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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: ETBen on August 19, 2018, 02:27:53 PM

Title: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ETBen on August 19, 2018, 02:27:53 PM
Iím curious how many actively budget their money.

I currently use YNAB (after my divorce). After 3 years, I have a pretty good handle on my money. My income is consistent not variable, no debt. Good savings rate. Iím thinking I can switch to a free budget tool now. Itís basically the same 3 categories if I overspend and Iíve been addressing why I do that anyway.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: RWD on August 19, 2018, 02:31:48 PM
I don't budget but you said tracking counts so I voted "yes". I would say I'm somewhere between the two yes options. It's critical to optimizing and achieving the best possible financial scenario but we would still save a lot of money without tracking too.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Fomerly known as something on August 19, 2018, 02:40:45 PM
I said no because I budget by scarcity.  I take what I want to save off the top and then don't worry about the rest.  I do look at how I spend but mainly just to see if something is really unusually high.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ETBen on August 19, 2018, 02:40:49 PM
I guess I should add a tracking option. Bc itís probably the most common.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: boarder42 on August 19, 2018, 03:06:16 PM
Should have added it at the top. Just about everyone here tracks what they spend otherwise we don't know when we can retire. But not budgetting is the best way to spend less once you have a handle on everything IMO.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ETBen on August 19, 2018, 03:46:20 PM
Should have added it at the top. Just about everyone here tracks what they spend otherwise we don't know when we can retire. But not budgetting is the best way to spend less once you have a handle on everything IMO.

Share what you mean by not budgeting being the best way. Iím curious the rationale bc everything out there pushes budgeting.

I suspect some track their saving without tracking their spending/transactions.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: cats on August 19, 2018, 03:56:52 PM
We donít budget but we do track.  I think if you have a budget, there can be some tendency to see being under budget as permission or encouragement to spend more.  But if you really have the mustache mindset down, you should be evaluating each spending opportunity individually and figuring out whether or not it is really delivering value.  Ultimate this mindset will do more to change your spending than a budget will.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ETBen on August 19, 2018, 04:02:45 PM
We donít budget but we do track.  I think if you have a budget, there can be some tendency to see being under budget as permission or encouragement to spend more.  But if you really have the mustache mindset down, you should be evaluating each spending opportunity individually and figuring out whether or not it is really delivering value.  Ultimate this mindset will do more to change your spending than a budget will.

Thatís exactly what Iím finding to be true! 
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Arbitrage on August 19, 2018, 04:13:22 PM
I use old (free) YNAB.  I mostly use it as a tracking tool - never understood why people (including MMM) think someone who budgets will splurge when they have extra money outside of the budget.  In my budget, extra money is quickly identified as something I can dump into long-term investments or if it's allocated to some larger upcoming expense (e.g. property taxes, house repairs, annual insurance bills).  It also helps me to quickly identify when some costs are trending up, or look for efficiencies within the existing budget and get prompt feedback from cost savings. 

I didn't budget for a long time (always frugal and LBYM), but once we bought a house I felt I needed a better handle on where the money was going and what we needed to be cognizant of. 
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Padonak on August 19, 2018, 04:18:50 PM
I don't budget but i track my spending very closely using Personal Capital. I open it every day and check each and every single transaction. I don't use cash very often so all my transactions are recorded. Personal Capital also creates automatic monthly budget and expense report, but it's not accurate because sometimes investments are recorded as expenses, payed back loans on LendingClub as income, etc. In any case I don't feel I need to budget because I am naturally frugal and evaluate all my expenses anyway.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: boarder42 on August 19, 2018, 04:52:28 PM
Typically people who budget tend to spend their discressionay portion up to the max bc that's the budget. Vs teaching yourself how to buy what you need and wait for deals on what you want. Even in need shopping like grocery. Sweet we're doing great we're under our budget. But if your budget is 1k and you spend 800 I wouldn't call that good. I see this with me wife. We keep separate finances. I'm naturally frugal and she wasn't but is getting much better. But her budget is iron clad except for the spending of discressionay she's getting a bit better but she still just spends it bc it's the budget. And if I don't spend this budget this month yay more for next.

It also leads to more stress IMO I'm really stress free bc my money isn't in buckets money is fungible if I have an unexpected expense I spend a little less. Hers used to be a big deal bc it's not in the budget. Plus she's constantly updating that thing.

In my mind you just teach yourself to be frugal and once you aren't focusing on a budget youve made it
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: DreamFIRE on August 19, 2018, 05:31:32 PM

I answered that I don't actively budget and that I don't need to.  I'm running at over 80% savings rate for this year without adhering to a strict budget or tracking every transaction as to where it fits within my budget.

I only track in the sense that if costs go up for a line item in my budget (such as an obvious increase in my property tax), I tweak the budget.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: CalBal on August 19, 2018, 05:56:14 PM
I don't budget but I track. I agree with @cats in that it allows for evaluating each spending opportunity. I am naturally frugal, however, tracking helped me see where my money was going and help improve my efficiency.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Freedomin5 on August 19, 2018, 06:04:33 PM
I have a couple streams of income. I spend down the smaller stream, and the larger stream all goes towards saving.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Tass on August 19, 2018, 07:22:10 PM
I budget in a way that probably edges toward compulsive... I find it soothing to know where everything is at all times. As I've gotten more into a "set it and forget it" mode my habit is slowly decreasing and perhaps eventually I won't feel the need to do it at all.

Budgeting is probably not vital to my finances but I do it for my peace of mind.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ender on August 19, 2018, 07:24:34 PM
We technically budget but it's loose. More like "tracking" than budgeting.


@boarder42 I don't think it's at all necessary to budget in order to know what you spend every year (mint makes this trivial to lookup) and for naturally frugal folks, staying reasonable is trivial.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: boarder42 on August 19, 2018, 07:26:38 PM
We technically budget but it's loose. More like "tracking" than budgeting.


@boarder42 I don't think it's at all necessary to budget in order to know what you spend every year (mint makes this trivial to lookup) and for naturally frugal folks, staying reasonable is trivial.

I agree I don't think I ever said that.   I said we all track what we spend.  You use Mint i use PC but that is tracking spending none the less.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on August 19, 2018, 07:43:22 PM
I said yes, but... what I really do is have direct debits going out of my account, this much to electricity, this much to the mortgage, this much to savings, and so on. Lots of spending isn't too variable so you can direct debit it. I mean, you might spend more on electricity in the winter, for example, but you average it over the year and divide it by 52, add 10% for luck and that's what you put on it. Some things like groceries can be up and down week to week, since while you buy fruit and vegies weekly things like a big tin of cooking oil might be only every month or two; still there's an average if you track and you know what to set aside.

And the rest just floats in there and gets spent on whatever I feel like. Financially, in my household we're fine if one of us stops earning money. And we'll probably stay like that for some years yet - call it the Halfway To FIRE Approach. It means less stress attached to work, since either one of us can walk away at any time, though not both of us. But one's enough, we've chosen our careers with a lot of thought and planning so we're unlikely to both go mad and get sick of them at the same time.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ETBen on August 19, 2018, 08:10:08 PM
I budget in a way that probably edges toward compulsive... I find it soothing to know where everything is at all times. As I've gotten more into a "set it and forget it" mode my habit is slowly decreasing and perhaps eventually I won't feel the need to do it at all.

Budgeting is probably not vital to my finances but I do it for my peace of mind.

Thatís how I am and itís definitely taught me a lot. Itís probably why Iím worried about giving it up!
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Zikoris on August 19, 2018, 08:24:06 PM
We only track, and our spending has been amazingly consistent over the last seven years of that. Budgeting just honestly seems like way too much effort and trouble, which we actively work to eliminate from our lives.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: cats on August 20, 2018, 09:24:44 AM
I was thinking about this thread a bit more and trying to figure out if I have ever "budgeted" or when budgeting might be a good thing.

I have NEVER had a strict budget in the sense of having $X for each type of spending and then hitting "stop" on that spending when I hit the budget number each month.  Pretty much every expense in my life except rent and childcare has some monthly variation, and having a budget with a fixed amount each month just introduces an extra element of tracking that I don't think helps me much.

However, I have drawn up "budgets" for myself when moving to new locations (i.e., when I'm about to experience a big potential upheaval in income or expenses).  Each time I've basically looked at my historical spending and considered what non-housing new expenses the new location might involve (e.g. when I moved across the country I needed to plan for my travel expenses to visit family going up quite a bit). I do find this a useful exercise for reminding myself of what a sensible upper limit is on my biggest expense: housing.  I'll have an estimate of what spending is likely to be on non-housing essentials, a minimum amount I want to save each year, and the difference is the absolute max I am allowed to get myself into on the housing front.  I think a housing "budget" is actually a pretty good thing to have in mind when moving because housing is typically one's biggest expense and it's also very hard to dial up or down down once you are locked into a lease or a mortgage.  You can't say  "oh, I was under budget on housing again this month, so why not splurge on that extra garage", or "gee, my housing is a little high this month, I guess I will have to stop paying rent on the porch to meet my budget goal". Bonus, spending less on housing will likely cascade into spending less on other stuff as you'll probably have less space to furnish/clean and less fancy neighbors so less pressure to keep up with excessive home "maintenance" and upgrading.

I could see a similar exercise being useful when contemplating a big purchase like a car where you will have a lot of future spending determined by a single one-time decision.

So in conclusion: housing or other big one-time spending decision items budget useful, other budgets still kind of silly.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: GuitarStv on August 20, 2018, 09:34:56 AM
Fuck no.

I'm naturally cheap.  Money that isn't spent goes into savings.  I've done up a budget a few times to see where my expenses are, and to analyze if there are areas that I can cut . . . but things are pretty efficient right now.  I don't think budgeting holds any value for us at the moment.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Lady SA on August 20, 2018, 10:05:53 AM
We definitely track our spending more than we budget. Each year I log our annual spending categories and amounts, and then do some guestimating as to what that same category will look like next year. This annualized amount is remarkably steady year-to-year despite our lack of strict monthly budgeting. If I see a category that is higher than we really want, then I try to set a "goal" annualized spend that is still reasonable but is a bit toned down. Think like my DH's electronics habit (he's a computer engineer and likes tinkering) or restaurants. Both of those are important to us, but they are easy to make some minor tradeoffs for quality over mindless frequency.

I end up plugging those annualized amounts into a "budget" to determine how much we will have leftover each month to send to our taxable brokerage account, after taking into account all our deductions, savings, and averaged spending.
Then I also plug in these average monthly spending amounts into mint just for kicks, but I never restrict our spending based on if we are going over or under these monthly amounts -- I know that the number is based on an annual number and it will fluctuate month-to-month if we end up buying bulk things on sale one month, go on a trip, etc. I do keep a closer eye on our "problem" categories I mentioned above, and if I see us consistently going over our monthly average, we might institute a minor restriction for a bit.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ketchup on August 20, 2018, 11:23:24 AM
Fuck no.

I'm naturally cheap.  Money that isn't spent goes into savings.  I've done up a budget a few times to see where my expenses are, and to analyze if there are areas that I can cut . . . but things are pretty efficient right now.  I don't think budgeting holds any value for us at the moment.
This is pretty much where I am too.  I'll only ever "budget" in the sense of (just an example) if I want to buy a few CDs for my car, I'll let myself spend say $5/mo on them.  And even that I basically don't do.  I see budgeting as training wheels towards getting your shit together.  It can make sense if you're just figuring stuff out, but it's a waste once you've got it.  I'll spend $0 on dog food this month or I'll spend $1000 on dog food this month if there's a deal, no arbitrary number.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: jc4 on August 20, 2018, 11:28:34 AM
I was kind of surprised at how much tracking seems to be the most common route. It works much better for us (considering the variable nature of expenses).
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: I'm a red panda on August 20, 2018, 11:30:25 AM
I do not budget.
I've always worked under the premise "don't spend money on unneeded crap" and it's always worked out great for my husband and I.

For the past 5 years (we've been married 14)- we do look at all of our accounts at the end of the month and just to see how much we have. We don't necessarily look at our spending though.

Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: nkt0 on August 20, 2018, 12:05:15 PM
I was thinking about this over the weekend. I started tracking and budgeting about two months ago as a way to understand my spending. Now i'm wondering if i should set a "target" savings rate (say 40% net income), set that aside first, and leave the rest in a pot for spending on everything else, including fixed expenditures. But that also seems suspiciously like budgeting in that i might be more likely to spend it all because i can rather than economize each transaction. I guess i haven't grown a full mustache yet.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ETBen on August 20, 2018, 12:38:46 PM
I was thinking about this over the weekend. I started tracking and budgeting about two months ago as a way to understand my spending. Now i'm wondering if i should set a "target" savings rate (say 40% net income), set that aside first, and leave the rest in a pot for spending on everything else, including fixed expenditures. But that also seems suspiciously like budgeting in that i might be more likely to spend it all because i can rather than economize each transaction. I guess i haven't grown a full mustache yet.

Yes, now that I have an automatic weekly investment (bc I know how much I have leftover each month plus an extra as a new goal) I donít really need to budget every category. I really just need to apply more scrutiny to a few areas. Itís an interesting evolution.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: thesis on August 20, 2018, 01:18:42 PM
I've been using a cheap single-entry ledger for years. I got one from my grandma for college and got used to it. Late 20s here, guess I just picked up an old school habit :). I don't have any personal need for diagrams and woodads, just a quick way to see how my spending has been for the past month. Many would probably find the manual entry of purchases a hassle, I'm just used to it. When I pay in cash, I just round the cost up to the nearest dollar and throw the change into a coin counter. It's currently up to about $75 and will probably go into the Roth IRA when I take it to the bank.

For what it's worth, I use broad categories: Food, personal, gas, giving, bills, and a little note on additional savings outside of my automatic 401k contributions.

It has worked fairly well for me. I used to lump Food, Personal, and I think Gas together, but would find myself spending a lot more because I wasn't paying attention to how much I needed for one or the other. I dunno, I could try without the extra categories, it's worth a shot, but I enjoy being consistent. Does it encourage spending more? Maybe, but I've always been happy to dump the left-overs into savings. Then again, that hasn't happened in awhile.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: singpolyma on August 20, 2018, 01:36:10 PM
I started budgeting when I got engaged, and we've found in married life it makes financial communication a bit easier.  Yes, it means that we spend our whole entertainment budget ($50) every month, but that's worth it IMHO for the benefits.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: FLBiker on August 20, 2018, 02:04:23 PM
I do not budget.
I've always worked under the premise "don't spend money on unneeded crap" and it's always worked out great for my husband and I.

Us to.  For me, one of the perks of living well below our means is not having to budget. :)
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Dulcimina on August 20, 2018, 02:53:55 PM
I said yes, but... what I really do is have direct debits going out of my account, this much to electricity, this much to the mortgage, this much to savings, and so on. Lots of spending isn't too variable so you can direct debit it. I mean, you might spend more on electricity in the winter, for example, but you average it over the year and divide it by 52, add 10% for luck and that's what you put on it. Some things like groceries can be up and down week to week, since while you buy fruit and vegies weekly things like a big tin of cooking oil might be only every month or two; still there's an average if you track and you know what to set aside.

I said no, but I basically do the same thing that you do. Every now and again something like a change in my income or an increase in insurance or condo fee triggers a more in-depth look, but mostly I'm pretty lazy.  If I'm saving what I want and not going into debt, I figure I'm doing ok.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: libertarian4321 on August 20, 2018, 06:14:39 PM
I've never done a budget, though years ago, I tracked my spending.

I'm just naturally frugal and always lived well below my means, even when I was young and not making much money
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: sparkytheop on August 20, 2018, 07:26:31 PM
I'm a naturally frugal person and always just watched my account values at the end of the month.  I wrote down my income and my bills, along with estimated spending (groceries, gas, etc), to see what I should have left each month.  I wanted to see the account grow by $1k (example).  So, if one month it was only up by $600, I either overspent or had something expensive come up.  So the next month I would actively try to spend less.  Worked great for then purposes.

I ended up purchasing the old YNAB when it was on sale.  I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to maximize savings for a new house, and to help my son with college, but still have some money for fun stuff like vacations.  I was also facing a decent pay cut in order to escape a hellish work environment, as well as losing child support (it went directly to my son when he turned 18).

I've been actively tracking and budgeting for about three years now.  I like to look and see exactly what I've set aside for my son for college, as well as the new house, and see how fast I can make the house numbers larger.  I've got my cash spread around where I can earn as much interest as possible (which isn't much right now), so it's set to bank/credit union limits rather than the amount I have for each goal.  It does help keep my spending in check, even though it was never bad, just because I really want to be able to move more money into those more important categories.  When I work overtime, I add a little for fun stuff, and a lot toward the house.

Once my son is done with school and the house is built, I'll probably do away with the down-to-the-penny stuff, and go back to what I did before.  If my YNAB crashes before then, and I can't get it working again, I won't go to the subscription program, I'll just do a spreadsheet.  But, for now, it's worth it.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: mrcheese on August 20, 2018, 07:35:36 PM
I have 5 broad categories which I allocate my fortnightly take home pay into, so I voted yes.  I tracked more closely when I was getting my financial act together, but now that I know how much needs to go into each pot to keep things humming along nicely, I don't need to. I do up an annual spreadsheet of all my fixed expenses, utilities and insurances etc just so I know how much to allocate into each pot going forward.
Once I figured out what spending makes my life better and what to discard, I give myself enough to enjoy life without feeling deprived (and yes, it was lower than expected) and then 'fungibly' spend that without tracking every purchase and save/invest the rest.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Mesmoiselle on August 20, 2018, 08:14:29 PM
I use the free YNAB that I literally won from one of their classes for free. It and the MMM philosophy are what have brought me here today, I credit the two of them heavily.

Considering I have 3-4 people's money floating through my budget, my finances are too complex to not have YNAB, or, at the very least, a heavily configured Excel sheet.

We don't look at the numbers as "Allowed Spending", however, If there is extra, it goes elsewhere. If more is spent than expected, the RED lets us know. Only my main husband has an issue with his Fun Money- set to 80, he rarely saves any excess even though I've discussed it with him several times. He likes the amount of beer and caffiene he gets to buy with it. And Vacation never has a specific amount to it. We rarely go, so when we do go, I optimize the flight/hotel and let the rest fall where it may.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: ETBen on August 20, 2018, 08:40:39 PM
Only my main husband has an issue with his Fun Money- .

How many husbands do you have lol  J/k although single income and not married does make this a bit easier.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Mesmoiselle on August 20, 2018, 09:13:33 PM
Only my main husband has an issue with his Fun Money- .

How many husbands do you have lol  J/k although single income and not married does make this a bit easier.

I'm poly, and have one legal husband and another man I've paid lawyers to make sure he has rights to my stuff too. I call him my other/2nd husband.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: pancakes on August 20, 2018, 09:19:19 PM
No active budget here. We retrospectively budget by just checking our position once a month. It we havenít lurched forwarded as much as we hoped from savings we might spend the next month accounting for ever dollar and use that information to identify where to cut back.

There are too many variables to our spending to allocate money ahead of time. If I attempted it I can see myself not coping when it doesnít go to plan due to something unexpected.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: iris lily on August 20, 2018, 11:03:21 PM
Typically people who budget tend to spend their discressionay portion up to the max bc that's the budget. Vs teaching yourself how to buy what you need and wait for deals on what you want. Even in need shopping like grocery. Sweet we're doing great we're under our budget. But if your budget is 1k and you spend 800 I wouldn't call that good. I see this with me wife. We keep separate finances. I'm naturally frugal and she wasn't but is getting much better. But her budget is iron clad except for the spending of discressionay she's getting a bit better but she still just spends it bc it's the budget. And if I don't spend this budget this month yay more for next.

It also leads to more stress IMO I'm really stress free bc my money isn't in buckets money is fungible if I have an unexpected expense I spend a little less. Hers used to be a big deal bc it's not in the budget. Plus she's constantly updating that thing.

In my mind you just teach yourself to be frugal and once you aren't focusing on a budget youve made it

Hahaha ďshe still just spends it because its the budgetĒ

Yep.

I never budgeted and retired early. Maybe not way early, but somewhat early,,and could have retired even earlier if I had put my mind to it.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: tungu2 on August 20, 2018, 11:32:05 PM
My budget usually fails. I plan some modest spendings for ďsportsĒ, ďhobbiesĒ, ďsocial outingsĒ and they end up being zero most months. My grocery and sweets (yes, itís a separate category for me as Iím addicted to cookies) exceed my budget most months.

However, itís really useful for me right now. Couple of months ago my bank offered me a higher reward card with a minimum spending limit (I will be charged if I spend less). I had some specific purchases in mind (new bed frame, winter wardrobe, plane tickets etc) so I got the card. Right now I actively budget and plan to spread out these purchases. I will close the card in three months and go back to slacking in budgeting
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: use2betrix on August 21, 2018, 05:38:59 AM
I wouldnít so much budget per se as compared to just aiming for a monthly overall spending goal. Some months I might spend more on entertainment and in turn spend less on something else.

I used to diligently track every single dollar by hand in a book. Anymore I just use personal capitals features which is decent. My spending has become worth as my income rose significantly. Mostly because I have more free time and live in an area where I canít do as many free hobbies as Iíd like.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: MrGville on August 21, 2018, 06:40:41 AM
I just track my spending.  However, I suppose I budget in the sense that I have automatic investments set to occur after each paycheck, and then the remaining cash in my checking account is what I need for rent/groceries/etc.  I do have spending goals/limits for each spending category.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Cranky on August 21, 2018, 07:07:51 AM
I both budgeted and tracked during the years when we had *just* enough money to get by. We couldn't go over the grocery budget because there was no extra, anywhere. Dh had to let me know if the car was going to need something, because I had to squeeze that out of the existing categories. Because I both budgeted and tracked, we never paid a bill late. (We had no "fun" categories in that budget, either.)

At this point, I have some rough categories and not all that many bills. I do track grocery spending just because I've done it for 40+ years and it's a habit.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: jim555 on August 21, 2018, 07:11:40 AM
I track.  It also serves as a log which is useful.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: PoutineLover on August 21, 2018, 07:12:38 AM
I pretty much just track my spending, I have a rough idea of what I spend in each category but it's not consistent month to month except for my fixed bills. I still put aside a set portion to save/invest, that comes right off the top, and I can spend the rest how I like. I could probably be more mustachian if I put more effort in, but sometimes I find that paying too much attention to my spending makes me want to spend more cause I'm thinking about it. So I stick with saving enough, and not feeling deprived of things I like, but still being reasonable about it.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: SaucyAussie on August 21, 2018, 07:42:13 AM
I set spending goals at the start of the month and then track spending at the end of the month to see how I did.  If I am $100 below my restaurant goal for the month, I don't feel the need to go out and eat, so I don't see where that idea is coming from. 

To help with tracking, I run everything through my credit card.  A couple of times a month I download everything into Excel and manually categorize everything.  I've tried all the popular tools, but keep coming back to Excel.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on August 21, 2018, 08:03:52 AM
I give myself spending goals for each month in the different expenses, predominantly so I can work out how much I have to save for my investment account and then I try to stick to that plan as much as possible. I track: my available cash/savings, my retirement account, my investment account and my HISA where I keep cash for emergencies and vacations. I donít have debts, no mortgage and pay off ccís within the month.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Retire-Canada on August 21, 2018, 08:06:59 AM
Iím curious how many actively budget their money.

I don't track my spending. I track my savings. If I am on track with my savings then I know I am on track with my overall spending. For the most part I don't care what I spend my money on as long as there are no glaring problems with my life and the overall spending is on target.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Lanthiriel on August 21, 2018, 08:17:48 AM
I said no because I budget by scarcity.  I take what I want to save off the top and then don't worry about the rest.  I do look at how I spend but mainly just to see if something is really unusually high.

+1
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Schaefer Light on August 21, 2018, 09:06:38 AM
I do budget, but what helps me is that I like to see how little I can spend each month.  It's almost like a game.  Can I make August lower than July?  I track everything in Excel, and I like seeing really low numbers at the end of each month's worksheet.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: boarder42 on August 21, 2018, 09:53:39 AM
Iím curious how many actively budget their money.

I don't track my spending. I track my savings. If I am on track with my savings then I know I am on track with my overall spending. For the most part I don't care what I spend my money on as long as there are no glaring problems with my life and the overall spending is on target.

i guess thats the flip side i just like to know where its going some years its more on travel some year's like this year its a lot on healthcare.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: WSUCoug1994 on August 21, 2018, 11:24:08 AM
For me this whole FIRE thing is iterative.  I am naturally frugal as is my wife but we do set a 12 month trailing average from a budgeting standpoint.  It is more like tracking - but setting the budget year to year enables me to slowly dial down each one of these categories of spend.  More like death from 1000 cuts - in my experience I get more "support" from the family if I dial these expenses down slowly then all at one time.  The budget allows me to see my progress from month to month or year to year.  I am also surprised from time to time how our food expenses can get out of control as well as some of the kid's activities.  Helps to keep me in check - but it is fair to say that I am obsessed about tracking expenses - likely not healthy.  Everything at the end comes down to my savings rate - which I want to increase every single year.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Mrs. D. on August 21, 2018, 09:37:16 PM
Our spending MO is we don't buy things unless we need them, but if we need something, we buy it (trying to find the best deal, of course). The only spending category I actually budget for is groceries, but that's mostly because 1) it's the only category I have almost complete control over since I do 95% of the grocery shopping/meal planning/cooking and 2) it puts a little mental challenge into an otherwise repetitive and tedious task. The last week of the month is fun, trying to stay on budget when there's only a little bit left to spend. But our savings rate is near 30% so we'd be adding to the 'stash even if I paid no attention to how much we spend on groceries.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: pbkmaine on August 31, 2018, 09:45:12 AM
Iím curious how many actively budget their money.

I don't track my spending. I track my savings. If I am on track with my savings then I know I am on track with my overall spending. For the most part I don't care what I spend my money on as long as there are no glaring problems with my life and the overall spending is on target.

Same here.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: worms on September 01, 2018, 03:45:55 AM
My knee-jerk reaction was to answer ďYes, donít we allĒ but having read the thread, now iím not sure! 

I take my savings/investments off the top then allocate sums to all my categories of expenditure using a monthly portion of the annualised spend.  The rest, is not budgeted but I am frugal and allocate any month-end residue into the savings/investment pot.  So yes, I budget for expenditure (and analyse the hell out of it to make sure it is minimised) and I budget for savings/investments, but not for the unallocated portion which is about 15% of the total.  I track everything, though.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: lilybluerose on September 01, 2018, 08:08:23 AM
I budget using the every dollar app. It helps me a lot. I track ever cent spent throughout the month and keep a budget for things like groceries and "misc"
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: SansSkill on September 01, 2018, 08:15:26 AM
I have a list of all recurring expenses, and a list of known one off expenses that will come up.
I also have a list of all end of month balances of all accounts.

I don't really track explicitly, I calculated what should be my monthly budget, and deposit a slightly conservative guess of the left over at the first of the month.
I then re-adjust when either my checking account grows too much because of the difference between the estimate and reality or my estimate was wildly off in either direction, depending on which direction I simply adjust the estimate up or go over expense off the last couple of months to see what changed, a series of one offs that are actually recurring, lifestyle inflation, or actual one offs.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on September 01, 2018, 08:26:30 AM
However I think its very important to track pre-FIRE.

Genuine question: why?
If someone knows what they are spending and saving and it works with their goals, is tracking really necessary?

I can think of at least two reasons:

#1Ė you want to track to raise your awareness about your spending and keep it front and center of what youíre doing so you can achieve what you want. Not everyone is great with money or numbers and tracking might help them not get lazy.

#2Ėyouíre interested in better understanding your spending habits and looking to see where you can optimize and increase savings to speed up your FI goals
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: CindyBS on September 01, 2018, 09:52:38 AM
No budget/no tracking.

We did track every penny for July and August and just this morning commented to DH how happy I am to be done as of today.  We wanted a very specific "snapshot" of spending for some future planning.

We are comfortable with how much we save and how much we spend. 

Could we wring more out and have more money?  Sure.  But with an already high savings rate and current unpredictable and difficult life situation right now, I just don't think it is worth the bother. 
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Apple_Tango on September 01, 2018, 05:30:40 PM
I budget everything! I use the Dave Ramsey Every Dollar app and love it. I used to just track my expenses and think ďIíve got money left over, all bills are paid, great!Ē But ever since I started budgeting I have seen the light because it allows me to prioritize in advance what I want to spend money on and what I donít. It makes me feel richer. If I want a pair of shoes that cost $50 the old me would have said ďIíve got enough money, Iíll get themĒ but then I would feel guilty that I spent money. The budgeting me says ďIíll put away $10 per week and Iíll buy the shoes next monthĒ it makes me feel less guilty to save for things purposefully in advance.

I love budgeting!
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: englishteacheralex on September 01, 2018, 05:41:13 PM
Sure do! I started budgeting in two week increments about ten years ago. This was what enabled me to get ahead of my bills and know exactly how far I could cut my spending to the bone in order to save and give the max I could. Back then as now I start with a target savings number and a target giving number for the month and then work through the different categories with those goals in mind--how can I cut spending in order to max the savings and giving?

I got married about five years after I started budgeting and taught my husband how I did it while we were dating. He thought it was really smart and now jumps on the budget as much as I do to see how we can tweak things. We have plenty of money and don't worry about it at all, but at this point, without a budget I feel kind of rudderless and unsure. Our categories are cranked so far down to the bare minimum that we do overspend sometimes, knowing that any overage is going to cut into our savings. That knowledge makes us extremely reluctant to overspend!

We also track our spending very meticulously, which is why our budget is extremely accurate. We know what's realistic for us in any given category. 

Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: spicykissa on September 02, 2018, 01:22:46 AM
I track obsessively, on a spreadsheet I made with columns for projected and actual expenses. The projections at this point have a firm basis in reality--I used to put in what I thought was a "reasonable" amount, and get mad (or happy) when the actual numbers were higher (or lower). Year over year though, our annual spending has been perfectly fine, so now I don't care so much.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Dr.Jeckyl on September 03, 2018, 10:31:33 AM
Yes, and mostly. I budget/track with Mint. I've gotten really good recently setting budgets in Mint and even manipulating them throughout the month when needed. It helps that I love numbers and analyzing data. The reason I do it to help my wife and I understand where the money goes. I'm not sure how well it works though. My DW has trouble with the concept of spending only to the budget. For example, if she overspends on groceries she doesn't understand that we may need to take that money out of the new tires fund.

We are trying out something new this month. The account is only to be used for categories that we agree on such as groceries, gas, medical. Anything outside of those categories we either need to discuss before purchase or it can come out of cash funds (discretionary). I'm hoping the cash helps us realize that we only have a finite amount of money to spend and if we spend it all in the first week we won't have any more.

Tracking helps us understand where we can and cannot cut expenses. For example, if we spend $300 on fuel every month and we group errands and only drive to work, soccer practice, etc.. then we cannot go lower than $300. And if fuel costs spike 10% we will need to add 10% to that budget. Same goes for food. We've been trying to get our spending down in this category but we can't do that by under budgeting. Instead, we need to actively create meal plans and stick to the grocery lists. So gas and food I try to over budget for. Any extra at the end of the month we then place that in one of our goals categories (vacation, pool (I know face punch me), newsed car, etc...)

What taught me the most about budgets is the book All Your Worth. I really like the 50/20/30 rule that they lay out. It's a simple set it and forget it budget. However, as a budding mustachian I do more than the 20% for savings. But the simple idea that I go by is pay your bills, then pay your future you (savings), then have fun with the rest. My bills are autopay, my 401k and IRA are auto funded.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Dr.Jeckyl on September 03, 2018, 10:54:43 AM
I budget everything! I use the Dave Ramsey Every Dollar app and love it. I used to just track my expenses and think ďIíve got money left over, all bills are paid, great!Ē But ever since I started budgeting I have seen the light because it allows me to prioritize in advance what I want to spend money on and what I donít. It makes me feel richer. If I want a pair of shoes that cost $50 the old me would have said ďIíve got enough money, Iíll get themĒ but then I would feel guilty that I spent money. The budgeting me says ďIíll put away $10 per week and Iíll buy the shoes next monthĒ it makes me feel less guilty to save for things purposefully in advance.

I love budgeting!

I totally agree. One of the reasons that we started a discretionary spending cash budget this month is so I won't feel guilty when I spend money. What will likely happen is that I will save the discretionary budget money and never spend it cause I'll feel guilty anyways :).
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Dicey on September 03, 2018, 11:00:01 AM
I did pre-FIRE, but I don't any more. Everything is pretty much dialed in. Last week, I grocery shopped at my usual cheap places and realized I hadn't looked at my totals anywhere. When I got home, I added them up. Under $42.00. Not bad for a family of four adults. I will add that I've been frugal for years, so I have a good sense of where and how the money goes, but it did not happen without dilligence.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: sparkytheop on September 03, 2018, 01:45:22 PM
Last month, I looked at how much I had saved for the new house build.  I decided to make a goal to try to save another $9700 before the end of the year, so I could finish with a nice round number. 

Having the budget as a visual helps me reduce spending even more, so that I can move some of the extra from those categories to the house.  These are more extraneous lines (quilting, fun money, gas, etc) rather than lines that need to increase each month (house maintenance, car maintenance, etc).

It's a lofty goal, and I'll need to get scheduled for 10 or 11 more overtime days this year to do it, but I do enjoy the budgeting so I can see how I'm doing with my savings goals.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: AFrugalGuy on September 03, 2018, 03:15:17 PM
We budget in great detail, including for savings. Any monthly surplus goes directly to savings and not to spending - as someone said in this thread earlier, it becomes a game to see how much surplus we can generate each month to exceed our savings goals.

In general, it really helps to know where every single penny goes - and to track trends - so we can make conscious decisions about everything.
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on September 03, 2018, 07:05:24 PM
Even countries need to track their spending, and they have billions.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale
Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: COEE on September 03, 2018, 07:26:06 PM
I've been budgeting for 6.5 years.  The first couple years helped us so much while we were getting out of debt.  Once we got out of debt and started raising our savings rate, the need for the budget has slowly dwindled.

It also helped me a lot when I was laid off to know I had a big chunk of change sitting there above and beyond what we qualified for for unemployment.  It quite literally got up a few nights in the middle of the night to look at the budget to know that we were really okay for the foreseeable future.  This is a comfort I had that I wouldn't have had if we did not use a budget.

Today I keep the budget going but we blow much of it every month.  It's just not all that useful other than knowing where our money is going and how much money everyone in the family has for their blow fund.  Which is still important, but not terribly helpful.  I am now much more interested in watching the networth and our investments grow.  I wish I had a good piece of software to do this, and I really feel that YNAB was well primed to enter this realm, but Jesse didn't for some reason.  It's just not that great at handling investments.  I'm still looking for software that does this well.  I wasn't impressed with Personal Capital or their spam mails and calls.  Or having everything in one place on a website with 24-7 access to hackers.

I've been a loyal YNAB user since YNAB3 and we are still using YNAB4.

Title: Re: Do you actively budget and is it worth it?
Post by: GuitarStv on September 04, 2018, 02:03:49 PM
Even countries need to track their spending, and they have billions.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale

That's kinda to be expected, right?  I mean, I can guarantee that 100% of the people with access to funds in my bank account are good with money and won't spend unnecessarily.  Few governments can offer the same assurance.