I'm not a big one for New Year's Resolutions. I make resolutions constantly. New College Semester Resolutions. New Exercise Routine Resolutions. New socks resolution. It doesn't really take much. And, I rarely stick to them.
This year, on New Year's Eve, I visited the library and got some books on budgeting. I hoped one of them would hold the secret that I am searching for. It's not the secret of how to plan a budget. That, I get. It's how to stick to the budget.
I've asked this question probably three times in the past week and my husband answers me the same way, as if I haven't heard or comprehended what he is explaining to me.
"You look at what you spent the past year and you include those expenses into your budget."
Yeah, I can plan a budget like nobody's business. Give me the state budget and let me slash it. Give me the federal budget. I'll balance it on paper in half a day. It's the actual implementation that trips me up.
Lest you think I'm in this alone, I should point out that although I plan the budget and pay the bills each month, my husband balances the checkbook. Again, on paper, we should both know about all the money coming in and going out.
We keep our expenses on Quicken, so when I click on "Plan Budget" then name it Budget 2011: Wham. The suggested budget plan appears. It suggests things like $200 per month on eating out and $154 a month on travel. Well, obviously, we can cut those down.
It also includes clever things like "Business Expense $48" and "Business Expenses $54." Apparently, I have two categories that I need to add together.
Going through and weeding out expenses like "Gifts" versus "Gifts Given" is no problem. As a matter of fact, once whittling down the categories and some of the miscellaneous expenses, I end up with more money than I had planned to save.
That's on paper though.
Here's the tricky part. I pay car insurance every six months. So my budget suggests I save $89 per month for car insurance. How do I save that though? Do I have a separate savings account for each bi-yearly bill? At the end of each month I should be saving for life and car insurance, along with the water bill and recreation expenses, like swim team and basketball shoes. Quicken averaged out my monthly utilities, but right now I'm in the expensive season for gas and electrics. You can see how it all starts to get muddled together.
I did figure out a few things about budgeting though.
Budgeting is easier right after a gift-giving event, like Christmas or a birthday, because I am restocked on all of my expensive creams and lotions. My budget should definitely stick until I need to buy more.
A budget should also be easier to stick to if I underestimate my income, so every month or twice a month when those pay checks come in, I have a little bonus (to spend on those Aveda creams and lotions when they run out).
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