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Budgeting

ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
edited November 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
So, I've recently moved out and I'm considering buying a new vehicle in a few months, depending how the prices on cars go here in Canada.

Now, I'm trying to more finely figure out my budgeting situation, so that I can judge what I would be able to pay per month to finance the vehicle. However, I can not seem to find a decent budgeting template or anything that isn't filled with insane/unnecessary information.

So, I've decided to just do a text file and keep track of my cost/month of living. Now, I need help because I figure I am missing something on the sheet, so, here is what I've got:

Rent, Car Insurance, Food, Gym Membership, Subscriptions, Utilities/Internet, Cell, and Gas... Now, this seems like very little to me and I want to be as accurate as possible without being too anal (for example, haircuts, which I get every 3 months or so). So, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Comahawk on
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Posts

  • falsedeffalsedef Registered User
    edited November 2007
    I suggest you use a spreadsheet like excel or openoffice calc. I don't really have anything to add, other than the "anal" things you could list, so I could probably use a few suggestions myself.

    The first column of my spreadsheet looks something like this:
    1. Rent
    2. Utilities
    3. Food
    4. Car insurance
    5. Mobile
    6. Clothes
    7. Computer crap
    8. School loans
    9. .
    10. .
    11. Total monthly
    12. Quarterly
    13. Yearly
    14. .
    15. .
    16. Yearly income
    17. Taxes percent cut
    18. Taxes flat
    19. Income after taxes
    20. .
    21. Yearly net

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Have a "Lifestyle" category, this covers your haircuts, clothes, alcohol, eating out and whatever you do that you enjoy.

  • MengerSpongeMengerSponge Registered User
    edited November 2007
    I use a pretty simple excel spreadsheet to keep track of all this. I set it up with different "sheets", with one being the year in aggregate and each month having its own page. It's basically divided into categories like other people have mentioned (mine are clothes, electronics, entertainment, food (out), groceries, miscellaneous, rent/utilities, and transportation). For each purchase I keep the date, category, location, what was bought, and the amount (I am pretty obsessive compulsive about these things, you could keep a lot less info and still be fine).

    Any set of categories that makes sense to you is fine, but I think you could combine cell with utilities, and maybe throw rent in there too; in my view, those costs are relatively unchanging and necessary. Also, make two separate categories for food that you get out and groceries. You can really cut down expenses by spending a little more on groceries and buying a lot less food out, but if they're combined into a "food" category, it's hard to see how you could cut that down.

  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I use a pretty simple excel spreadsheet to keep track of all this. I set it up with different "sheets", with one being the year in aggregate and each month having its own page. It's basically divided into categories like other people have mentioned (mine are clothes, electronics, entertainment, food (out), groceries, miscellaneous, rent/utilities, and transportation). For each purchase I keep the date, category, location, what was bought, and the amount (I am pretty obsessive compulsive about these things, you could keep a lot less info and still be fine).

    Any set of categories that makes sense to you is fine, but I think you could combine cell with utilities, and maybe throw rent in there too; in my view, those costs are relatively unchanging and necessary. Also, make two separate categories for food that you get out and groceries. You can really cut down expenses by spending a little more on groceries and buying a lot less food out, but if they're combined into a "food" category, it's hard to see how you could cut that down.


    The problem with the food thing is that I'm a cook, most people are telling me to budget like $200-$300/month for food, when in fact I'm spending like $80-$100 a month I figure. About $20/week in groceries (breakfast food and snacks) and maybe an extra $20 if I go for Dim Sum that week. I eat my main meals at work and really only ahve to worry about feeding myself on the weekends.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • NewtonNewton Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Comahawk wrote: »
    I use a pretty simple excel spreadsheet to keep track of all this. I set it up with different "sheets", with one being the year in aggregate and each month having its own page. It's basically divided into categories like other people have mentioned (mine are clothes, electronics, entertainment, food (out), groceries, miscellaneous, rent/utilities, and transportation). For each purchase I keep the date, category, location, what was bought, and the amount (I am pretty obsessive compulsive about these things, you could keep a lot less info and still be fine).

    Any set of categories that makes sense to you is fine, but I think you could combine cell with utilities, and maybe throw rent in there too; in my view, those costs are relatively unchanging and necessary. Also, make two separate categories for food that you get out and groceries. You can really cut down expenses by spending a little more on groceries and buying a lot less food out, but if they're combined into a "food" category, it's hard to see how you could cut that down.


    The problem with the food thing is that I'm a cook, most people are telling me to budget like $200-$300/month for food, when in fact I'm spending like $80-$100 a month I figure. About $20/week in groceries (breakfast food and snacks) and maybe an extra $20 if I go for Dim Sum that week. I eat my main meals at work and really only ahve to worry about feeding myself on the weekends.

    Well, you will obviously customize your budget for what makes sense for your situation. One thing I do that works well for me is to overestimate all my expenses. For example, my mortgage payment is $2070/month, so I round that up to $2100 in the budget. My wife and I will usually spend $60/week on groceries, but sometimes it can be as high as $80, so I budget $350/month for that. Basically anything that is a variable expense, like utilities or entertainment, I'll set at the high end of what we actually would spend and then add 5-10%. This just pads our budget to ensure that we have enough to cover the essentials and still have money left over for unexpected expenses or extra savings.

    Also, you should include a category for savings. It really helps to build up your savings if you have it as a monthly expense and can stick to your budget.

  • mastmanmastman Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Comahawk wrote: »
    The problem with the food thing is that I'm a cook, most people are telling me to budget like $200-$300/month for food, when in fact I'm spending like $80-$100 a month I figure. About $20/week in groceries (breakfast food and snacks) and maybe an extra $20 if I go for Dim Sum that week. I eat my main meals at work and really only ahve to worry about feeding myself on the weekends.

    $80-100 a month on food sounds really unrealistic to me. I spend $60-70 a week on groceries.

    ByalIX8.png
  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    mastman wrote: »
    Comahawk wrote: »
    The problem with the food thing is that I'm a cook, most people are telling me to budget like $200-$300/month for food, when in fact I'm spending like $80-$100 a month I figure. About $20/week in groceries (breakfast food and snacks) and maybe an extra $20 if I go for Dim Sum that week. I eat my main meals at work and really only ahve to worry about feeding myself on the weekends.

    $80-100 a month on food sounds really unrealistic to me. I spend $60-70 a week on groceries.

    I work 5-6 days a week and work nights. I eat at work mostly and generally only ahve to buy myself breakfast food.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • LukinLukin Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I use this program to help me with my budgeting. It really does nothing a pencil and paper can't do, but it helps to have it listed in front of you in handy-dandy graph form.

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  • Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Pay yourself first.

    every budget should begin with a portion of your income going into savings and retirement. After that have all your expenses. Then anything left over can be used as disposable income or in your case a car payment.

    You should have at least 3 months pay in a savings account as an emergency fund in case something happens. (your work burns down, you get laid off, Your new car gets pwned with something that isnt covered in car insurance, zombie invasion)

    Also your car will not just be a car payment. Expect at least a 20$ oil change every three months as well as at least one annual check up for around 200$ (if the car is brand new you might not need this the first 2 years but anything after that is a good idea unless you do your own maintenance) Also cars break tires pop and things need replacing around the 50-100k mile mark. so if you are buying used at say 40k expect that first round of maintenance within the first year.

    Just some things to think about. The 3 months of pay savings sucked to accrue when i first got out of college and was making money. But once I got it sitting in the bank it is so nice not to have to rely on a credit card when things hit the shitter.

  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Limp moose wrote: »
    Pay yourself first.

    every budget should begin with a portion of your income going into savings and retirement. After that have all your expenses. Then anything left over can be used as disposable income or in your case a car payment.

    You should have at least 3 months pay in a savings account as an emergency fund in case something happens. (your work burns down, you get laid off, Your new car gets pwned with something that isnt covered in car insurance, zombie invasion)

    Also your car will not just be a car payment. Expect at least a 20$ oil change every three months as well as at least one annual check up for around 200$ (if the car is brand new you might not need this the first 2 years but anything after that is a good idea unless you do your own maintenance) Also cars break tires pop and things need replacing around the 50-100k mile mark. so if you are buying used at say 40k expect that first round of maintenance within the first year.

    Just some things to think about. The 3 months of pay savings sucked to accrue when i first got out of college and was making money. But once I got it sitting in the bank it is so nice not to have to rely on a credit card when things hit the shitter.

    All the advice thus far has been very helpful. And as an update I'm moving away from the new car idea and looking at used, in the $8000 range, which won't be such a nightmare. I plan on saving continuously for the next 3-4 months to get a good chunk of cash put away (I currently can save up to $800 every month from what I have figured so far... still waiting to see what my utilities cost) and seeing where things go.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • DamaleonDamaleon Registered User
    edited November 2007
    Personally I've found it very easy to budget after figuring out the following:

    Recurring flat expenses (rent, insurance premiums, student loan payments, etc.)
    Recurring variable expenses (utilites, phone, credit card/debt payments, food and gas costs, etc.)
    Average one-shot expenses (haircuts, oil changes, big night out drinking, new tires, car repairs, etc.)

    The only difficult one is figuring out what's a good amount to put aside for one-shot expenses. Since my car is 10 years old now, I try to have a minimum of $500 in savings to cover a repair should I need it, and anything costing more than that goes on a credit card for a month or two. For the most part though, I average about $30-$40 a month in maintenance over the year.

    For me it worked out pretty well; I set aside $200 every two weeks for food and gas, $50 for one-shot expenses goes in my savings account, about 10% of my check for entertainment purposes and general spending, and the rest goes to recurring expenses. Anything remaining of the food/gas and entertainment funds when I get my next check gets split between savings and debt until the debt is gone. I pretty much only pay attention to an expense if it costs me more than $30 a month, otherwise I lump it in with one-shot expenses.

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