No man is defeated without until he has first been defeated within. - Eleanor Roosevelt
Question #92546 posted on 08/23/2019 7:43 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What's your preferred system for tracking finances/budgeting? What has and hasn't worked for you in the past? I downloaded You Need A Budget (YNAB) about a week ago, and while I admittedly haven't had it for very long, it's my new Favorite Thing.

- Whoops, I think I turned into a Boring Adult

A:

Dear Boring Adult,

I use a combination of Mint and a spreadsheet in Google Sheets. My spreadsheet breaks down my annual and monthly budget based on current salary and desired expenditures. I then input these budget categories into Mint, where I've linked my various accounts. I use Mint to keep track of whether I'm staying on track for each budget category. Then every few months I'll review my past spending to see if I need to make any adjustments to budget categories.

I love budgeting, but I don't want to think about it and update my information every single day. My system works because I can consult my spreadsheet at any time to remind myself how much I have to spend, and check Mint at any time to see how the overall month is going. This helps me keep my budget realistic and in line with my general spending.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear BA,

When I first took my foray into budgeting, I used an app that was called Level. I say "was" because it no longer exists. Which really sucks, because it was simple and easy to use. It would track your purchases and stuff, but its main strength was that you would put in an amount for spending in a month and it would tell you how much you can spend each day. If you spent more than that amount, it re-adjusted the rest of the days to keep you on track. It essentially gave 20ish year old me a daily allowance, and for that I was grateful.

Then I spent many years without any kind of budgeting until this last semester, when I took the Family Finance class and making a budget was literally an assignment. I went with Mint, which I am still mostly using. It's working well for my needs, but you really have to set everything up on a computer to get the full functionality. If you go in and try to do it just with your phone, you're going to miss a lot of features that make things easier.

That being said, I'm not entirely sold on Mint, so maybe I'll check out You Need A Budget and see if it better fits my needs. 

-Quixotic Kid

A:

Dear person,

I use a Google Sheet. It works pretty well. I like the flexibility offered by a spreadsheet and it meets my needs. It is worth noting that, at this point, I'm not a tight budgeter. Currently, I only have short-term financial goals (i.e., I need to make ___ amount for tuition by [month], and I have ___ months, so I need to save about ___ per month until then." That's about all I can realistically do as a graduate student who won't make real money until age 30 or so. Once I have long-term goals (e.g., retirement, down payment), I may or may not need additional tools. So far, making savings goals has been sufficient motivation and structure for me. Until that is no longer the case, I will be using the Google Sheet. 

-Sheebs

A:

Dear whoops,

Is it bad if I say I don't really use anything...? My bank account does have some budgeting tools online that I sort of use to track my spending, etc., but basically my categories are just rent and everything else. So... whoops, I guess I haven't turned into an adult.

Sincerely,

Cerulean

P.S. Thanks for the tip. Maybe I'll start using You Need A Budget.

A:

Dear friend, 

Like Sheebs, I budget using a Google Sheet. I make a tentative budget and then adjust for the things that real life throws at me, like dental bills. I like doing it myself... I don't know why, but budgeting apps have never been good to me, and the digital version of the good old fashioned DIY way works just dandy for me. Why fix what ain't broke (haha, get it?) 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

A:

Dear Adulting,

We're only at the beginning phases of budgeting. But we save all of our receipts and put them into categories: Food, car, lodging, personal care, entertainment, etc. We input the total amount of each receipt, the date, and what for into Google Sheets.

If it's Walmart, we divide the receipts into sub-categories: personal care and food are the two main factors for us when it comes to Walmart. But sometimes we have cleaning supplies that goes into lodging. 

...Then that's about it. We compare the total categories from previous months to see if we're doing better or worse.  We're saving money, but I couldn't tell you how much. Hopefully it'll get better soon, one of my goals after we move this month!

Thanks for the tips fam!

-Goldie Rose 

posted on 08/23/2019 10:48 a.m.
Goodbudget.com is very similar to YNAB but you can get a simple version for FREE! Personally I don't want to have to pay a fee to be able to budget so that rules out You Need A Budget for me.