I now have our bills and expenses calculated out for the rest of 2011 and put myself on a strict budget of $25 per week spending money. That might not seem like a lot. That's because it's NOT. Luckily, I work from home so it's not convenient for me to pop out to get lunch, or drop by Starbucks for a Frappucino. That helps. But still, if I want to indulge in my mani/pedis, I have to like, save my spending money for more than a week to have enough to cover it. So weird. (Mr. Chick's spending money is a whole other topic for another day - trust me, it's complicated.)
Interestingly enough, I started talking about this topic because of a Twitter comment made my Miss Britt and the system I've adopted is really similar to the spreadsheet budgeting method she talked about at one point on her blog. I've actually tried for years to come up with a budgeting system that would work for us and I think I've finally done it. I couldn't figure out exactly what I found so difficult about the other budgets I tried, but I had a huge 'Aha' moment not too long ago.
I realized that a lot of the pre-existing budget spreadsheets and programs are built based on a monthly schedule, but for me, it's easier to budget based on pay period. Mr. Chick and I are both paid bi-weekly on similar schedules, so it's much simpler to budget our money for bills during a pay period, than to look at a month from the first to the last day, when that doesn't usually fit in with our pay cycle. Because of that, I never really had a clear picture of how much money we had, or didn't have.
I now know at any given time, exactly how much money is in our checking and savings accounts. I can tell you how much we'll be able to put in savings by the end of December. I can tell you what the balance on my checking account will be in November. Again, so weird. But, liberating at the same time.
I still haven't made any progress with establishing what our ultimate financial goals are, but hey, the fact that I have a spreadsheet that I look at on a regular basis called 'Cash Flow Analysis' is good enough for me. At least for now.