What level of detail do you budget to?

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enderland
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What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by enderland » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:35 am

I find that if I budget really detailed, I have a hard time with it. Living with two roommates (we split food/utilities/rent, I pay and then they pay me at end of months) makes it more complicated too.

I'm curious what level of detail you all budget to.

I basically have the following groupings:
  • Fixed monthly amounts (insurances, taxes, tithe, phone, 401k/roth ira, etc)
  • Recurring savings for fluctuating categories (car maint, car gas, clothing)
  • Some specific "I want to be careful not to spend more on" categories (coffee, eating out, girlfriend)
  • a "everything else" category for misc stuff I don't want to track (laundry, a new keyboard, headphone amp were last months in this)
  • Living expenses (roughly an upper bound over the past year, but not at all itemized)
I dislike trying to budget the last two categories down to too specifics - I don't want to have to break the misc category into all its components. This also results with me having leftovers which are unaccounted for in my budget (such as, if I spend only $450 on living expenses and I'm budgeting $500, because I'm not tracking it closely I get $50 more in my checking which is just "there" - eventually I have to clean this up) but I guess I don't have a whole ton of interest in micromanaging this on a monthly basis (same with unspent money in categories in my budget).

What does everyone else do for level of detail on budgets? Any suggestions for ways to more efficiently do this?

connya
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by connya » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:42 am

I will be the first to admit that I don't have a good hold on my budget. It is divided into:

Fixed recurring expenses (rent, mortgage, utilities, other bills, short term and long term savings): bank account / debit card
Everything else: credit card

I don't track the "everything else" expenses very well, but since they're all on a credit card I will know exactly how much I need to put aside each month to pay for last month's total.

Default User BR
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Default User BR » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:16 am

I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.


Brian

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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:19 pm

My budget is: 1) Cash Inflow minus 2) retirement savings,rent or mortgage,health insurance, home insurance,food,clothing,utilities Equals 3)Disposable income minus your level of expenditure = extra cash in which to allocate to additional investments or savings.
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ddunca1944
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by ddunca1944 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:35 pm

I budget to a pretty detailed level. I have 10 main categories and most of those have 2-3 sub categories. But I am a detail oriented person, and enjoy it.

Since you've stated that you don't like to budget to a very detailed level, I suggest you don't. As long as you put savings first and don't spend more than you have coming in, you should be fine.

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Boglenaut
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Boglenaut » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:39 pm

Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty

Our case exactly. No need to budget. My spending would probably increase if I started budgeting.

fkampere
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by fkampere » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:45 pm

From Mint

Food & Dining (Food, Alcohol, Fast Food)
Auto & Transport (Gas, Insurance, Maintenance)
Mortgage & Rent (Rent)
Everything Else (Anything that doesn't fit in the other categories)

Any extra money goes into savings.

sport
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by sport » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:49 pm

Here is a method that worked for me for many years for 24 paychecks per year.
1. Retirement savings is automatic and comes out first (401k)
2. Mortgage payment comes out of every other check. Car fund payment comes out of the other checks.
3. All large predictable expenses (real estate taxes, insurances, etc.) are added together and 1/24 is set aside from each check.
4. Whatever remains after 1,2, and 3 may be spent on anything we want.

Jeff

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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by bungalow10 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:52 pm

Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.


Brian
We are kind of the opposite of Brian. I figure out how much we want to save, save it first, and then spend the rest.

There are flaws with this method, but it seems to us to be a good balance - we meet our savings goals without micromanaging.

Every once in a while I freak out and get out the spreadsheets and figure out what we need to cut out (lifestyle creep).
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

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Blues
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Blues » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:54 pm

Much like a couple others have already posted, I've never used one...The only rule was to save and invest as much toward retirement as possible (without sacrificing enjoying the present)...and never spend more than you could afford to pay in full when the bill came due.

That self-adopted advice has now seen me (and the missus) through going on ten years of retirement (at age 60).
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

rr2
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by rr2 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:05 pm

I have a budget but it is more used to track expenses more than anything. The categories are very general and limited:
Home includes mortgage PITI, utilities, minor maintenance plus extra principal
Groceries includes personal care items, paper products, etc
Dining out includes coffee, pizza, sandwiches etc.
Gas + minor auto expenses
Irregular includes life, auto insurance etc. which are non monthly
Pet care
Misc discretionary shopping electronics, music, books, apps, clothing, shoes, etc
Savings category for regular taxable and Roth IRA
Medical copays

All category budgets are zeroed out every month except for the irregular which kinda functions as my escrow account. Balances left before zeroing are transferred to an online savings account which is a combination of an Emergency fund + short term savings account. This account is also used for larger unknown expenses such as auto repair which cannot be cash flowed monthly.

Retirement contributions for 403b come directly out of payroll deductions and are therefore not budgeted.

I use a software called moneywell which is available for macs.
Last edited by rr2 on Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cheese_breath
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:21 pm

I’m retired and I’m not as concerned with staying within a budget as those living on a monthly paycheck. I budget by month, but don’t go a great level of detail within the month. My budgeting categories are:

• Medical and dental insurance
• Utilities and non-medical insurance
• Income tax / estimated taxes
• Tithing and contributions
• Miscellaneous (which consists of everything else)

To establish the budget for any month I take the previous year’s actuals for that month and apply an inflation factor. I have the ability to specify different inflation factors for each category. And that’s it except for adding any special non-recurring expenses within the appropriate month. For example, if I’m planning on buying a new car that would be a special on-recurring expense. So long as my long range forecast keeps predicting my money will last longer than I will, I use that as my budget. During the month I do enter actuals at the detail level to roll up to the summary level information I need for developing the next year’s budget.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by gkaplan » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:29 pm

I don't budget. I do have a Excel spreadsheet to track my daily spending. I also have a "Funds Inflow" spreadsheet that tracks incoming funds: wages, tax refunds, flexible spending account reimbursements, and so on.
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Novine
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Novine » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:44 pm

Each time this question comes up, my first question is "what are you trying to accomplish with your budget?" The kind of budget you have and the detail you need to track are largely going to be determined by what you are trying to achieve. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck or trying to reign in expenses, living on a budget may be necessary and require a detailed level of tracking. If you're simply trying to keep track of general levels of income and expenses, you may not even need a formal budget, simply a way to track your paychecks and bills.

My wife and I don't use a formal budget. Instead, we track all of our income and expenses each month in a handful of categories. Each category has a few line items to sort the expenses and we cover miscellaneous items with an other line item and a note about the expenditure. This method of tracking helps us see where we are spending money, where we can possibly save more and why we might have spent more/saved less in a month. Since we generally keep our expenses well below our income, we don't feel the need to have a formal budget. But we do have some specific saving and investment goals so we do use our monthly tracking to help achieve those.

tim1999
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by tim1999 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:00 pm

My categories are:
Mortgage, property taxes/house insurance, natural gas, electric, water/sewer/trash, house maintenance, cable/internet, food, booze, golf, Gasoline/car maintenance, car insurance, travel, clothes/personal care, medical/dental, home furnishings/misc. gadgets, charity, entertainment, Roth IRA, and taxable savings/investments.

Saving$
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Saving$ » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:03 pm

Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.


Brian
+1 without the brother comments as I don't have one of those. BUT I've kept very detailed track of my expenses for the last 20 years, I can account for EVERYTHING except about $150-$200/year. Thus I can easily model my cash flow needs and view my changes in spending.

stoptothink
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:10 pm

My overall expenses are very few (rent, food, gas, and car insurance) and are essentially fixed. My rent includes utilities and internet, I eat the same thing literally every day, and most of my commuting is by bike. Budgeting at all would be superfluous, I could tell you every penny I spent the last few months off the top of my head. I max out my Roth the beginning of the year, about 1/4 of my income goes directly to 401k and HSA, and whatever is left over sits in my ALLY account replenishing my e-fund (which was almost $0 due to having to purchase a new car) and accumulating for next year's Roth. I like keeping it simple.

BerkeleyChris
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by BerkeleyChris » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:51 pm

i budget in about 10 broad categories that i monitor in mint, but i subcategorize individual transactions so that i can see within an individual category what is driving that area's expense. I started tracking everything about 7 years ago with quicken and then moved to mint.com...i used the budget initially to figure out how to drastically reduce spending with the goal of paying off my house and being totally debt free. Going through the exercise, I think, was a big part of changing my habits.

I still track everything with mint just to see what is going on, but now I have everything automated to make sure my goals are accomplished first...my paycheck direct deposit first goes to max out all of my long-term savings goals/tax advantaged retirement accounts, then an exact amount of my discretionary monthly budget ("allowance" i give myself) is deposited in my main checking, a monthly amount for 1/12th of annual expenses such as property tax and non-discretionary monthly items such as HOA fees is deposited in a second checking account, and then any remaining balance over that is direct deposited into taxable investing and saving for future purchases such as a new car in few years. The only thing i do manually is take whatever I have left at the end of the month in my primary checking and move it to top off my emergency fund or over to a taxable investing account.

lwfitzge
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by lwfitzge » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:05 pm

My budget is pretty detailed and fully enabled with Mint.com budgeting feature.

For monthly tracking, it's revenue minus mortgage, health insurance, gasoline, internet bill, heating oil, electric, phones, TV, groceries, hair cuts, 529 education, dry cleaner, kids activities, business services, food and dining (restaurants), entertainment, clothing, and a grab bag (essentially everything not worth tracking). It don't include real estate tax, auto and umbrella insurance or home insurance as they are annual or biannual expenses

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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by z3r0c00l » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:41 pm

I like to get most items down to +/- $100 per year, and my total annual to +/- $1000. This is generally good enough. Some things I can get down to the dollar, others have to be more general. (Like food is an average of $400 a month but varies widely.) More important to me is net worth increase for the year, and that I get down to the dollar!

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SteveNet
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by SteveNet » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:54 pm

Years ago we used to have a very detailed budget, especially when it was hard to stretch a paycheck due to expenses.
That slowly evolved over the years to something like...
I would determine how much % I would like to save each yr, lets say 5%.
I would then set aside that 5% out of the paycheck either 401K or direct deposit etc etc.
If that worked for a few months I would up the % incrementally every few months till it started to hurt a little bit.
Then I would evaluate the needs vs the wants I had spent on in the last few months.
I tried to maintain a fixed % to save while making the bill payments and having nothing left over.
Eventually I got to a point where I was putting aside 40% of my paycheck IRA/Roth, and instead of having a % to save, I then mutated it into a % to spend
So the extra from year end bonuses, pay increases etc etc, went into savings.
Now we have learned how to live comfortably at that level, and I find it hard to actually spend more out of habit.
Retired @ 50, 9 yrs ago.

That's how we did it anyway.
Being frugal is hard to learn, but once learned is hard to stop.

newbeginning
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by newbeginning » Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:57 pm

I base my monthly salary (I own a business) on what my normal monthly expenditures are (Fixed, Variable and Discretionary Spending). I generally only budget items that are at least somewhat discretionary on the amount I spend such as groceries, entertainment and gas. In other words I place limits on what I can spend in any one category. I maintain a minimum $1000 balance in personal checking and rake any excess to savings at the end of the month.

Roth comes out of Personal Account.
SEP comes out of Business Account.
I distribute excess profits from business quarterly to savings.

Its not real sophisticated but it works for me.

I do balance my checkbook to the penny so no money just "appears". I use an old fashioned payment system to avoid a lot of entries for smaller items. Its called "cash".

adam1712
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by adam1712 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:00 pm

In my mind, budgeting has two goals:

1) Make sure I'm saving enough (living below my means) - I do this by having an annual savings goal and fortunately I've been able to meet or exceed it every year. As long as I do this, I don't sweat budgeting much.

2) Make sure I'm spending my money on things I want and not spending more on other things than I realize. I mainly do this retroactively. I keep reasonably detailed records but don't worry about trying to categorize random one-time purchases. I'm mainly trying to keep track of things I could scale back or increase in the future like food, clothing, utilities, etc. Then I periodically review and might make a conscious effort to try to change my spending habits on something for a few months and then review again.

Bill M
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Bill M » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:45 pm

I don't budget; I track our spending. I think there is a difference -- in our case none of the output of this tracking feeds back into decisions on spending in the future.

I use the downloadable transaction records on our checking account, and make everything go through our checking account. For every check/withdrawal, it is either (1) spending, (2) saving, or (3) shuffling (i.e. some money just being transferred from one account to another). While excel updates all these figures monthly, I seldom look. But I do look closely at the annual figures, and have a 10-year history of them. We call this our "needs" and assume all of our current spending will continue in retirement; an additional 60% of this figure is our "wants". They are two of the key inputs to retirement projections.

Jeff7
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Jeff7 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:30 pm

Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.


Brian
Monetarily efficient. ;)


I got Quicken back when I was first out on my own, and discovered that there wasn't a whole lot I could do to reduce expenses - I was already just naturally watching costs. The next thing to do at the time would have been to (shudder) get a roommate, or else start eating less, and turn the heat down to 50°F in the winter. :?
So I didn't do a whole heck of a lot there.

I've got Quicken again now, now that I've got some decent income, to see where the money's going. That's mainly to see how much I can comfortably push into my (expensive) 401k. Otherwise, I mostly just don't buy what I don't need. That's about as simple as it needs to be.
(Again, Quicken didn't really help establish a specific budget; it was more of a diagnostics tool, and what it showed was that things were already pretty reasonable.)

jollystomper
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by jollystomper » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:52 pm

We started with a detailed budget via Quicken, but as our spending because disciplined and we increased our savings rate we have reduced what we formally budget for. We track all categories but primarily budget for groceries, medical, transportation, home maintenance, entertainment, and our "mad money" accounts.

So many categories that used to variable that had to be managed are much more fixed, so that we know in advance what the cost is and just need to adjust on a yearly basis or at contract renewal time. For example, things like our land line/cell phone plan, cable/internet, and energy (we use the 12 month average plan from our energy provider to avoid surprises). So our primary budget areas are where there has been a wide variance, to ensure we set aside enough on a regular basis to handle when the expenses hit. Having over 15 years of data in Quicken definitely helps.

WHL
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by WHL » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:57 pm

No budget. Never have, never will.

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BHCadet
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by BHCadet » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:42 am

We don’t have a budget either.
However, we do track our expenses through Quicken by downloading our credit cards and Credit Union transactions to reconcile them.

Default User BR
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Default User BR » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:46 am

Saving$ wrote:
Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.
+1 without the brother comments as I don't have one of those.
I have some extras.


Brian

Default User BR
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Default User BR » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:49 am

BHCadet wrote:We don’t have a budget either.
However, we do track our expenses through Quicken by downloading our credit cards and Credit Union transactions to reconcile them.
I don't track either, as I don't particularly care. It's not data I would find useful, so I don't collect it.


Brian

scrabbler1
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by scrabbler1 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:55 am

To me (and to others here), the term "budget" implies some sort of cost or spending control. Many of us, including me, simply monitor our spending and calculate summarized totals at certain points of the year such as year-end.

I also, however, plan out my cash inflows and expenses at the start of the year. I do this because, as an early retiree, I get "paid" every month from mutual fund dividends but some of my expenses are not monthly and therefore, much larger. I have to make sure that I carry surpluses from the lower expense months into those months which have higher expenses. For example, April is my biggest expense month because I have several quarterly, semi-annual, and annual expenses which come due. So I have to make sure I carry surpluses from February and March into April and not invest them elsewhere when I know I will need them very soon (and to aintain minimum bank balances). When I was working and got paid every 2 weeks, I never had to plan this out more than 4 weeks (2 paychecks) ahead.

At the end of the year, I subdivide some of my expenses into multiple categories, mainly my co-op maintenance charges which include property taxes, mortgage interest, parking fees, and everything else. When I had my own mortgage, I split those payments into principal and interest. And I reallocated some of my cash expenses into other categories such as for commutation expenses (again, when I was working).

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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by shipwreck » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:49 pm

I have a spreadsheet where I list everything in the budget. For example,
I have a sheet with the last 13 months I spent on gas and another with the last 25 electric bills.
I then average them and that is what I put in the monthly budget.

Pretty detailed but I have been doing this for years. It works for me.

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pennstater2005
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by pennstater2005 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:56 pm

No budget. Heck, I don't even balance a checkbook anymore.
“If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.” – Earl Wilson

mlipps
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by mlipps » Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:33 pm

Unlike lots of Bogleheads, I'm definitely not naturally a saver, and being young, I find it extra important to balance savings with spending. So, I have lots of categories. But, the most useful thing for me is that they sum up and I can see the net of my earnings (used to vary when I was working hourly but paid 2x monthly, but now not as much) and my spending, to make sure that even if we're $50 over in one category but $25 over in two others, we've spent less than we earned that month and/or are on track for any savings goals we might have. I think this detail is more important than any of the specific categories for me, but if I notice we're spending a bit more than planned a couple months in a row, it's nice to be able to quickly see where.

FionaS
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by FionaS » Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:38 pm

We currently have a budget that tracks every penny we have (YNAB), but our income is currently pretty low and student loan payments are pretty high, so we like to track everything pretty closely so that we can stay on top of our expenses and save some money at the same time.

We have quite a few budget categories, but most of it is pretty general (a category for each loan, food, gas, car repairs, insurance, etc). Every couple months or so, we go pretty in depth in a particular category if we feel like we need to cut spending. For example, we are currently tracking our food expenditures by the type of food (meat, dairy, sweets, etc) as we felt we were spending way too much on food and we wanted to see where our weaknesses were (it looks to be candy, snacks and sweet stuff, so far, so now we know what to be more aware of when we're at the store).

(I'm 22, he's 24)

melohal
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by melohal » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:17 pm

My spending budget is not really to curtail total spending (I do that naturally) but to fine-tune it.

No rollover to next month
- Monthly/Fixed
- Monthly/Variable

Rollover to next month
- Periodic necessities (everyday/work clothing, medical, household..)
- Discretionary (broad categories, except I track coffee, alcohol, and restaurants individually)

Incentives
- This is where I put costs that I want to keep down, and things that I want to indulge in. Every dollar that is not spent on a bad thing can be put towards a good thing.

The Wizard
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by The Wizard » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:29 pm

Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.


Brian
Same here, basically.
Back the past 10 years or so before I retired, the main "budgeting" I did was setting the % of income to tax-shelter each year.
Do I continue with 14% to my supplemental retirement fund or do I up it to 15% or 16% for next year? That was it...
Attempted new signature...

Saving$
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Saving$ » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:04 pm

Default User BR wrote:
Saving$ wrote:
Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.
+1 without the brother comments as I don't have one of those.
I have some extras.


Brian
Be very grateful.

Rodc
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Rodc » Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:59 am

Saving$ wrote:
Default User BR wrote:
Saving$ wrote:
Default User BR wrote:I don't budget at all. My expenditures are way below my income and I'm naturally . . . thrifty (my brother says cheap). The only thing I have done at all is mock up an average monthly spending model for the purposes of determining the size of an emergency fund.

So I spend what I spend, and save the remainder.
+1 without the brother comments as I don't have one of those.
I have some extras.


Brian
Be very grateful.
We do something similar, but we automate all savings so each month we hit those goals on the first day of the month.

Our income is the same month to month through out the year. The majority of our bills are the same or close to the same each month. Only items that are not pretty steady are things like car repair and vacations, but you plan for vacations and have a cash account for car repairs (home repairs) that go beyond things you can cover with cash flow. So no real need for any detailed budget. Often at the end of the month after automated savings and spending we have some money left over and that goes into our general liquid savings account. From there it may get used for emergencies, vacations, car or home repair, or it may end up being spent for kids college or even retirement, or even eventually an inheritance. Who knows.

So for us the last line is reversed: we save what we save, and we spend the rest (and since we don't go out of our way to spend it all, any extra goes to further savings).
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Sbashore
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Sbashore » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:41 am

I'm retired so have a spending model in an excel spreadsheet. I calculate portfolio spending after using all my other sources of income for disbursements. I track my spending by the month and have a target maximum per month. If I spend less one month, I can spend more next month. It's cumulative for the year. I haven't hit the maximum for a year yet, but it helps to know that I am on target.
Steve | Semper Fi

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Clearly_Irrational
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:56 pm

I used to use a strict budget but no longer. Nowadays I just track spending and make sure to review it regularly to make sure I'm happy with the percentages. Mint makes all of this very easy.

Every six months to a year I do a full review of all expenses to see if there is any way we could save money. (negotiating a better rate, switching vendors, refinancing, cutting waste, etc.)

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6miths
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by 6miths » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:07 pm

pennstater2005 wrote:No budget. Heck, I don't even balance a checkbook anymore.
Anymore? :D
'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so!' Mark Twain

Bharat
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Bharat » Mon Apr 08, 2013 6:06 pm

1) 401K & Taxable invest
2) Rent & Utilities
3) Groceries
4) Entertainment
5) Sports, outdoors, travel and hobbies
Everything that you own, owns piece of you.

Ella
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Ella » Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:20 pm

Timely topic for me, as I have been tweaking my spending plan a lot lately and wondering if it's just too detailed.

I begain tracking every penny about 9 years ago, when my spending was exceeding my income and I needed to get a handle on where my money was going. Having a detailed written plan for each month was crucial to getting conscious about my spending, learning to live below my means, getting out of debt and building savings. It is still very helpful now, to keep my billpaying and savings goals on track. My expenses can vary a lot from month to month, and unless I can project out a month or two in advance, I get afraid to invest my extra money. Having a written plan gives me the freedom to invest more.

That said, the insane level of detail (every unique or random purchase gets its own line in my variable expenses category) is a hindrance at this point in my life. it makes it harder to see where my variable spending is actually going to. Plus it's exhausting.

I think I'll keep the big categories (giving/helping others/investing/fixed expenses/periodic expenses/variable expenses) but try to mash the variable expenses into 8-10 subcategories instead of my current 30+(!).

It's funny how habits that really helped at one point in one's life can become a stumbling block later.

Ella

Juniormint
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Juniormint » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:51 pm

I'm a saver first and automate as much of this as I can.

403(b)/Defined Benefit Plan
Roth IRA
Regular Savings
Rent & Utilities
Groceries
Variable necessary expenses (i.e. gas)
Entertainment
Remainder of any monies I can do whatever with.

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Clark Griswold
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Clark Griswold » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:58 am

I set up our budget and would download our bank activity after the end of a month to see how we did for that month and how we needed to adjust for the next month. However, that method was more of a cost tracking and comparison to the goal. I am currently downloading our bank activity weekly or every few days to try to be more proactive in keeping the budget. The wife and I have a joint account for all necessary expenditures and personal accounts for personal discretionary spending. Here's what I have set up:

Code: Select all

Monthly Budget		
		
Net Income
	$XXXX     His Net Income
	$XXXX	Her Net Income
	($XXX)	to His Personal
	($XXX)    to Her Personal
 ---------------------------
	$XXXX	Total Net Income
		
Expenses
	($XXX)	Rent
	($XXX)	Utilities
	($XXX)	Cable/Internet
	($XXX)	Cell Phone
	($XXX)	Car Payment
	($XXX)	Student Loan
	($XXX)	Daycare
	($XXX)	Savings
	($XXX)	Roth IRA's 
	($XXX)	529 Account
	($XXX)	Groceries
	($XXX)	Cars/Fuel
	($XXX)	Eating Out
	($XXX)	Entertainment 
	($XXX)	Shopping
	($XXX)	Miscellaneous
 ------------------------
	($XXXX)	Total Expenses

----------		
	$XXX	Total Monthly Net
----------
This is take home pay, so 401K and health/life insurance aren't included since they have already been accounted for. It doesn't show the line I have on my spreadsheet, but fixed expenses are closer to the top with variable expenses closer to the bottom of the expense section. If the Total Monthly Net is high, I generally put more into savings.

Confused
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Confused » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:39 am

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Last edited by Confused on Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

Grasshopper
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Grasshopper » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:47 pm

BHCadet wrote:We don’t have a budget either.
However, we do track our expenses through Quicken by downloading our credit cards and Credit Union transactions to reconcile them.
Me to a T, we have never had a budget but, I keep very detailed expense reports down to each individual dog (4) in the family, even the wild birds I feed. If I ever needed to cut the fat I could tell you in a NY minute how much could be cut.

Calm Man
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Calm Man » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:34 pm

I track nothing. I never have. For the first 3 or 4 years of my working life, I had negative net worth because of student loans. At no time did I ever not buy something that I wanted or needed and at no time did I ever buy something that I did not want or need. I suppose it is easier that my wants are not particularly great, especially now without a "she" who has wants.

Twins Fan
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Re: What level of detail do you budget to?

Post by Twins Fan » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:05 pm

Calm Man wrote: I suppose it is easier that my wants are not particularly great, especially now without a "she" who has wants.
Haha... someone beat me to it. My level of budgeting.... STAY SINGLE!! :D

Really though, I am one of the non-budgeters. I pay my regular expenses, have gone over all those to see if they could be reduced, keep food in the fridge, gas in the car, and save the rest or buy myself a little something. The only monthly reductions I could really make are to the cable and cell phone bills. But, I'm okay with where those are at. And, how did we ever live without them?! :D

I'm a pretty simple guy, so it's easy for me to save without having to worry about a "budget".

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