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 Post subject: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 2:48 pm 
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Dying from Nooch Lung
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I used to budget my money on a spreadsheet in Google Sheets, which was ok, but kind of annoying. This was back when I was living on the poverty line and barely had any money to budget anyway. Since I've been in the lower-middle class range (my yearly income is slightly higher than my entire student loan balance!) I haven't done much to actually budget except...try not to spend that much money and do some calculations in my head? I would like to get back to actually budgeting but so far I am super annoyed by all the options.

I started a trial of You Need a Budget and am mostly confused by it. The new online version does sync with online accounts but it won't play nice with my credit union apparently. So I entered a bunch of transactions manually 6 days ago and logged in again today and now I'm not sure where I left off on entering them since when I go to the list of transactions it doesn't have numbers, and I am confused on how to deal with things like when my roommates give me their rent and bills money and then I pay all of the rent and bills, and I'm pretty sure that when I entered all my transactions last time it ended up being a few dollars off and I couldn't figure out where the mistake was so it will probably be a few dollars off forever? So basically just looking at it is stressing me out which perhaps does not bode well for something I am supposed to be using daily.

I looked at Good Budget which seemed promising (you can import your bank information through a CSV file!) but then it couldn't see the amounts my credit union listed as amounts (??) and the trial has really limited functionality and I didn't feel like paying to see what it would actually be like.

I used to use Mint but right now I can't get it to sync with my checking account either, I would also prefer something more hands on and not just something that emails me to say I went over my budget that I then ignore.

Maybe the solution is just a spreadsheet again, or something else? What do other people use?

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:22 pm 
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I used mint for mine, it seems to sync ok with my stuff and I use the app so I get angry messages and emails.

My roommate takes out his money at the first of each month and physically splits it into envelopes for his alotted budgets thereby forcing him to adhere to it because otherwise there is no money. I think he also has a loose change jar, he throws change into which he then uses for whatever he needs as the month draws to a close. It's old school, but it works for him.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:23 pm 
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I had syncing issues with Mint, but I think it was the security settings I had on my bank account.

I use Gail vaz Oxlade's budget sheets. For variable spending there's a weekly or monthly "jar" that you have a set amount in, so far the most foolproof method is to carry around a small notebook in my purse and subtract the amount I spent from the appropriate jar. For example, if I spend 15.56 on a shirt, I subtract that from the Clothing jar that has 30 dollars a month. I prefer writing to putting that into a budget app, and I'd rather do it shortly after spending because if I just save my receipts, when I get home at the end of the day I might be too lazy to write it all out at once.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:52 pm 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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I've used Mint, etc. . . I found that a spreadsheet just works better, for me. Yeah, it's annoying, but you have more control.

This reminds me that I need to get back on the wagon, so to speak. So thank you!

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:22 pm 
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This doesn't really budget for you, but I use Quicken and manually enter all my transactions. I feel like it gives me the best sense of my spending since I have to enter every transaction. It's a super old version so I'm not actually sure what it's like nowadays! I didn't love Mint, and I just started the trial period of YNAB but haven't gotten fully in the swing of it yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:43 pm 
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YNAB is envelope method right?

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:41 am 
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So it's not personal budgeting really...but I've just started using the app "splitwise" to upload the bills my roommate owes me. It's not that I've demanded money and he doesn't pay...I just hate asking for money, and apparently he's one of those people who will never think to offer if not asked. (I mean honestly, do you really think the internet is free? or that I've somehow found a way to avoid paying the astronomical annual renters tax in the city?)

I just added up everything I haven't asked him for, and it's just short of 5000 shekels, which is money I could REALLY USE. It also explains why he can afford to go out for meals and I can't...

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:12 am 
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If you make enough money that you know you should have some left at the end of the month but it never seems to happen, I find the Ramit Sethi method (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) (yeah, I know) works well. You decide on your savings goals, automate them at the beginning of the month along with your recurring bills, and live with the rest. It's quite freeing if you were used to live with very little, because as long as you meet your saving goal for the month you can spend the rest however you like and don't have to pinch pennies. It's also good for people who suck at keeping a budget (like me).


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:09 am 
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I do a spreadsheet.

I keep a total of how much is in the bank and update that regularly. I have a tab with all my regular outgoings by date and change them to 0 when they have come out the bank so the total updates.

I try to get most direct debits / bills to come out at the beginning of the month and as soon as I get paid I move my savings and pay anything that has to be done manually. I think the main thing for me is regularly updating my spreadsheet. Every other day at least.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:05 am 
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aelle wrote:
If you make enough money that you know you should have some left at the end of the month but it never seems to happen, I find the Ramit Sethi method (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) (yeah, I know) works well. You decide on your savings goals, automate them at the beginning of the month along with your recurring bills, and live with the rest. It's quite freeing if you were used to live with very little, because as long as you meet your saving goal for the month you can spend the rest however you like and don't have to pinch pennies. It's also good for people who suck at keeping a budget (like me).


That kind of reminds me of my husband's favorite finance book, the Richest man in Babylon. But it is about cutting debt. It basically says save 10%, put 10% towards debts and then use the rest. I forget what it says if one doesn't have debts.

My problem, which I figure maybe I should work towards, is I save plenty, no debts but I could be more efficient towards what I spend money on.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:26 am 
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I don't make enough money to save any significant sum every month (so 10% of my income would be less than 100 a month, which I do try to save), but I am trying to make the best of the money I have, that's why I try budgeting. I want to travel a lot this year and even when doing this cheaply

I have also good experience with physically budgeting the money. We do that for our household so everyone puts 130 euros a month into our shared pot and we spend it on food, toiletries and other stuff we both need (for example this month we bought a smoke detector). Online I find it harder to not spend money because it's less visible and I impulse-buy too easily.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:59 am 
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Budgeting is depressing to me. I tend to think the whole concept of "save your way to wealth" is a fraud to make rich people feel like they did something worthwhile to get where they are. As if the poor can just spend less no matter their income.

I don't really have any expenses I can cut. Bills take over half of my money and food is more than the rest. I don't go out to eat, go to the movies, travel, have cable, etc. I think I'm just going to have to get a second job.


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:47 am 
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Dying from Nooch Lung
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Tigon wrote:
Budgeting is depressing to me. I tend to think the whole concept of "save your way to wealth" is a fraud to make rich people feel like they did something worthwhile to get where they are. As if the poor can just spend less no matter their income.

I don't really have any expenses I can cut. Bills take over half of my money and food is more than the rest. I don't go out to eat, go to the movies, travel, have cable, etc. I think I'm just going to have to get a second job.


My goal of budgeting isn't to save or pay more than any minimum payments--creating a budget basically just confirmed that those aren't currently possible goals for me, which was very depressing! It is literally to stop overdrawing my account every single month and to make sure I have enough money for my cat's meds.

I ended up creating a budget using the tools that apparently come with my online banking that I've never looked at before. Since it's just for my checking account I can't make goals about paying off my credit cards or anything but again my only goal is paying the minimum payments on time so it should work ok.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:55 am 
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Bathes in Braggs
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Good luck! Budgeting does seem very useful for putting the situation in writing and forcing the tough decisions that need to be made.

In many ways I'm lucky to have some savings to live on while I struggle financially. At some point I may have to think about tough choices like selling my car and dropping health insurance.


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:57 am 
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aelle wrote:
If you make enough money that you know you should have some left at the end of the month but it never seems to happen, I find the Ramit Sethi method (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) (yeah, I know) works well. You decide on your savings goals, automate them at the beginning of the month along with your recurring bills, and live with the rest. It's quite freeing if you were used to live with very little, because as long as you meet your saving goal for the month you can spend the rest however you like and don't have to pinch pennies. It's also good for people who suck at keeping a budget (like me).

I didn't know there was a particular method to this, but this is pretty much what I do. I pay all of the bills at the first of the month regardless of what their due date is. Everything left is what we have for food and anything. However, if you're like me and get paid twice a month, it can result in being completely broke at the first of the month, and then being way too not-broke when that second paycheck comes. I even this out a bit by setting aside a chunk of that second paycheck to use for food/spending at the first of the next month.

I also have a credit card that I use for everything. I try not to draw on my checking ever. Then I pay down the full balance of that credit card every month. So my soft limit on the credit card is the spending money I have in checking. It has a couple benefits. It's keeping a layer of protection between stores and my checking account, because credit cards typically do better consumer/fraud protection than banks do. I also get all of the credit card cashback benefits even though I never maintain a balance on the card. However, it's not for the undisciplined. It'd be easy to fall into a hole if I wasn't paying off that balance every single month.


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:35 pm 
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Tigon wrote:
Budgeting is depressing to me. I tend to think the whole concept of "save your way to wealth" is a fraud to make rich people feel like they did something worthwhile to get where they are. As if the poor can just spend less no matter their income.

I don't really have any expenses I can cut. Bills take over half of my money and food is more than the rest. I don't go out to eat, go to the movies, travel, have cable, etc. I think I'm just going to have to get a second job.


When I was in debt, I used spreadsheets to budget so that I could figure out my income, expenses and debts. It wasn't until I sat down and figured this out that I was able to really see where my issues were at. I ended up moving in with my parents for 2 years because I realized there was no way my expenses could be less than my income. My mom's suggestion at the time was to get a second job (she worked multiple jobs throughout her life so it was always the answer she fell back on). I will say I've been lucky in a lot of things financially and the 2 years living at home enabled me to clear my debt and learn how to start saving.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:58 pm 
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aelle wrote:
If you make enough money that you know you should have some left at the end of the month but it never seems to happen, I find the Ramit Sethi method (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) (yeah, I know) works well. You decide on your savings goals, automate them at the beginning of the month along with your recurring bills, and live with the rest. It's quite freeing if you were used to live with very little, because as long as you meet your saving goal for the month you can spend the rest however you like and don't have to pinch pennies. It's also good for people who suck at keeping a budget (like me).



There's a free app called Level that uses this method. I've used Mint before and find Level easier and more intuitive to use. It's occasionally glitchy (once it got stuck and wouldn't update my bank account and credit card info and I had to basically reinstall and put all my info back in) and might be US-only. I think Capital One just bought them, though, so perhaps fewer glitches in the future.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:45 pm 
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I'm way into this right now, so I apologize if this is long.

I've been using YNAB for a month, and I like it. It has really helped with my willpower so far. I don't make much (that's my biggest problem), so there isn't a lot to save, or use to pay down debt, but I am trying to reduce my spending and save what I can. So far it has worked! I have a little money in my account that I refuse to spend, which is kind of a first.

Since they only allow you to budget what money you have (not what you'll be getting in the future), and since it's still new for me, I'm also still using my old bill schedule spreadsheet to plan a few months ahead and my check register-type phone app to enter transactions and keep an eye on my account balance. When I use my debit card, I take a few seconds to enter the transaction in the YNAB app and my other app. (I don't use the YNAB automatic bank import feature). Eventually I'll drop the other app.

With the spreadsheet I can schedule which bills to pay with which paycheck (especially necessary since my job just changed from weekly to bi-weekly pay). Then when I get paid, I go into YNAB and direct money to those bills, my other expenses (food, gas, dog food, etc), a tiny amount of savings (seriously, like $25), and whatever else (shampoo, light bulbs, whatever). And when my grocery money is gone, it's gone. That's where I overspend most, so I think it's where a budget will make the most difference.


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:51 pm 
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As far as your roommate giving you money, I assume you deposit it in your account? I would just add a transaction and classify it as Inflow: To be budgeted.

And if your balance is off, try the Reconcile Account button in the top right. I honestly haven't used it so I don't know what the fizzle it does, but it might help. And YNAB has lots of videos and classes to learn! Here's the User Guide: http://www.youneedabudget.com/learn/guide/user-handbook


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:20 pm 
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I use an excel speadsheet, and love it. It's simple, but I like being hands on with it and it shows me what I'm interested in.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:05 am 
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So I decided to try out the YNAB online version. It is apparently $45 for the year after a 34 day trial. So far I like it. I put money into various categories and it added up to a lot more than I expected but I think I need to watch it and adjust my budgets as reality comes into the picture. I think it helps me realize where my money is really going, which helps.

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:36 am 
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I'm probably going to get a big tax refund! I should probably update my W4 so that I quit overpaying taxes.


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:40 pm 
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I use a spreadsheet for the major budgeting (bills, student loans, a couple of types of savings: emergency fund, investing, travel) and then I have one line in there that is my unrestricted spending money. I keep my fun money in an entirely separate account and don't track it on the spreadsheet beyond noting the total amount I moved over for the month.

For my untracked spending money, I use Simple bank and set goals in there if I know I have expenses coming up, or want to save for something. Right now I'm saving for moto tires, moto blinkers, a pair of boots that I might not want by the time I save enough, drinks with a specific friend (we take turns treating and it usually runs a bit high), etc. It automatically takes a bit of money each day for each goal and leaves me a pot of money to spend. If I go over the available pot, it just takes from the goals since it's all still one account.

When I had cats, they had a line in my budget as well as a savings line (for vet visits).


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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:19 pm 
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I was so hopeful when I started this thread!

I'm still using the budgeting tool provided by my credit union. It's good! I have a better idea of where my money is going. Then I look at it and want to cry. Then I think if I stare at it more I'll eventually figure out how I can afford everything. (I have $125 of medical bills that are due right now umm that money should appear right?) And then it's my friend's birthday and I promised her I would go so I buy a drink anyway. And then I categorize the purchase as "food and dining" and feel worse about myself and realize I need to take Agnes to a follow up vet appointment in 10 days and the regular vet doesn't take Care Credit like her cardiologist does (obviously I already felt bad about using Care Credit and increasing my debt). And then I realize that pet license fees are due but they won't come after me so I can put that off until February...well ok if I pay my own medical bills in February maybe March...also maybe at some point I should pay that student loan I haven't paid in two years?

Budgeting is the worst. (I'm still doing it.)

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 Post subject: Re: Budgeting methods
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:44 pm 
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That makes me really sad srock. Good luck!

Sometimes I think not spending money is like exercising. It might be easier to work on increasing income instead. But I like that this thread is here to keep me on track!


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