Thursday, March 29, 2012

Do you have a household budget?

Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that I have written personal finances stories in various guises for the past five years (and more), I have a real problem with the word 'budget'. And so I avoid the whole notion. I pay the bills, make sure there's about the right amount of money in the bank, and juggle coins when necessary to make sure it all works out.

Every once in a while, The Builder and I decided that we must 'see where our money is going'. So we sit down with a pile of bills, plug all the numbers into one online budget tool or another and then wait for the jackpot results.

If the numbers vaguely add up, which they normally do because we are both from the same school of Tightwads Conservative Spenders, we nod and wander away, swearing (well, I do) that we will drink less takeaway coffee. Until the next time.

I saw the Treasurer on the news tonight, talking tough about the Tough Budget that the Government is about to hand down. In Europe, it's all about Austerity Measures - which sounds like the name of a pop group, but isn't near as much fun. But when I casually question my friends about the dreaded B word, most of them say 'yes, aren't things getting expensive, we're getting around to doing one of those, mostly we just wing it'.

Probably a good thing none of us are in charge of the nation's purse strings.

So now I'm wondering - do you have a household budget?When you make cuts, what's the first thing to go?

[image: I'm sure I would be much better at saving if I had one of these coin purses from octopurse/etsy]

By the way, if you vote for LIAPF in the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers comp, you'll go in the draw to win an extra $5000 for your household budget. That's a lot of coin purses... 



  1. I hate numbers with a passion so we have finance guys. They are brilliant. We run every major financial decision by them and every six months they run a new household cash-flow for us. Can't believe I have outsourced my finances but still don't have a cleaner ...

  2. We're the same. Have had several 'we must budget!' sessions over the years and it never works out. I don't know what I'd do if my husband and I weren't on the same money wavelength, though (budget, maybe?!). I had a friend once whose husband would spend scary amounts of money without consulting her and without thinking the money might be needed elsewhere. Yikes.

  3. Hmmm, this is an interesting (and very complex) question. I am actually the chief financial controller in our household, so I probably should feel the pressure a lot more than I do. For me, much of it is about juggling and winging it and putting certain things off or on hold until we have a better savings pool. We're not extravagant by any stretch, though I also don't believe in not having some fun and the occasional new treats... whether that be clothing or toys or experiences, ie. dinners, drinks, concerts. At the end of the day, paying the bills, mortgage and filling the cupboards with food are paramount for us, anything leftover is just the cream for savings... and there isn't much cream in reality.

  4. I'm on borrowed time.
    We're down to single income again in a couple of months and I'm going to have to face the budget music when that time comes.
    :-) x

  5. We live and die by our budget sadly. Everyone and then there are a few months we can relax a little but mostly I spend every day watching and tracking every cent spent. Ain't much fun but better than falling into credit card debt clutches (been there before and did not like!)

  6. We have a budget. We don't review it constantly or set absolute limits on stuff - we are also graduates of the Tightwad School and so are much more likely to be under than over budget.

    Budgets for certain things are strictly adhered to, though. Our renovation. Holidays. Parties.

  7. Although I hate maths I do love making budgets & sticking to them. When we use our Credit Card its paid of within the 55 free interest days so no interest for us. Any money we have left over when hubby gets paid again gets put aside for a little holiday or a treat like that.

    We also have around $130 a fortnight going into a high interest account to pay for the rego on the car, the racq membership when it comes up & service on the car every year (like tyres or a major service or small things like batteries etc).

    For example the rego for our v6 Holden Commodore is $810.30 so we say $900 to cover ourselves if it goes up we then do it this way

    $900 divide into 52 weeks is about $17.30 a week so we put like $18.00 per week away (or in our case $32 per fortnight).

    (((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

    1. In my head, that's exactly how I do it too! I'm going to take a leaf out of your book though - the idea of making interest on the money I put aside for bills is very tempting!

  8. I used to have the kind of budget where I knew exactly what every penny was doing, I had money set aside for the electricity bill, the gas bill, the phone bill...if the bill was less than expected, the leftover cash went into the christmas fund etc etc.
    Now that I have much less income, but no dependent kids, I'm still careful and still know where the money goes, still make sure there's enough in the bank for the bills, but I no longer crunch every penny. I no longer have notebooks filled with columns of numbers.

  9. Oh takeaway coffees. I did some maths last week and figured out that we're spending thousands on coffee each year. We then discussed buying a coffee machine and grinder. It hasn't been mentioned since. I'm the main breadwinner of the family at the moment but because I work freelance my pay isn't always regular. Subsequently, some fortnights are really tight and budgeting is an absolute necessity.

    I just noticed that you have written a book about credit cards - I'm currently working on an article about money and weddings. Interested in being interviewed? If so, email me at jodiclairewilson @ yahoo (dot) com (dot) au x

  10. "Budget" is a swear word in my house at the moment. No idea where I went wrong, but I went wrong a couple of months ago and we haven't recovered since. It doesn't help that I'm the only one who does try to stick to a budget in the house!

  11. I'm in charge of our finances. But thats ok, I'm a qualified accountant ;) we have a budget that we stick to and although we are asset rIch, we have hardly any cash flow. Always a bugger really. I'm not buying anything new this year and have found we don't really save money, because we hardly had money to spend anyhow! Love how you do it. If it works for you, then you can wing it!!

  12. No budget here...managing on one and a tiny bit of income...we're both pretty careful though
    And we're like Jodi - I think we blow most of our extra on coffee...but I don't want a coffee machine cos I love going out for it

  13. hmm budget! The subject comes up every now and then and we both go "let's go out to dinner and talk about it." Or on the way home the day before pay day, "Hey I've got $10 in my purse/wallet, let's get a bottle of wine."

  14. Nope, don't have a budget, never have. Neither of us are big spenders so it's never been necessary.

  15. Visiting from Felicity's POTMC and your header caught my eye. Love it. Very creative! I guess we live within our means so we don't really follow any kind of budget, but love the humor in your post. I think most families struggle with budget business. Margie

  16. I have a budget... it works by ensuring that neither of us have access to excess money! Unfortunately, with a single income (and a business that currently operates as a "very expensive, time consuming hobby), that doesn't mean we're living within means. I watch those savings drop month by month and wonder which will come first... the business running at a profit or me looking for a new job!

  17. Not on a penny specific budget...but when costs get high , or a have to save for some large expenditure , it's thumbs down on prepackaged/processed food (?). I go back into my 'homemade' phase for all sorts of things around the house. Of course this is only temporary until the goal has been reached . Hard to maintain all the work required.


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