Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Envelope Budgeting Method Recap + More Free Ways to Budget

The new year is a fresh chance to start right with budgeting, saving, and keeping a close eye on expenses. The envelope budgeting method makes it simple. I'm back on budget this year and ready to be the cheapest bastard alive, here's the budget for January:


Groceries:  $200
Car's Gas:  
$40 
Thrifting:
  $50*
Fun Stuff: 
$75
*  I may raise the budget and get more merchandise depending on how much I sell locally.

If you want to join in on the fun, here's the rules: 

1
.) Don't spend over the cash amount in the envelope.  2.) Once the money's gone, it's gone! No switching money to other envelopes. 3.) Make it a game, try to have money leftover by the end of the month.

Use Google Documents to Track Spending:

  
I've fallen off of keeping track of everything single thing I buy with Google Documents but I'm back on the wagon! Google documents is free, fast, easy-to-use and even collaborative. I love how it can be accessed and edited from anywhere and it's my favorite way to keep track of expenses and edit documents for work.

Write It All Down in a Note or Budget Book:

 The pens are from a color-coded merchandise inventory system a friend and I may try.

I found this Household budgeting book on clearance at an office max years ago, I'm reviving it this year to track everything I spend like I used to. I also love to track my merchandise and spending in a composition book. It's old-fashioned but it makes everything more tangible and just works for me. Added bonus for having a non-digital back-up for spending.


I'd love to have smart phone aps and web applications to recommend but I haven't found one I like yet. Do you have one you like to use? I'd love to read your recommendations in the comments.

How do you keep track of your spending? Are you going to budget for the new year? Now's a good time to start, it's harder once the year's already in swing.
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23 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tip Van. I've got to try these out!

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  2. I want to try the envelope method especially for thrifting and groceries(two areas where it's easy for me to go overboard).
    I'm amazed at how little you spend on groceries and gas a month.That is per month right?Because I spend that much per week on groceries.Of course,that factors in me, the hubby,the 4 year old, and two teenagers.I'm pretty sure my 16 yo son has hollow legs,lol.

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    1. Yep, that amount is monthly. I struggle with groceries, too. Especially since I'm experimenting with expensive superfoods and supplements. At least I just feed myself! I don't know how families can do it. I can buy groceries at discount from the raw vegan kitchen I work at, which helps me save. I'm always looking for ways to buy produce inexpensively.

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  3. We use Mint.com and our system is almost exactly the same as the envelope method, just virtual. I set a certain amount for each of the categories we have and then we don't spend any more than that. Since most of our regular bills are the same every month, that's pretty easy. The worst for us is groceries. Ideally I'd like to spend $100/week for groceries, but that seems to be an impossible goal for us to meet. So far I've gotten it down to about $150/week, but with the price of all the fresh stuff rising so rapidly lately, it's getting worse instead of better. In the past I've planted our garden with what looks fun and interesting, but I'm toying with the idea of planting with a produce goal in mind instead. Anyway, I agree that making it into a game is helpful to inspire me to actually pay close attention and try to improve.

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    1. I'll be gardening this year too and tracking expenses to see if it saves us some money on groceries this year. It's hard to get expenses down, but the start of the year is a nice time to try. The challenge really can be fun!

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  4. You are a breath of fresh air. I'm terrible with money. You inspire me. Gotta get my act together. I need to use Google Documents too. That's clever and free. Take care.

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    1. Hope it works for you! :) Thank you for the kind words.

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  5. I'm wary of keeping track of how much I spend vs profit. I know I should. I'm just afraid of feeling discouraged. What if I'm not making as much as I feel like I do? It's silly but kind of scary to know because my internet sales are half of my income.

    If I ever start keeping track color coded pens seem like an excellent way to easily reference what you're looking for.

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    Replies
    1. You're right, it can be scary, but definitely necessary to recognize trends, improve, and increase profit.

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  6. I keep track of every single item I have in my booths in a notebook. I write down what I paid and what I have it down for, and at the end of the month, when I get my statements, sold items get crossed off in a monthly color. Really helps me to know what sells faster than others.

    Budget-wise, we have always been thrifty and tightwads because we're a family of 7 (us, 4 kids and my mom lives with us) and we're living off one tiny income and what we make at the booths. Coupons are a life saver, not just for food, but for a lot of household goods as well. We have cats- 7 to be exact, so when I spot a really good deal on litter, we stock up, big time. It might cut into the grocery budget, but then I don't have to buy litter for a loooooong time and at higher prices. (Target is having a great sale right now on litter, by the way... buy 2 and get a $5 gift card and if you go to Target's website, you can print out a Target coupon for $2 off. Be sure to print it twice! and you can use both coupons for $4 off total!)

    We are always on the look-out for clearance items year-round and it helps to know when certain items go on sale and know your prices. It's a bit of work and takes some effort, but once the ball gets rolling, it gets easier.

    P.S. $40 for gas?? Lucky you!!

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    Replies
    1. I work from home and live in an area where I can walk and bike a lot of places, I've never had to pay this little for gas, I'm lucky! That's amazing that you support a family of 7 by being frugal as hell, I love that. Thank you for the Target tip, I really want to get into coupons more this year.

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  7. I've tried Learnvest and Mint online - they are great sites but they don't STOP you from spending money. I am pretty old school when it comes to keeping receipts, using a budget notebook and keeping a checkbook. I think I might need to try your method because if I just have XX amount of cash and I leave my debit card at home, I can't over spend.
    I have found some very helpful financial calculator apps that have helped me figure out a workable plan for my debt repayment (student loans out to get me!) I have also started writing how much I spend in my planner - that way I can actually, really see it, every day and stop myself from being wasteful.
    Love your blog. Happy 2013!!

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    1. I tried Mint but I didn't like it much, I want to give it another chance and see what it can do. I'm lucky my finances are super simple, I don't feel like Mint was necessary. I keep all of my receipts too. The cash-only method is a good way to keep from spending more, and having to hand-write things in a ledger further keeps you from wanting to spend money on frivolous things, both actions really make things tangible. Good luck repaying those student loans!

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  8. Van, I have the same composition book and I'm a little old skool too and write everything down in a ledger book. I don't track my personal finances but have started to keep cash for all my resell purposes in an envelope, but mostly to keep it separate from personal use cash.

    My resell ledger, tracks every single item, where I bought it, for how much, and how much I sold an item for (I neglect this step the most). I don't write everything down but I would say about 80% of the information is recorded which is a big step from a year ago when I wasn't writing anything down at all.

    I like having the ledger book, mainly because I can carry it with me on vintage shopping trips, and record things as soon as I purchase them.

    Overall, my expense tracking is still a work in progress and it's one of my main goal's to hone a better system down.

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    1. That's why I like hand-writing too, it's just quicker and easier when you're thrifting on the go. I have that I'll have to guess what I paid for from lack of tracking over the years, can't let that happen anymore!

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  9. so you don't have household expenses? or are they figured elsewhere?

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    1. My other expenses are car insurance, rent, phone bill, and my comcast bill. I pay all of those except for car insurance automatically through direct deposit. I love not having to think about them! I do double duty with that by paying them automatically with my credit card to establish credit then having the credit card automatically paid with money from savings the first of the month.

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  10. ohhhh smart!!! dang Iw anna be you when I grow up!

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