It’s here…the Frugal Mermaid budget sheet!
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Here’s how I budget differently:
I like it neat. For some reason, I really like to have approximately the same spending every single month. It feels nice and clean to me.
But that’s not how life works, right? Christmas and new tires for my car don’t come up every single month. So for those rare expenses, I put a certain amount into a “savings bucket” every month. I call them my “savings for future expenses” accounts, and they include things like my 6-month lump car insurance payment, taxes, travel, extra fun money for when we have guests, etc.
Here’s how it works: Instead of having my budget increase in September for my husband’s birthday, I put a small amount every month into my “gifts” savings account. Then, when his birthday does roll around, I pull from that account without letting it affect my budget. Because I already accounted for it every month I put the money in! So, basically, I’m just spreading the cost out for the whole year.
Why doesn’t it affect my budget? Because I already accounted for that gift money when it originally went into the account! So, basically, I’m just spreading the cost out for the whole year.
To put it simply, I’m just spreading out the cost of these “future expenses” over a few months, a year, or more.
I don’t budget every single dollar. My husband and I like freedom when we shop. If I used Dave Ramsey’s envelope system (a great system, just not for us), I would have to move money from one “envelope” to another if I wanted to buy something extra or over my budget for that category. Psychologically, that makes me feel like I don’t have money, which bothers me. While I may spend like a poor college student, I don’t want to force myself back into that mentality.
Psychologically, that makes me feel like I’m living paycheck to paycheck, which bothers me. While I may spend like a poor college student, I don’t want to force myself back into that mentality.
My budget is a guideline. Because my husband and I are both natural savers and rarely have weak moments of impulse spending, we trust ourselves not to overdo it. So sometimes we go over budget. But that’s OK, because we are still saving more than 50% of our income. By treating our budget as a guideline, we keep ourselves in check, without taking away our freedom or giving us undue stress about money.
Does this budgeting method sound interesting to you? Click the link below for a FREE printable budget sheet!
And come back every month to see how we did with our own budget! Keep scrolling to see our budget for July.
July was not a crazy month like June, and yet we went over budget by more than $300!!! Click the link below to see the details!
Here’s a quick breakdown:
-I guess there’s one benefit to being unemployed…I only filled the gas tank once last month! Gas came in $64 under budget!
-I have no idea what happened with our groceries. Even though we ate out more than usual, our grocery bill came in over $100 over our budget! I made an effort to plan “cheap” meals this month to see how close to $200 I could get. But somehow that resulted in spending considerably more than last month? I don’t know, it’s a mystery to me, but the numbers don’t lie! Guess I’ll go back to not caring about the cost of each meal and then I’ll spend less? 😉
-Frugal Merman got talked into getting Amazon Prime with a friend (no comment 🙂 ). I’m hating the extra $50 we spent, but I’m sure I’ll be loving it when I can use that Prime 2-day free shipping!
-Clothing and home supplies continue to be a problem, which is strange for us. We are not people who buy clothes or home items lightly, so we only shop when we NEED something. I guess coming back to America has made us NEED a lot of replacement clothes and home goods. Starting in August, I’m switching these to “savings for future expenses” accounts so we can save a certain amount for these in a year, and not have it affect our monthly budget the 3 or 4 times a year we will actually use the money. We’ll see how that goes!
-I am going to keep our fast food/restaurant budgets the same. Even though we spent double the budgeted amount this month, I know that we will just keep inflating our spending in this category until it reaches ridiculous amounts if I don’t give us a frugal guideline. This is our weak spot, and as much as I hate seeing the red on my budget, it stops us from getting totally irresponsible in that category.
-Dudes, our car. Vegas is slowly trying to kill our car. But after the new battery last month, and the new alternator, spark plugs, and belt this month, she’s back in commission and working fine. Let’s hope it continues that way or we will have to start putting money in the new car savings account more rapidly.
-We did have extra income to partly offset our budget overages, so I’m happy about that. My husband changed his W4 allowances so we aren’t overspending on taxes, thereby increasing his weekly paychecks. I sold some jewelry on OfferUp and cashed in my payout for Fronto, which pays me just to have the app on my phone. My husband also got a tip from a customer…he works as a salesman, so it’s definitely not the norm to get tips. But I guess the guy was really happy with his “service”? Pretty funny.
Some more things to note about account balances…you’ll notice (well, if you’re a math geek) that the increases in my car repair, gift, and house fund savings account don’t match up with the amount paid to them this month.
In the case of the car repairs and gifts, it’s because I had to use money from those accounts to pay for…you guessed it, car repairs and gifts. Because I had money in those accounts, these rare expenditures do not need to count as an “expense”, but rather just come straight out of those accounts. That’s why I “expense” a standard monthly amount to the “savings for future expenses” accounts, so these rare expenses don’t affect my budget in differing amounts every month.
This method probably seems strange, but it works for me. Pyschologically, I like to put aside a certain amount of money every month and then spend that money as I want to, without it affecting my “monthly budget”. If that seems like something that would work for you too, make sure you download my FrugalMermaidBudget template to create your own budget.
As far as the discrepancy with the house fund goes, it increased so much because I decided to leave less money in checking and move it to savings where it earns more interest.
Well that wraps up July! We’ll see if we can do even better next month!
Check out our June budget below to see our progress: