I really dislike math (of the algebra variety) but I love playing with simple numbers. Working with our budget, paying bills and moving money around can be extremely annoying and frustrating but I get the thrill of victory when I successfully put things in place.
I did a bit of a self-audit the other day and noticed WOW, we spend a lot of unnecessary money. I want to live life and have a good time but I also realize that we need to be financially responsible, especially in these tough economic times (it is such a cliche to say that, isn't it?). Plus, I've heard a rumor going around that it is pretty expensive to have a kid and since it seems like we will have to pay the medical community to assist us in creating a child, it is time to get serious about money.
First and foremost, I wish my job paid more. Asking for a raise isn't an option as I work in grant funded programs and money is very tight. In a perfect world, the people in my position would get paid what I think we deserve instead of being the bottom of the pay scale food chain. I try not to think about it too much because it is depressing. But Mo' Money, Mo' Problems, right? I don't trust that saying.
I go in spurts when it comes to tracking our expenses. I used to have a mint.com account but I got sick of getting constant emails sent to me and I was ashamed that we spent so much money in the Fast Food category. Easy change, obviously. Just don't go to fast food places. DUH.
I had a system earlier this year that seemed to work to curb wasteful spending. I purchased gift cards for the two grocery stores where I shop, Safeway and Walmart on the first of the month. I also got out a cash allowance for me and my husband that needed to last the two weeks between paychecks. This worked really well. The money from the account was gone so it made it look like we had less money to spend which mentally, makes you want to spend less. But we had the cash in our pockets and enough to use for whatever we needed. When our cash ran out, we were done and could no longer make those morning Starbucks runs or Taco Bell visits at lunch. It also helped to not buy needless things at the grocery store. Our grocery spending for the month of August was out of control. The week before we went on our trip, we planned out our meals and that worked so well. We have to go back to that system for sure.
Last Friday, I went to Safeway to get that monthly gift card. I went to the bank to take out our allowance and finished paying some bills. I'm also quitting Starbucks after paying $4.45 for a Grande non-fat, decaf Peppermint Mocha last week. I don't even like coffee. I was cold and thought it would make me feel better. I just need to turn up the heater in the car.
What are your budgeting tips? Do you use a website to track your spending? How do you stop yourself from allowing your spending to get out of control?