Poll

Do you have a budget?

Yes, and I *need* it to keep my spending under control.
2 (1.2%)
Yes, I use it to set goals to keep my spending lower than it would otherwise be.
47 (29.2%)
Yes, but only to make sure my spending stays under control.
22 (13.7%)
No, but I use tools (Mint, Quicken, spreadsheets, etc.) to keep track of my spending.
65 (40.4%)
No, and I don't really keep track of my spending.
25 (15.5%)

Total Members Voted: 156

Author Topic: Do you have a budget?  (Read 14415 times)

data.Damnation

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Do you have a budget?
« on: August 07, 2014, 09:05:49 AM »
I consider myself pretty Mustachian, but I don't have any sort of budget. I use my credit cards for almost everything and have them set up to auto pay the full bill every month. I do use mint to analyze my spending sometimes, and I have a spreadsheet of my monthly bills so I know roughly how much I'm spending and saving. But for the most part I just put stuff on the credit card when I need to, and then keep enough in checking so that the credit cards get magically paid off every month. I'm just wondering if this is unusual or not for this community.

mak1277

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2014, 09:14:42 AM »
I'm new here, so my views are subject to change. 

Currently I don't have a budget at all.  I keep track of monthly cash flow in total...total in minus total out = total saved.  For the moment, I'm plenty happy with my savings rate, while knowing it could easily be boosted with some work.  I'm in the process of determining whether the juice is worth the squeeze.  I come into this with a more natural disposition towards not spending frivolously on "things", fortunately.  I enjoy the idea that I never deprive myself of something I want because I don't want much.

aclarridge

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 09:18:18 AM »
No budget here, tried it and wife doesn't like it. I didn't love it either to be honest, it felt kind of constrictive and stress-inducing, which is completely unnecessary considering we invest a good % of income.

I track though using my own spreadsheet.

Emilyngh

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 09:25:03 AM »
I consider myself pretty Mustachian, but I don't have any sort of budget. I use my credit cards for almost everything and have them set up to auto pay the full bill every month. I do use mint to analyze my spending sometimes, and I have a spreadsheet of my monthly bills so I know roughly how much I'm spending and saving. But for the most part I just put stuff on the credit card when I need to, and then keep enough in checking so that the credit cards get magically paid off every month. I'm just wondering if this is unusual or not for this community.

Actually, IIRC MMM advocates not having a budget, so not having one certainly in not unMustachian.   We have a budget.   I like having a budget, but I don't think I'm as enlightened about money as MMM.   I still feel the urge to spend, spend, spend sometimes, and I budget helps for me to keep things in check and gives me perspective regarding over-spending vs. keeping living so leanly that it's affecting our happiness.   Ideally, I could feel this more intuitively without needing numbers, but I don't have confidence that I can.

We use Mint to track spending, but then also to compare this spending to our budget.

Wanderlusting

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2014, 09:31:58 AM »
I try to maintain a realistic monthly spending target versus a hard and fast budget. Normally i'll end up within about +/- 10% of the target, which I feel is reasonable. The only issues I run into is I mainly track spending via credit cards like you, but when I have cash on hand, or have to withdraw some I never account for that in the overall number. Conversely, I tend to average out the spending where it'll be the same over the month by spending more with cash and less on the CC bill, but I still feel that's the only weakness to my approach.

Middlesbrough

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2014, 09:39:27 AM »
I have a running expenditures and income spreadsheet. I pay my loans, pay my 401k, and pay my monthly bills first. I look at the end of the month for what I have for food, personal, and fun. No money left? No more spending.

Pay myself first, then I am free to make excuses about wants for myself.

catccc

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2014, 09:39:54 AM »
I use YouNeedABudget.  I don't need it, but I really like it.  I used to use yodlee, and I still do, but YNAB is just a different kind of tool.  It helps me avoid whim purchases.  I should note I typically do not have such things, but it just keeps me focused on our goals a bit better, and it helps us manage non-monthly recurring expenses, like tuition for the kids, insurance, etc.

Guardian

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2014, 09:41:32 AM »
As a full time student, I consider myself "damn poor" so I tend to try to cut expenses where I can. Heavily. Thus I keep a spreadsheet to stay aware, and use Mint for alerts.

Bulk food, bicycling everywhere, not eating out, LED bulbs and tower fans, turned down water heater, Kill-A-Watt, using the library, making most of my food from scratch, working for food/handouts/money when I can and having a house with a lot of free furniture really all makes a difference. Money still leaks but I'm more aware of it.

TheNorwegianGuy

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 09:54:06 AM »
I sort of have it, and sort of dont... Right before I recieve my salary I first take a brief look at the spending of the last period (in the online bank) and then take out an excel sheet and allocate the incoming money to different accounts (Savings, investing, rent, food etc). Then I just spend...

I used to have it all in an excel sheet, but now I dont really find the need or necessity of keeping track of every little penny... I trust my economical instincts on the way, this gives me sort of a feeling of freedom I really like :) I can spend on whatever I need or want, but there is not really that much I want, or need.

hybrid

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2014, 10:08:00 AM »
Nope, and I don't need one. It really doesn't matter to me how much I am spending on gas, the fact of the matter is I am consciously using less gas. It doesn't matter how much we spend on cable because we don't have cable. I don't keep track of how much we spend on food because most of it comes from Costco or is on sale so it hardly matters. We have our spending dialed in, so I don't feel any need to micromanage it.

I do keep a financial net worth spreadsheet, however, and that gets updated at the end of each month. That's all I really need to get to my goals.

Ybserp

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2014, 10:10:16 AM »
I love budgeting. Giving every dollar a job promotes discussions with my spouse about our long-term financial goals. And as things come up either of us would like to work towards, we have an excellent tool for redefining our money priorities.

Before I married, I had a loose budget in the sense that I tried to spend the least possible on any need or want and I gave myself a small allowance to blow on frivolous things. I spent a lot of time calculating long range best values of small things like garden tools and had decision paralysis on purchases of higher cost items like appliances. My allowance excess usually got rolled into a stock purchase.

After I married, I proposed a strict budget to my spouse because I thought he had horrible money habits I needed to cure. While we were dating the buying of fancy things felt like an expression of love and generosity, but the things I enjoyed from a boyfriend freaked me out in a husband. My spouse turned out to absolutely love the strict budgeting. The vast majority of the spending I objected to vanished as soon as he saw he could allocate the money to things he valued more (like long-term financial security) and that I would respect the budget and not just spending those saved dollars on other frivolous things I favored. We each have $50/mo of play money for our frivolous purchases, and I still buy stocks with it. :)

naloj

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2014, 10:11:46 AM »
Just a list of fixed expenses + estimated expenses that comprises a quasi-budget.

Such as $200/mo for vehicle maintenance and $200/mo for home repair but most months it's $0.

I find it a waste of time to track stuff.  Like at the grocery store, I buy both people food and animal food.  I don't want to analyze the receipt to break down how much I spent on each when I don't really care that much.

I try to spend the least amount possible on everything so knowing how much I spent doesn't serve a purpose since it probably can't go much lower or I know it won't be changing.

Beric01

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2014, 10:16:37 AM »
Budgeting is a total pain. My Dad tried to get me to do it, but I never could make the habit. I keep control of my spending in 2 ways: point of purchase (do I really need this?) and after the fact analysis on something similar to Mint (why am I spending so much on this?). Works great for me. I think there's a certain personality type than can budget, and it's not mine.

Janie

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2014, 10:20:44 AM »
Yes, but mainly as a coordination and communication tool with my spouse. I wouldn't need one or bother with it on my own, but it's useful to bring clarity to our financial situation and bridge the gap between our differing money management styles.

Geert_Dutch

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2014, 10:21:13 AM »
I use a budgettoll YNAB(can we name products on the forums). I got to know there are big differences in what people mean when they say budget. Some see it as fixed amount of money which you are allowed to spend. Using a budget has shown me a budget is nothing more than a rough sketch of next month. I will change and re-allocate any day of the month so that my budget matches my spending.

Sounds strange but if I would have had to change my spending just becuase I had a budget I would have stopped using a budget months ago.

Phil_Moore

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2014, 10:29:43 AM »
No. I have a spreadsheet which i update about once a year to see if anything went wrong, but frankly I'm a creature of habit so unless there is a major unplanned event it pretty much just ticks along.  I've tried it before with YNAB and found it tedious in the extreme.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 03:48:16 PM by fungalist »

Zikoris

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2014, 10:40:39 AM »
Kind of? I put "No, but we track spending with Mint". We set a budget for two categories - groceries ($230/month) and travel (<$8000/year), because it would be pretty easy to talk ourselves into spending more without it, and there's no point spending more since those are generous enough.

We set a vague annual budget for various categories,  more for forecasting than anything, based on the previous year's spending and our estimates for things like new phone contracts or changes in rent.

Otherwise our system is "Spend whatever you want, invest the rest, but keep track of every penny for later analysis". And we definitely do the analysis step - every New Years Day we do a full annual financial report with full details of all income and spending for the year.

tarheeldan

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2014, 11:38:51 AM »
Hm, I think "I made one, but now I don't really need it anymore..because I use tools (Quicken, etc.)" is about right.

Dezrah

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2014, 11:55:58 AM »
OP, great break down of answers for the poll.

We fall in the "don't budget but do track with software" category.  We pretty much buy whatever we want (our wants are few and usually cheap) and confer before making larger purchases.  If a crisis happened that moved us closer to "living paycheck to paycheck" we would absolutely utilize a budget.

Eric

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2014, 12:07:39 PM »
No budget here.  My frugality muscles are strong, so there's only a need for tracking that spending.

Helvegen

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2014, 12:08:19 PM »
I have a spreadsheet budget, but not a zero dollar one. I just am not that anal.

I budget for major items that I will be in big trouble if I have no money for: savings, rent, utilities, groceries/household, gas, daycare, sinking fund (for insurances/car repairs), student loan. Whatever is left over after all of those 'musts' have been taken care is the money for whatever else. Clothing, blow, eating out, small trips, random things that might come up. When the money is gone for those things, it is gone.

nordlead

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2014, 12:32:49 PM »
Yes, but some might consider it tracking instead.

My budgets are based on my actual spending. So my 2014 budgets are my 2013 average spending + 3% for inflation. This actually caused my grocery budget to drop from 2013 to 2014 since in 2013 I spent only 93% of my grocery budget. Things like utilities are strictly tracked. Whatever they are is what they are, but I do make sure they are optimized.

Due to having a "budget" (even if it gets constantly blown), I've gone from saving a $0/month average over 3 years to an $800/month average. (as a note, the savings were never really $0/month as I've always paid extra on the mortgage and do have a 403(b) contribution).

dorothyc

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2014, 12:33:04 PM »
Yes, but mainly as a coordination and communication tool with my spouse. I wouldn't need one or bother with it on my own, but it's useful to bring clarity to our financial situation and bridge the gap between our differing money management styles.

<-- this
We use YNAB - between mine and my wife's spending on groceries, and my college age daughter putting gas in her car, I need to make sure one of us doesn't spend money that is earmarked for higher priority stuff

MillenialMustache

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2014, 01:26:02 PM »
No budget for us - I consider every single thing before I purchase it, and if I want it more than I want that xx to be invested. I find budgets constraining. That being said, we purchase very little and are always trying to find ways to save money.

studentdoc2

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2014, 01:31:02 PM »
I've never really understood people who are anti-budget. I've always used a budget as both a retrospective and prospective tool. It's a way to make goals for myself. I constantly check it and use it to reevaluate my spending. Hmm, over-indulged on fancy groceries this month? That means it's beans and rice for the rest of the month! I find it to be the best way of maximizing my savings and keeping me conscious of where money is going. Otherwise, I find it too easy to overspend -- not on frivolous purchases, mind you, but on reasonable purchases that should really just be spread out.

But of course, we're graduate students and trying to juggle student loans, retirement, saving for a house, etc. etc. I imagine it's a little easier once you and your (good) habits are more established.

shitzmagee

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2014, 01:43:02 PM »
Kind of? I put "No, but we track spending with Mint". We set a budget for two categories - groceries ($230/month) and travel (<$8000/year), because it would be pretty easy to talk ourselves into spending more without it, and there's no point spending more since those are generous enough.

We set a vague annual budget for various categories,  more for forecasting than anything, based on the previous year's spending and our estimates for things like new phone contracts or changes in rent.

Otherwise our system is "Spend whatever you want, invest the rest, but keep track of every penny for later analysis". And we definitely do the analysis step - every New Years Day we do a full annual financial report with full details of all income and spending for the year.

Pretty much exactly the same as what I do and why. The wife knows that all I want to talk about on 1 Jan is how much we saved last year, how much money we spent in different categories, how I want to adjust things for the new year, and what our stache should look like then.

Middlesbrough

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2014, 05:29:16 PM »
I've never really understood people who are anti-budget. I've always used a budget as both a retrospective and prospective tool. It's a way to make goals for myself. I constantly check it and use it to reevaluate my spending. Hmm, over-indulged on fancy groceries this month? That means it's beans and rice for the rest of the month! I find it to be the best way of maximizing my savings and keeping me conscious of where money is going. Otherwise, I find it too easy to overspend -- not on frivolous purchases, mind you, but on reasonable purchases that should really just be spread out.

But of course, we're graduate students and trying to juggle student loans, retirement, saving for a house, etc. etc. I imagine it's a little easier once you and your (good) habits are more established.
Exactly. It is always good to know what you have done recently and what is in the future. Two weeks ago I treated myself brand named ice cream I love? Looks like no high quality cheese this month.  I put stuff on lock down recently? Yeah, I can go out tonight to whatever expensive thing a friend has in mind.

Zikoris

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2014, 06:51:41 PM »
I've never really understood people who are anti-budget. I've always used a budget as both a retrospective and prospective tool. It's a way to make goals for myself. I constantly check it and use it to reevaluate my spending. Hmm, over-indulged on fancy groceries this month? That means it's beans and rice for the rest of the month! I find it to be the best way of maximizing my savings and keeping me conscious of where money is going. Otherwise, I find it too easy to overspend -- not on frivolous purchases, mind you, but on reasonable purchases that should really just be spread out.

But of course, we're graduate students and trying to juggle student loans, retirement, saving for a house, etc. etc. I imagine it's a little easier once you and your (good) habits are more established.

I think really restrictive budgeting would be a drag. I read the Dave Ramsey forums sometimes and people talk about needing to sit down and have a budget meeting with their husband any time something unexpected comes up (not emergencies, small things like stocking up on something on sale, or some minor thing you forgot when making the budget) and re-allocate money earmarked for one thing to the new thing. It just seems like an incredible hassle for something like buying a few pairs of socks because they're on sale.

I think the Mustachian system of retraining your brain to not want things and living on a fraction of your income is much more efficient, and it pretty much eliminates the need for budgeting.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 07:47:37 PM by Zikoris »

apfroggy0408

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2014, 07:40:30 PM »
No budget but I check in on Mint monthly or so.

I don't deprive myself of anything, actually, last month I bought an expensive 40 dollar pocket knife that I just HAD to have!

mlipps

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2014, 09:25:57 PM »
I don't belong here. I am the only person who voted for the 1st option. Oh well. I am a natural born spender, but I'm trying (and succeeding for the most part) at being Mustachian, thanks to my budget!! :)

Will

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2014, 09:38:53 PM »
I've never really understood people who are anti-budget. I've always used a budget as both a retrospective and prospective tool. It's a way to make goals for myself. I constantly check it and use it to reevaluate my spending. Hmm, over-indulged on fancy groceries this month? That means it's beans and rice for the rest of the month! I find it to be the best way of maximizing my savings and keeping me conscious of where money is going. Otherwise, I find it too easy to overspend -- not on frivolous purchases, mind you, but on reasonable purchases that should really just be spread out.

But of course, we're graduate students and trying to juggle student loans, retirement, saving for a house, etc. etc. I imagine it's a little easier once you and your (good) habits are more established.

I also don't understand the anti-budget sentiment in here either.  It is kind of like saying "I don't need to (use a map/navigation device/GPS/ask how to get anywhere) because (I never go anywhere/I know how to get to where I am going/there are never any unforeseen roadblocks)."  MMM is all about optimization.  Having a budget helps you optimize the use of your money.  So yeah, you can still get to where you want to go because you already know how to get there, but maybe there is a more optimal way. 

As far as the poll question/answer choices go, none of them really apply.  I chose "Yes, I use it to set goals to keep my spending lower than it would otherwise be."  It is the answer closest to "Yes, I use it to help me optimize the use of my money." My budget isn't what keeps my spending low; it help me make the most efficient use of my money.

Also, my budget is NOT restrictive/depriving/constrictive/stress-inducing/hard and fast/micromanaged/painful/tedious in the extreme/anal/constraining/"a hassle which prevents me from stocking up on a few pairs of socks."  So many people that are anti-budget around here act like using one means you stop thinking.  It is quite the opposite; you think MORE with a budget because you are constantly trying to optimize.  Any of the things that have been said about budgeting here: would you say the same thing about optimizing being "restrictive/depriving/constrictive/stress-inducing/hard and fast/micromanaged/painful/tedious in the extreme/anal/constraining/"a hassle which prevents me from stocking up on a few pairs of socks"?

I have just the right amount of socks.

pachnik

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2014, 10:11:29 PM »
I don't have a budget but I track my spending.  I track spending by using one sheet of paper per month.  I put my columns i.e. grocery, bills, gas, etc and write down my expenditures as they come up.  Then at the end of the month I total everything.

I also don't like a lot of stuff around and don't think it is necessary to own more than a few pairs of shoes etc.  So this not wanting stuff helps.

Zikoris

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2014, 10:34:54 PM »
I've never really understood people who are anti-budget. I've always used a budget as both a retrospective and prospective tool. It's a way to make goals for myself. I constantly check it and use it to reevaluate my spending. Hmm, over-indulged on fancy groceries this month? That means it's beans and rice for the rest of the month! I find it to be the best way of maximizing my savings and keeping me conscious of where money is going. Otherwise, I find it too easy to overspend -- not on frivolous purchases, mind you, but on reasonable purchases that should really just be spread out.

But of course, we're graduate students and trying to juggle student loans, retirement, saving for a house, etc. etc. I imagine it's a little easier once you and your (good) habits are more established.

I also don't understand the anti-budget sentiment in here either.  It is kind of like saying "I don't need to (use a map/navigation device/GPS/ask how to get anywhere) because (I never go anywhere/I know how to get to where I am going/there are never any unforeseen roadblocks)."  MMM is all about optimization.  Having a budget helps you optimize the use of your money.  So yeah, you can still get to where you want to go because you already know how to get there, but maybe there is a more optimal way. 

As far as the poll question/answer choices go, none of them really apply.  I chose "Yes, I use it to set goals to keep my spending lower than it would otherwise be."  It is the answer closest to "Yes, I use it to help me optimize the use of my money." My budget isn't what keeps my spending low; it help me make the most efficient use of my money.

Also, my budget is NOT restrictive/depriving/constrictive/stress-inducing/hard and fast/micromanaged/painful/tedious in the extreme/anal/constraining/"a hassle which prevents me from stocking up on a few pairs of socks."  So many people that are anti-budget around here act like using one means you stop thinking.  It is quite the opposite; you think MORE with a budget because you are constantly trying to optimize.  Any of the things that have been said about budgeting here: would you say the same thing about optimizing being "restrictive/depriving/constrictive/stress-inducing/hard and fast/micromanaged/painful/tedious in the extreme/anal/constraining/"a hassle which prevents me from stocking up on a few pairs of socks"?

I have just the right amount of socks.

That's why I was only referring to really restrictive Dave Ramsey-style budgets - I think it's very possible to use budgets in a more sane way, but I think the very restrictive type of budgeting accounts for a fair bit of the anti-budget sentiment.

On a personal level, budgeting would be completely useless to us - we buy what we need, sell or toss of what we don't, and spend a very minimal amount overall. Given that we track everything, I don't see what benefit having a budget on top of that would provide.

Will

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2014, 10:55:55 PM »
I've never really understood people who are anti-budget. I've always used a budget as both a retrospective and prospective tool. It's a way to make goals for myself. I constantly check it and use it to reevaluate my spending. Hmm, over-indulged on fancy groceries this month? That means it's beans and rice for the rest of the month! I find it to be the best way of maximizing my savings and keeping me conscious of where money is going. Otherwise, I find it too easy to overspend -- not on frivolous purchases, mind you, but on reasonable purchases that should really just be spread out.

But of course, we're graduate students and trying to juggle student loans, retirement, saving for a house, etc. etc. I imagine it's a little easier once you and your (good) habits are more established.

I also don't understand the anti-budget sentiment in here either.  It is kind of like saying "I don't need to (use a map/navigation device/GPS/ask how to get anywhere) because (I never go anywhere/I know how to get to where I am going/there are never any unforeseen roadblocks)."  MMM is all about optimization.  Having a budget helps you optimize the use of your money.  So yeah, you can still get to where you want to go because you already know how to get there, but maybe there is a more optimal way. 

As far as the poll question/answer choices go, none of them really apply.  I chose "Yes, I use it to set goals to keep my spending lower than it would otherwise be."  It is the answer closest to "Yes, I use it to help me optimize the use of my money." My budget isn't what keeps my spending low; it help me make the most efficient use of my money.

Also, my budget is NOT restrictive/depriving/constrictive/stress-inducing/hard and fast/micromanaged/painful/tedious in the extreme/anal/constraining/"a hassle which prevents me from stocking up on a few pairs of socks."  So many people that are anti-budget around here act like using one means you stop thinking.  It is quite the opposite; you think MORE with a budget because you are constantly trying to optimize.  Any of the things that have been said about budgeting here: would you say the same thing about optimizing being "restrictive/depriving/constrictive/stress-inducing/hard and fast/micromanaged/painful/tedious in the extreme/anal/constraining/"a hassle which prevents me from stocking up on a few pairs of socks"?

I have just the right amount of socks.

That's why I was only referring to really restrictive Dave Ramsey-style budgets - I think it's very possible to use budgets in a more sane way, but I think the very restrictive type of budgeting accounts for a fair bit of the anti-budget sentiment.

On a personal level, budgeting would be completely useless to us - we buy what we need, sell or toss of what we don't, and spend a very minimal amount overall. Given that we track everything, I don't see what benefit having a budget on top of that would provide.

Yeah, the whole Dave Ramsey thing is great for people in debt.  But even MMM considers being in debt a hair-on-fire emergency which calls for restriction/deprivation/etc.  People in those situations hate budgets because it forces them to face a harsh reality.

taekvideo

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #34 on: August 08, 2014, 02:00:34 AM »
I don't spend enough to need a budget, I can keep track of it in my head ^^
Actual purchases is mostly just food... and a few other "things" that are really worth the cost.
The rest are just bills (student loans, mortgage, utilities...) that are on autopay with enough buffer in the checking account that I don't have to pay attention to it.
I just check my account after I get paid to see how much extra I can throw at the student loans, and ignore it the rest of the time (I have to remind myself to check the statements for fraud... checked the last couple months right now ^^)

I can see how it'd be useful for some people, especially couples/families... but it'd just be an unnecessary chore for me.  I haven't needed one to optimize the crap out of my spending, and I love not having to think about money most of the time.

Rienk

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #35 on: August 08, 2014, 03:12:43 AM »
I don't really budget, but I do analyze and forecast and use analysis to further optimize.

Since last year I've started doing quarterly reports and an annual report, complete with balance sheet and income statement :) However I do find that besides groceries and social activities, you can really only draw meaningful and actionable conclusions on an annual basis since so much of my spending is not comparable month by month.

Michael792

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #36 on: August 08, 2014, 03:16:03 AM »
As far as I go is: here's savings, here's spending. Is spending reasonable? Eh, not really, but the amount is small and geared toward what I enjoy. Ok, can I meet obligations? Yes. What about savings rate? 72% or higher. Think I'm doing ok. No need to track every minute detail.

Moonwaves

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #37 on: August 08, 2014, 05:47:18 AM »
I think, as someone said above, that part of the issue when talking about "do you have a budget" is that it means different things to different people. And as for restrictive budgets, well, if you're in debt or don't have a lot of money, it's kind of necessary. I could be as frugal as anything but if all I have to spend is x amount per month and everything I need costs x + y then without figuring out in advance where the money is going to go you end up in debt. Or it could be, like me, you're just out of debt and there are lots of things you've put off while in debt that would be kind of nice to get now but if you did it all in one month, you'd end up in debt again. So, it's essential to have a budget. In addition, for me anyway, it's essential to have a list of stuff I need or want. That way, when I get to next month's budget, I can check the list and see what's on there, whether or not I still need or want it and figure out what I can add it to the budget. Examples for this month include new orthotics and a bike pump, by the way, just in case anyone's interested. :)

Runge

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #38 on: August 08, 2014, 06:52:24 AM »
I think, as someone said above, that part of the issue when talking about "do you have a budget" is that it means different things to different people. And as for restrictive budgets, well, if you're in debt or don't have a lot of money, it's kind of necessary. I could be as frugal as anything but if all I have to spend is x amount per month and everything I need costs x + y then without figuring out in advance where the money is going to go you end up in debt. Or it could be, like me, you're just out of debt and there are lots of things you've put off while in debt that would be kind of nice to get now but if you did it all in one month, you'd end up in debt again. So, it's essential to have a budget. In addition, for me anyway, it's essential to have a list of stuff I need or want. That way, when I get to next month's budget, I can check the list and see what's on there, whether or not I still need or want it and figure out what I can add it to the budget. Examples for this month include new orthotics and a bike pump, by the way, just in case anyone's interested. :)

Totally agree. There are many implementations of budgets out there, good and bad. I'm personally a YNABer like some others here, and I believe it's one of the best, most flexible, useful budgeting tools out there. I use it like you do, Moonwaves. It keeps track of all the stuff that I NEED to spend, to the penny, and then I have all of my stuff that I want to save up and work toward. It helps me lay everything out so I can prioritize and optimize without double- counting money or generating fake money in my head.

FIence!

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #39 on: August 08, 2014, 08:26:49 AM »
I love my budget/money tracking. Last summer, after reading Your Money or Your Life, keeping strict tabs on every cent coming in and going out was one of the tips I took from the book. (Tips that I did not incorporate into my life include contacting the Social Security administration and figuring out my total life-long income and buying T-bills.)

We made an excel sheet, and the plan was to do it for a few months to establish a baseline so we could have a loosey-goosey budget in the future. It's been a year, and I'm still tracking pretty much to the penny. I really enjoy it! As others have said, it part works as a reminder so that when it gets to be the 23rd of the month, and I think "should we just have pizza tonight?" I can think, "We already used our restaurant budget, let's hold off on pizza until next month." It's also really good for tracking. Want to know how much gas we put into our cars for the whole year? Just add up 12 numbers and we know.

The best part for me has been to confirm how much we need to live, so when we think "We could FIRE and live on X per year," we now see that we really CAN live on X per year.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #40 on: August 08, 2014, 08:31:30 AM »
We have a budget. We aren't always strict about sticking to it lately, but it's there.

It's useful because it allows us to spend money on some things without feeling guilty -- if we have $25/mo to spend on home improvements, then I feel OK about getting a new XYZ that I've been eyeing, because it's in the budget.

Our budget's also useful when calculating how much a raise or a new job impacts our financial picture. We have gone through a lot of income fluctuation in the past year, so I can't tell you how many times I've played around with our budget, trying to determine if taking a higher-paying job with a longer commute is "worth it" or similar situations.

hybrid

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #41 on: August 08, 2014, 09:25:23 AM »
I also don't understand the anti-budget sentiment in here either.  It is kind of like saying "I don't need to (use a map/navigation device/GPS/ask how to get anywhere) because (I never go anywhere/I know how to get to where I am going/there are never any unforeseen roadblocks)."  MMM is all about optimization.  Having a budget helps you optimize the use of your money.  So yeah, you can still get to where you want to go because you already know how to get there, but maybe there is a more optimal way. 

Ah, but isn't optimization also about optimizing time? Hey, I'm all for optimization, but taking the necessary time to track all of my grocery purchases, when I already have my grocery purchases dialed in, is a sub-optimal use of my spare time.

I think for some folks like myself it's not that we are against budgets, they are simply a tool that don't benefit us. I already know where my strengths and weaknesses are, and once the frugality muscles are in place budgets are not necessary.

MillenialMustache

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #42 on: August 08, 2014, 10:11:51 AM »
I also don't understand the anti-budget sentiment in here either.  It is kind of like saying "I don't need to (use a map/navigation device/GPS/ask how to get anywhere) because (I never go anywhere/I know how to get to where I am going/there are never any unforeseen roadblocks)."  MMM is all about optimization.  Having a budget helps you optimize the use of your money.  So yeah, you can still get to where you want to go because you already know how to get there, but maybe there is a more optimal way. 

Ah, but isn't optimization also about optimizing time? Hey, I'm all for optimization, but taking the necessary time to track all of my grocery purchases, when I already have my grocery purchases dialed in, is a sub-optimal use of my spare time.

I think for some folks like myself it's not that we are against budgets, they are simply a tool that don't benefit us. I already know where my strengths and weaknesses are, and once the frugality muscles are in place budgets are not necessary.

I said above I don't have a budget. Maybe it could be claimed that my budget is "I buy whatever I want whenever I feel like it, I just have very high control over my wants". I am constantly trying to optimize my spending, so there is no need to know when each penny goes - each purchase was carefully selected individually. If I want to go out to eat, I do not want to say that I have already used up the budget in that area this month, so I cannot go. I want to say - would I save money staying home? Yes. Do I still really feel like going? Yes. Well, then I go. Or sometimes I don't. But it doesn't depend on the amount I have gone out to eat in the past month/year/whatever.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #43 on: August 08, 2014, 11:56:48 AM »
I've never had a budget. We track spending in Quicken, but I didn't really pay attention for a long time. I think we're going to have to do a budget for a while. We need to cut down our non-housing living expenses significantly if our stash is going to last. The first step is to see in more detail where it's going, and find painless things to cut first.

istbenz

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #44 on: August 09, 2014, 12:20:11 AM »
Yes, but mainly as a coordination and communication tool with my spouse. I wouldn't need one or bother with it on my own, but it's useful to bring clarity to our financial situation and bridge the gap between our differing money management styles.

This.

We came into our marriage with vastly different styles and ideas. We still have different ideas, of course, but we're both on the same page headed in the same direction. Our very brief monthly budget meeting allows us to worry about money once and forget it (I use the word 'forget' loosely). Cuts the hassle and headache to almost nothing.

BA

alsoknownasDean

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Do you have a budget?
« Reply #45 on: August 09, 2014, 03:19:54 AM »
I tend to take the approach of setting a fortnightly allowance for most small purchases/cash (food, haircuts, some clothes, booze, the odd coffee, Spotify subscription, etc), then paying bills/rent, with the remainder going to savings.

It works for me. I'm working on bringing down the allowance gradually. It's about $150 a fortnight lower than it used to be :) Still plenty of fat to cut though.

Rural

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #46 on: August 09, 2014, 06:30:26 AM »
No budget, no regular tracking. We did track carefully for all of 2007 to help us rachet down. Most years, we put together a predictive spreadsheet to see what the most optimal arrangement of fixed expenses, investments, etc. will be -- usually this happens around open enrollment season. Sometimes I go and look at some historic data to answer a question posted here because it's interesting. But that's it. We're set in our habits and both pulling in the same direction, which is a relief because tracking and budgeting are a major pain, for us at any rate.

Joel

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #47 on: August 09, 2014, 10:02:56 AM »
Yes, I've been using ynab for almost six years now.

YoungInvestor

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #48 on: August 09, 2014, 10:23:36 AM »
I have a decent idea of how much I spend on everything, but to me, everything is just an account balance that should be moving up at around a certain speed. I don't really begin the week/month with a fix amount to spend, but I do keep track of my spending. If I spend more on movies than usual, no big deal as long as my overall savings meet the standards I want them to.

bearkat

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Re: Do you have a budget?
« Reply #49 on: August 09, 2014, 04:26:39 PM »
I said no to the budget,  but track spending with YNAB and Mint. If you know where your money is going, and are pretty happy with the results... A prescriptive budget seems unnecessary.