I’ve always been very frugal with my money. In fact, in high school, I often was the one working and putting money away for a rainy day while my friends were eating out and having fun. But, although I was frugal and always knew roughly what I had in my account, I didn’t really have a budget. I just didn’t spend any of it in hs and spent as little as possible in college.

When we first got married, John and I put together a budget. I may or may not have been a little resistant. I don’t even recall why. I guess I didn’t want some intangible object (the computer) telling me that I had spent too much in any given category but I did it anyway because John made me. (Not really….) Nonetheless, after a few months of living with a budget—I was stunned out how liberating it was. I didn’t have to feel guilty for eating out because it was in the budget. I didn’t have to worry about feeling guilty for an end of the semester retreat because we had been saving money all semester for it and it was in the budget. I loved it. I still relish in the fact that I feel like we are controlling our money instead of vice versa. If you don’t have a budget-you should try it for 3 months and see if it makes a difference. It’s not just about making you sure you have enough but if you have allotted money for something and you don’t use it-you can put it in your snowball to throw towards your debt. Budgeting forces you to analyze what is a need and a want in your expenditures.

Here is a guide to family finances. This is from www.providentliving.org . There is a lot of good information in this pamphlet. Page 7 shows an example of a budget worksheet. The important part of this or any other budget worksheet is that it shows both expected and actual expense and you then tally up the difference.

We use an excel sheet that John devised that has a listing of all expected and actual expenses. However, not everyone is Excel savvy (including myself). There are a lot of websites that will do this for you. www.mint.com was highly recommended by a friend of mine…I think that it will draw up a graph for you showing how much you’ve spent in relation to how far in the month you are. I’ve seen references to it on other blogs. Another friend of mine uses this website: Whatever budget method you use, it will make a huge difference in tracking where your money is going.

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