27 January 2009

Budget, Schmudget

In my family of five siblings, I am often ridiculed for being the cheap one. My brother comes in a close second, but his spending habits differ from mine in that he is willing to pay a larger amount of money for a quality item (as long as there are 5 rebates and a craigslist/ebay sale involved). I'll admit, I'm somewhat of a tightwad, although I have often wondered what makes me this way. How do we end up being the spenders or the savers that we are?

In married life, money conflicts are painful and frustrating, but inevitable, and Jeff and I have had our fair share of them over the years. We have tried many systems of budgeting trying to find one that we can both agree on and participate in, and have watched them all go by the wayside, unsuccessful, leaving us back to where we started, searching for the right one (sound familiar to anyone?)

My preference is a zero-based budget--you spend every penny of your monthly income on paper before you even get your paycheck, and then keep careful records throughout the month making sure you don't exceed what has been allotted into the various categories. When the money is all spent, you stop spending, whether the month is over or not. Like many systems, it takes a lot of planning and requires meticulous accounting of what is being spent, and when it is implemented in a marriage, both parties have to equally agree with where the money is going as well as keep track of their own spending throughout the month. We have discovered that the first part is much easier than the second. The keeping track is where we always seem to fail.

Then I discovered PearBudget. I read about it on SimpleMom--I could describe the program, but she does it so brilliantly in this post, that if you're interested, you should link over there to read all about it.

Here's what I love about this program and why I think it is working for us:
  • Unlike some other budgeting programs, PearBudget does not require you to link to your accounts. You enter your transactions as you spend, and keep track of it yourself.
  • The interface is simple and uncluttered and since it does the math for you once the transactions are entered, it is easy and convenient to see how much has been spent in each category.
  • Jeff and I can both access our account from any computer, so transactions can be entered at our convenience.
  • When we log on to enter transactions, we can both see how much has been spent in each category. (This eliminates one person having to be the policeman, telling the other one to stop spending money eating out because we have no more money allocated for dining out)

Luckily, I have a great husband who is not a big spender, is willing to participate in this budgeting program, talk about money more than he wants to, and even watch Suze Orman with me sometimes. So far, PearBudget has worked well for us and I hope it will continue to facilitate harmony in our marriage with regards to how our money is spent.


Bren, Aim, & Kaylee said...

Sounds awesome. I'll have to check it out. Anything to help us keep track of our money is well worth the time.

Lizzy said...

I'm going to have to look at this. When John and I first got married I was the spender and he was the saver. I think we somehow rubbed off on each other enough to meet in the middle. We both love to make budgets, but neither one of us is any good at sticking to them. I'll have to check this one out. Thanks for sharing!

Brent & Kate Jefferies said...

Cool! THanks for the tip Kristine!

Ilene said...

I have You Need A Budget (YNAB.com). I was all ready to get our budget down (I'm cheap but stink at tracking expenses). Then I had a baby and haven't entered a thing since September. Meanwhile the receipts are piling up.