Sunday, December 27, 2009

How do I budget?

So this is a little off-topic since the title of the blog is Cooking While Commuting, but really they do go hand in hand. How can you serve seafood and prime rib meals when you only have enough money for Top Ramen for groceries? A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.


In a nutshell, I use a problem called YNAB, which stands for You Need a Budget, and can be found at The program is different from Mint, Quicken, and Microsoft Money in that it budgets December's income to be used in January. This way, there is always enough cushion in the account so that you don't need today's paycheck to pay for tomorrow's groceries.


For groceries, I have a set amount I budget for my weekly shopping trip on Sundays. That amount is multiplied by 52 weeks, and then divided by 12 months. I have 1/3 budgeted but unspent each month, which rolls until there is a month with 5 Sundays, at which point it is spent.

I have been using YNAB for about 1 ½ years. Prior to YNAB I had been on Microsoft Money for ages, and before that was Quicken. I always used both of those programs for my check registers, but couldn't ever budget, it was just too difficult to figure out.


With 2010 creeping in, I will begin using YNAB more frequently. The task of having to enter each transaction and remember each purchase (big or small) is a gentle reminder to not go crazy with frivolous purchases. We don't have debt other than our house, car loan, and student loan. But we still make frivolous purchases that could be avoided. The money spent on those things could in turn go towards more fun stuff, like weekend activities and fun day trips. Or the Seafood and Prime Rib Budget J

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