Budgeting is such a nasty word. I keep a pretty anal [pardon the expression] spreadsheet of my expenses, debts, savings, etc. and I balance my checkbook daily with my bank online. I literally have a spreadsheet per year detailed by month down to any category you can imagine and except for surprises have a pretty good budget worked out. I no longer share a bank account with anyone and prefer it that way as does B [I had a joint account with my ex husband] .
I have heard there are some pretty good sites that will do that for you and you can report off it. I have not made the jump yet. I suppose I am a control freak who just can’t give up her spreadsheets.
I do have a problem, I spend way to much money on dining out, adult beverages [good craft beer] and coffee.
I know to the penny how much I have spent so far this year organized by month and category. One caveat is the coffee category does include a breakfast sandwich here and there and the dining out category can usually include beer as we do a lot of happy hours when we do dine out. The real numbers are kind of scary so I will give you percentages based on net take home pay.
So far this year to date…
- Dining Out 10%
- Craft Beer 7%
- Coffee 3%
OK so those numbers may not look so bad but in total that is 20% of my take home pay and my budget is much less [3%, 2% & 1% respectively – 6% in total].
The problems I face and what leads to overspending is preparation and the BF just a bit. I will explain.
Dining Out: You see, B likes to eat lunch later in the day and is not usually hungry for dinner until at least eight PM. He also likes to get as much done at home as possible after work so foregoing eating until later works for him. There are many a day where I come home and want dinner right away. Lately we will go out Geocaching and by the time we are ready to go home we don’t feel like cooking so grab a happy hour, go to bed late and are not prepared the next day for bringing breakfast and lunch so the cycle continues with a trip through SBUX on the way to work and running out for lunch. Let’s not even get started on the food I am eating – can you say processed and high fat/sugar? I have resolved to do the following.
- Make it a habit of preparing breakfast and lunch for the next day when I get home.
- Having a snack in the afternoon [also prepared at home the previous night].
- Talking to B about perhaps figuring out a good compromise for dinner time that meets both our needs.
- On the occasions where I just can’t wait, making my own dinner.
Craft Beer: B and I are big craft beer fans. We go to the pub by our house every Wednesday for tastings. We frequent a brewery every other week near our chiropractor. We often go to breweries on our monthly camping trips [usually includes a meal as well]. We purchase really good beer like some people purchase wine for their cellars. That is not going to stop but I can find ways to cut back.
- Opting to drink water after work instead of winding down by splitting a beer with B.
- Saving the really good beer we have purchased for special occasions.
- Limiting the number of beers I have on an outing.
Coffee: I will admit, the urge to purchase at Starbucks every morning has faded. My coffee drink of choice [iced mocha] is almost $4 and high in sugar. We have a great Starbucks machine at work that will grind and brew you a fresh cup of coffee that is FREE to me. Once I get through the morning I generally don’t need coffee in the afternoon. I think the drive through is more of a habit anyway and would help with my commute time if I didn’t go. Here are the things I could do to reduce my expenses in this area.
- Treat myself to one Starbucks beverage a week with my preloaded app.
- Change my drink to something with less sugar [which may end up being less expensive].
- Prepare coffee in our French press at home in the mornings – or – create cold press on Sunday for the week.
- Cut back on coffee in general [although I don’t drink a lot – one cup per day].
These are things that are all good but I feel I need a little more motivation for spending less. What is a better motivator aside from the fact that I will probably feel better and lose weight?
I already have a slush fund where I round up my expenditures to the next $ and the difference I am saving to purchase Christmas gifts [already at $228.85 to date]. I think I can also have a slush to pad my savings. I already have $100 per check automatically deposited in savings and other savings transfers I have budgeted every pay period.
Starting today I will be paying myself for not going out to eat, buying craft beer or coffee each day that I do that. Kind of like a little gold star for my savings account. For now I believe I will pay myself $3 per day I don’t do those things [$1 for each category]. We shall see how this goes. I already have a line item in my checkbook so I will just add to it every day. I will add this as a category in my monthly wrap up emails to keep track of how well I do.
Potentially between now and the end of April I can add an additional $38 to my savings account so that is the goal. It may not seem like a lot but every little bit helps.
If you are married or in a serious relationship do you have a combined bank account? Do you utilize an online service to track your budget? How do you handle those hard to resist categories of spending?