When I was in middle school, my dad taught me how to make a budget. And he set up a checking account for me (joint, with my parents). For the $40 we received monthly-- the amount we were given to purchase clothes and toiletries-- we were taught to tithe, save, and spend.

As middle schoolers, my sister and I groaned at the idea of having a checkbook and a budget. Who even knew what a budget was? It's not like it was cool to have a checkbook in middle school, either.

Now I am thankful that I was raised with those money-management tools. Who knew then how much I'd need to know how to make and stick to a budget? Yikes!

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because within our budget there are only a few areas that aren't fixed amounts (bills). I'm trying to figure out how we can cut down our flexible amounts (groceries is the big one) so that we can save more money from month to month.

I'll dive more into the grocery topic later this week but for now, I'd love to hear how many of you have a budget. Or what system you have in place to keep track of your finances.

photo courtesty of iStockphoto


  1. I work with in a budget also. Not something I was taught as a adolescent. It's been a tuff road - but worth it. Groceries are the one place I really don't have a budget. I tend to average the same amount each week. If I cook we don't eat out - that's saving money right there. ;)

  2. I'll be waiting to hear about this one. I've been thinking a lot about our budget too lately. Too bad we're not all bazillionaires.

  3. I bought poster board and made myself a huge chart. I just love to see the plan in action and the progress being made. We are working on getting out of credit card debt. Only $2500 more to go!! Plus we REALLY want to adopt again. Only God can show us where that money is coming from as there is no family members who can help us. Anyways, the budget - Kevin gets paid twice a month. 1st pay $100 goes into savings, 2nd pay $100 goes to the credit card. No ifs and or buts. We are a family of 3 and our grocery bill every week is $60(thats not just food, but toilettries and cat food, litter, house things) We acheive that by using coupons, shopping at Aldi's once a month to stock up on dry and canned goods. We also are not stuck on brands, it would be impossible to have a low grocery bill if I HAD to have Crest indead of Colgate or whatever. Whatever the coupon is for, is what we get, case closed. We make exceptions for Ketchup though, that has to be Heinz :)
    I also have our gas bill on an equalized payment plan - sometimes called a budget plan so I know exactly how much that is a month.
    Can't wait to read others ideas on budgets. I can always use good tips!

  4. What a blessing to be taught that. I wasn't and never saved. I was terrible w/money. Thankfully, I married a saver and someone that is wise w/spending and not materialistic.

    We don't have a budget written out, but we keep the same expenses at about the same each month.

    I look forward to reading more about this.

  5. We did use paper, but I switched us to a free download program from PearBudget

    It's based in Excel, is easy to use (following the directions) and I love that it has set up areas (paid once a month) and flexible areas (like groceries) PLUS it does all the calculations for you - giving you an overall look at how you're doing financially and where your money is going.

    My husband and I try to talk about our budget/checkbook balance once a week. We record everything - debit card, credit card, cash. We do have a credit card (paid off each month) and I record these expenses in the checkbook like they were taken out then. When we do pay the credit card I enter the same amount in debit and credit columns and put checkmarks by all of the previously recorded credit card expenses.

    I originally found out about PearBudget from a (www.stretcher.com) Dollar Stretcher article or reader's tips but couldn't find it doing a quick search. They have lots of info on budgeting and have paired up with Dave Ramsey (great great budgeting/financial guy).


  6. I have always been so proud of your parents for doing that. You were miles ahead of me in college and when first married because of this (I believe) training that you received!
    I fully intend to do the same thing with my kids when they reach the right age.
    Looking forward to more info on this, amy

  7. I did not learn to budget as a child or young adult either but thankfully my husband did and he is SO good at keeping us on track and helping me to spend carefully.

    We use the "envelope system". For us, this means that after devising a budget plan for the amount of money available to us after bills are paid, we withdraw that amount from the bank. Then, this money is divided up and placed into an envelope designated for a specific spending/saving purpose; gifts, clothing, household repairs, christmas gifts, short-term fun(renting a movie or buying a treat), long-term fun(vacations?) etc. This helps us to only spend when we have the cash on hand to do so.
    Also, I work really hard at keeping our grocery budget low. I try not to by much processed food (store cookies, mixes or the like) because I can usually make it at home cheaper. I am always trying to do a better job of buying groceries in a way that is kind to our budget. We have three kids 4 and under and they definitely eat more than my husband and I so I am always hunting up new ways to save in the grocery department.

    I think one of the greatest things my husband does to keep us on track is that he helps us to stay on top of any debt we may have by paying it down with any extra money we may receive (tax return money!) and by refusing to purchase anything on credit or until we have the cash in our hands to pay for it... except our house.

    Rebecca M.

  8. Check out christianbook.com for Larry Burkett's informational and helpful series on christian financing. My husband and I have been using it for years and it works good for us...it combines the envelope and budgeting system with the tried and true 'wealthy barber' concept of paying of your debt in a methodical compounding way. We currently have alot of debt due to having to put my husband through school late in life but we have a 4 year plan to be free of that. With four kids its tough but do-able!

  9. We combine a few things. We do cash only for the groceries. When my dh gets paid he comes home with it and gives it to me. That's what I have for two weeks.

    We have many accounts at our bank; a savings, and a few specific checking accounts. One of the checking acct. is for bills only....every pay check my dh puts the $ needed in the acct. for bills and all checks come off that account as well as direct payments like car insurance, rent, utilities, phone, tithe etc. We have a completely seperate account for debit purchases and daily life. There is never a problem with over drawing the bill account. This has served us well. We tried the full envelope system but never had the right envelope at the right time and borrowed back and forth...it really didn't work for us. The different accounts is similar to the envelopes but they are accounts at the bank....and it's all free too.
    So when the debit is empty we know...no more trips to get coffee or a movie night. But there will still be grocery money and the bills are paid.

  10. Stacy, We use Quicken to leep track of everything, and it has lots of tools for budgeting. It's a continuing process for us (11 years into our marriage!) as we both think about money and track it mentally so differently. But it's a useful tool. I find our grocery bill appalling... and yet I don't find us eating crazy expensive things. I'll be interested to read what other folks have to say.


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from you, and I will do
my best to reply back to you in the comment section.