I used to struggle with budgeting until three things happened: the first was I for my food budget under control with a consistent system that worked. That’s a huge area where I used to overspend, and it really messed up our budget. The second area was our income, which I finally increased consistently (without having to work for clients or put the kids in daycare) on Pinterest. This budgeting method was the kicker that really helped me manage out finances quickly and easily. I spend no more then 15 minutes when we get paid, and because it’s easy I can maintain it even when I’m tired or busy.
How the 15 Minute Budget works
First things first, I cover the large, and most important bills. Food, housing, insurance… all the fun things like that.
- Rent (our utilities are included in our rent)
- Savings for emergencies
With these bills, I half-pay them each paycheck so we don’t have paychecks where we’re broke because large expenses like rent came out of the bank account. Once those are budgeted, I put in the variable things that are high priority.
Next I put money into our digital “envelopes” for our smaller bills that will be automatically paid from our checking account between then and the next paycheck. This may look something like this, depending on the month and the pay period:
- Storage unit
- Debt payments
- Auto maintenance fund
- Saving for any upcoming travel
It’s easy with our bank to make digital “envelopes” for each bill coming out, so I know what money I have already spoken for when I look at our bank balance.
After those things are paid, we spend the rest of Ian’s check in this order:
- Fun money
- Gifts for upcoming birthdays/gift supplies and gifts for the holidays
- Extra payments on debt
- Misc. stockpiling or small items from our ongoing Amazon wishlist
- Increase eating out budget
- Prepay small bills
- Order extra bulk groceries (this doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while I like to super-stock the pantry)
When Ian works a lot of overtime, his paycheck has gone up by as much as $600 in a pay period, which is a lot. It’s important to us to be responsible with that money, but I want to make it a point to say that we also try to make sure we’re not burning ourselves out by being hyper-frugal and tempting ourselves to binge spend and mess up our budget.
What it looks like to have a digital envelope system budget
The other reason I love budgeting this way
Using this method also helped me easily get ahead on my bills, because I could add $10 here, $30 there to our bills when Ian worked overtime and we had extra money to spend. That helped us get so we are a month ahead on our bills, which is a really big help, because if we had something huge happen, like a $600 car repair we had to make, we wouldn’t have to starve to fix it or sell off any body parts on the black market. 😉
I know there are a lot of bloggers out there who keep a lot of different bank accounts where they set aside money for a lot of things, but I find that to be overwhelming and it can get confusing. It’s a lot to remember, and a lot of bank cards to keep straight. I don’t like systems that require a lot of thought, because it isn’t easily sustainable.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our budget. 😀 It’s helped me a lot, and using the digital envelope system. I definitely don’t knock people who use cash systems, I have a
huge slight obsession with cash wallet systems, but this works really well for our family. One account for budgeting everything (except fun money) and it’s helped us get our finances in order, and make real progress on our debt snowball and savings goals.