Making The Budget WORK At Month’s End

Jenn and I budget every single month.  We spend all of the money we expect to receive in the upcoming month in the Monthly Budget Form (Excel) and AGREE on how that money will be spent.

THAT is the easy part.  The hard part is following the plan for the entire month – especially at the end of the month.

It is easy to follow the budget at the start of the month because I have spending money, we have grocery money, we have dining out money, and we have entertainment money.

But as we arrive at the end of the third week and the start of the fourth week, it is not so glorious of a picture.  You can bet that I have spent every dime of my spending money.  The dining out fund is at or near zero.  The grocery envelope is tapped out, and the entertainment envelope has kicked the bucket as well.

That is our story nearly every single month of the 62 consecutive months that we have planned our spending.  Yet we stick with the budget, and it is where I see a ton of people fall off of the wagon.

How do we ensure that we stick to our plan?  We hold each other accountable.  We KNOW that if we spend more than we planned on these fun categories, then that extra money will be taken from another fund like vacation, Christmas, car repairs, retirement savings, or college savings.  We simply refuse to mortgage our future just so we can have a little extra fun today.

That is HOW we stick to our plan and that is WHY we stick to our plan.

I would love to hear from others on HOW you ensure that you stick to your plan and WHY.  Start the conversation in the comments below!

10 Responses to “Making The Budget WORK At Month’s End”

  1. Moneymonk August 28, 2008 at 12:36 pm #

    I think before a budget begins. Both should be focus. Both of you should be on the same page. If not, a budget or anything else will not work.

    You both have to agree on what is priority and what is not.

    Figure out the difference between needs and so called needs

  2. Todd Helmkamp August 28, 2008 at 12:45 pm #

    I agree with the accountability thing. And usually, when I’m tempted to blow money, my wife isn’t, or vice-versa, so we have a sort of check-and-balance system.

  3. Dan August 28, 2008 at 8:57 pm #

    We usually over budget on gas and groceries so it gives us a little wiggle room so that we don’t over spend for the month. That $30 gives us a little freedom address buying those razors we need or that night we spring for pizza b/c we don’t want to cook.

    We’ll be debt free this January using your budgeting tools. Some 25,000 in 15 months (with tons of visits from Murphy). Thanks!

  4. Greg Anderson August 29, 2008 at 5:17 am #

    My wife and I find that by weighing the oppurtunity cost of a purchase with the cash envelopes makes the end of the month less of a squeeze. For instance, since we have a set dining out limit for the month and we decide to grab lunch after church on Sunday, well then that would prevent us from eating out on date night so we decide to plan for a movie date (without popcorn and drinks) instead which comes out of the entertainment envelope. We also enable ourselves to last through to the end of the month by only taking out a set amount for each envelope weekly. This keeps the spender (Me) from going, “Ooh, Jack in the Box, lets pullover!” and regreting it later when I can’t take my wife to Sushi.

  5. TurtleLover August 29, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    I could SO relate to your post! I have my very own “Joe Sangle” who is my accountability buddy. So… not only do I not want to disappoint myself, but this person as well. Even though my checkbook may say I have money in the bank (for something else of course) when I run low on food… as far as I’m concerned I have NO money. With the food prices going up so much this month was very hard. I did go over, yet I had worked some O/T so that covered it… so I felt better about it and I really don’t like to kick myself for going over in food if its within reason. Also… if I gave up… it would just get WORSE … and I REALLY don’t want it to get worse !!! So… I just aim for my goal every month and hope for the best. I look at it this way… at least I do have food… more food than I would have without a budget at all !!!

  6. Maisie August 29, 2008 at 5:49 pm #

    For our family bugget (like Greg’s post above) we have found that it works best if we take a specified amount out of the cash envelope each week. It helps us stay on track better. I do have to admit that with the increase in food prices the weekly grocery envelope is usually always empty at the end of the week, whereas before we would be able to squirrel away some money left over each week from that envelope……..As far as sticking to the budget….we sometimes blow it but for the most part we see our goals being met little by little and that is what keeps us going. No use beating yourself up if an appliance goes out and because of it your savings takes a hit for the month…….we are thankful that we have the savings to take care of it and the savings are there because of the budgeting. It’s all good.

  7. Mark Riddle September 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Both husband and wife must compose the budget and remind one another that being able to afford vacations, colleges, insurance, cars, etc. in the long-term is going to bring much more joy than the pain of the short-term sacrifices. Intelligent people understand delayed gratification.

  8. Truman Burroughs January 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Mark,

    What a great statement in “Intelligent people understand delayed gratification. I was and given the opportunity am a fly by wire guy, so delayed gratification wasn’t in my vocabulary. Thanks to an awesome wife, Joe, and a few others, my IQ is going up and with it so will our (me and the wife’s) financial freedom. The key is digging in and not given up. With each truckload of dirt moved, eventually–sooner than later we will move that mountain, called debt.

  9. Monica March 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    So I do have a budget, I pay all the bills then divy the rest into the remaining weeks for the month. Problems with that…the week we get paid, we enjoy, no budget, I feel like they, my husband and kids, deserve that. I am the one who is always saying ‘lets eat at home’, ‘do you really need that’ ect and its draining:/ so then the following monday I divide the amount in my account by the number or weeks, ususally 3, then I pull that amount out cash and we use it as petty cash. Problems with that…when the cash is running low we swipe, then when we get to the last week, well there is usually not alot of money to pull out since we have been picking on it all month. After reading your posts this is something I will change, I will pull all the cash out and that way the only option is to open ‘next weeks envelope’…thanks for your comments guys

  10. Sara Taylor September 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    Budgeting is always the easy part it’s being diligent in sticking with it. It takes as much will power as staying on a diet does for me! I love to spend and sadly I use it to get a feel good high. Why I don’t really know, but it has got to stop. This is my first step and hopefully I will be able to stick with it.

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