Budgeting Your Spending in 2010

I have received numerous questions about how I set my budget, stick to a budget, and just how to budget… so, here are the basics of how I budget. It is not too complicated which may make some of you excited and may be disappointing to others.

Grocery Budget

How did I set a budget? THE HUSBAND and I came up with a goal then we tried to meet it for a few months. Our number was a little ambitious, we made some adjustments and after a few months we settled in on $400/month. That is just what works for our family right now.

How do I stay on budget? This is a pretty low tech system. I have five envelopes. The beginning of each month I put $100 in 4 of the envelopes and I know I have $100 to spend that week. This includes food, toiletries, diapers, cleaning supplies, dog food, over the counter meds, etc. (Usually when the money is gone I am done spending that week. Occasionally something will come up and I need to borrow from another envelope.)
The fifth envelope is for left over money. Once in a while I will have some money left over that goes to the fifth envelope and is used to cover gaps in longer months, stockpile or whatever else I need.

Overall Household Budget

THE HUSBAND bears most of the burden for tracking the overall budget of our house.  He loves his super detailed excel spreadsheet and working through all of the numbers. I am so thankful for that- I dread tasks like that.  If you already have a budget and are looking for ways to track it you could design your own spreadsheet or use something like this  Excel Savings Tracker which you can download and use for free thanks to The Coupon Project or the free budget software here .

If you do not have a budget read on-

Setting a budget– I’ll keep it simple

Tell all of your money where to go at the beginning of each month.

1. Write down how much money you have to spend exactly how much income you will have that month.
2.Make a list of all your expenses. Your giving, bills, debts etc.
3. Pay each one of them on paper.
4. Look at the money you have left and assign that money a category. For us this includes entertainment/eating out money, money for gifts or other things we will need that month and we have an extra envelope with a little money in it in case we blow our budget or just need to splurge- a little.

That is a quick overview of how we budget. The basic idea is you spend only the money you have and you decide each month how to spend it.
If you are really wanting to get on a budget, get out of debt (which is why we started budgeting a few years ago) or just get spending under control I highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey. Believe me, when THE HUSBAND introduced this years ago I was less than enthusiastic. However, after a while on the system I can say it has been a major blessing in our life. The planning and saving has helped through some very lean times and just being on the same page with finances makes things a lot easier.

What about you- Do you budget? Are you planning to start a budget this year? Do you have any budgeting secrets we need to know? What are your financial goals?


  1. WOW $100 is a lot per week. I try and spend less then $60 for a family of 4. Plus we eat no processed foods. Only whole foods.

  2. pickwickian says:

    We eat whole foods, too, and I easily spend $100 and a bit more per week. I'm always running to the store to buy fresh this or that, and I can't tolerate beans night after night so we eat lots of veggie plates. Plus, organic milk is twice the cost of regular milk, as is most organic produce. I shop sales and follow coupon Katie religiously for ideas. I think if you are older and have a sensitive stomach and food allergies, you just end up spending that amount—whole food or not.

  3. No one has senstive tummys here. Just healthy fam. We also like to save money and do so spending less then $60 a week.

  4. pickwickian says:

    Yeah, I've just heard people for years tell me that healthy, whole foods are cheaper and I have found out that is not true. Well, it is if you eat lentils and beans every night, but if you follow health guidelines and try to incorporate fresh salmon and power foods like blueberries and organic foods it really adds up. I've been shocked at how expensive it is. A box of Kraft mac and cheese is around 75 cents. Three organic, local beets are around $3.50 and there is much less there to eat. Much tastier and healthier, but much more expensive.
    Store brand peanut butter is around $1.50 on sale, but it has the bad oils in it. The only solution is to make my own (which I've done) or buy Earthfare organic peanut butter. I think the Earthfare is cheaper than making my own.
    I'm desperate to save money, but I'm rapidly spiraling down trying to eat healthy foods aside from beans/lentils. My health is getting better with the new diet, but I'm having a terrible time affording it.
    I tried Cruze Farm milk and local eggs because I thought that would be a better, healthier choice and one gallon of milk and one dozen eggs were over ten dollars. Just the eggs and milk.
    Maybe it's the organic aspect that's giving me a hard time, but I keep hearing that all the chemicals are terrible for us. Organic bananas are much more expensive, but I read that we are losing songbirds due to chemicals on bananas.
    I'm still trying to figure all this out.

  5. If you are looking for ways to cut cost eating organic and whole foods I would check out this post
    It has a lot of resources to start gathering coupons for organic foods.

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