewhere (I wouldn't though) and then when you fill your 90 supply you don't have the money in the budget.

seemsright

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2019, 04:10:04 PM »
Once you know your yearly patterns it will get simpler to budget for life.

I know that the months of May and October are always ALWAYS stupid expensive months. It seems like if something breaks or needs to be replaced it will happen in one of those months.

Keep going. I know it sucks to finally figure out where you are but it will make the goal of FI more possible.

And think about creating a Buffer bucket in your budget. This is a small amount of money that will help you cover the things that happen that you did not plan for and still keep within budget.

Freedomin5

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2019, 04:18:26 PM »
@civil4life is correct. If you’re just dog paddling at the moment, you will need to lower your expenses to create a buffer. You’re just barely living AT your means, where as you really want to live quite a bit below your means. You’re making some good first steps though. Rather than try to juggle the expenses and shift dollars between accounts, I would simply look at things to cut, so that on the months when you make double payments, you’re still going to be within your means. In other words, expenses in double payment months should be less than your monthly net income. On single payment months, you invest the extra.

Christof

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Re: More advice/input requested on budgets, budgeting software, etc.
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2019, 04:48:50 PM »
I'm really just dogpaddling at the moment, I'm afraid. Saving up a month's expenses would potentially take a few years at the rate I'm going...

Have you posted your numbers in a Journal yet? Because I know that feeling from a long time ago and it was because I didn‘t manage income and expenses correctly. Saving a few years for a month worth of expenses is less than 4% saving rate. That is not what we do here around. ;)