When it comes to budgeting I like to keep it simple. No complicated spreadsheets itemized by category or charts and graphs. On the rare occasion I need those kinds of bells and whistles I turn to my financial institutions and simply hit the download button. Back when checks and cash were main staples for me I was queen of using that ledger in my check book to actually keep my check book balanced. I was anal about it. To the point that you would think I would be sitting on piles of money and always very responsible with my finances. Umm not so much! I am human after all.
For my life now, given the ease of swipes, bill pay direct from my bank, and land of stored account info, I use a simple excel spreadsheet that I update each month. In it I’ve outlined my fixed expenses - groceries, mortgage, utilities, personal bills (cell, credit cards, gas for my car, car note), and kid related expenses; my savings allocation, my discretionary spending money, and if there are any one-offs they go on this list as well. This could include medical insurance deductibles stemming from a recent office visit, unforeseen traffic tickets (speed cameras are everywhere!), etc. I like knowing where my money is supposed to go even if sometimes it goes places I didn’t plan for. One too many meals out, a cute pair of shoes, a kid related request that I can’t say no too, the oil change I forgot I needed. There’s a point in here somewhere I promise. . . Oh yeah it sounds fancy but trust me it's like 10 rows with the expense, the amount due, a tally and then a remaining balance for me to roll over for the use in the next month.
I say all of this to say that during my last monthly budgeting session I took the time to really assess my finances and look for ways to be smarter with my money. I went to bed thinking about additional ways to save aside from the obvious – don’t shop frivolously, cook at home. Because really it’s the small overlooked stuff that even when you cut out the big stuff still adds up. And then it hit me. Suddenly I heard the voices of all of those financial advisors from television, radio, in magazines. The ones that dish out the quick tips on how to easily save $100 without even trying. Most of those tips never apply to me. No daily latte addiction here. No standing mani/pedi/facials/blow-out appointments to cancel. INSTEAD I thought about this joint money market account that my husband and I first opened when we got engaged and were saving for our wedding. The one that is charging me a ridiculous monthly fee because it’s no longer our primary savings account therefore we never meet the minimum balance to quality for no fees. My husband has long stopped contributing to it and I have a nominal monthly amount that is automatically allocated from my paycheck each time I get paid. DUH! If I just cancel that account and have that deduction routed to the main savings account you guys I’m embarrassed to tellyou how much of a savings that would mean each year. Even more embarrassed that it has taken me this long to figure that out. Throwing money out the window for no reason what so ever! Expensive lesson learned.
What in your face, easy to get rid of expense are you missing?