How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House


How Real Budgeting Works In Our House


Download your free copy of a Monthly Budget Spreadsheet HERE to get started.


I get tons of questions for more information on exactly how we handle budgeting around here, so here's a quick overview of our monthly budget planning.


We by no means have it all figured out, but this is what's worked for us for almost twenty years . . . maybe it will help you too!


We started years ago using the Financial Peace envelope system, however, at least for our family, keeping up with cash for every single item was just difficult to manage. So, here's how we've tweaked it to work for us:

  • Every two weeks (on Friday), we withdraw cash for groceries, dining out, and entertainment
  • Once a month, we have an automatic withdrawal taken out of our checking account and deposited into savings for other specific items (keep reading)
  • When we need one of those specific items, we transfer money back into checking from savings to cover those expenses.


So, what kind of things do we budget for beyond food? Here's an idea . . .
  • Kids sports and extracurricular activities
  • Vacations
  • Christmas gifts (we start saving every January)
  • Birthday gifts
  • Car expenses
  • Car replacement
  • Life insurance
  • Home Owners Association dues
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Furniture Replacement (I don't think my husband puts much in this one, but I forced him to add it in the spreadsheet) 😉
  • Clothing
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Hair Care
  • School Supplies
  • College Fund
  • “Blow” money
Then, within our monthly budget we have a separate tab (we use a simple Excel spreadsheet) that includes our savings account totals. I just looked at it this morning and the one that we currently are using has been around since 2007 ~ it was interesting that we now have well over ten times what we started with in that little savings account, and I can't tell you just how much freedom comes with that!




If you're new to budgeting, here are several free budget spreadsheets you can use to get you started :


I'd love to know how your family handles monthly budget expenses, and what other suggestions you have. Leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you!



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  1. Thank you for your blog and website!! It i has helped so much and I have only been a member a couple of weeks. I have even shared it with friends. I just read your budgeting post and I have a question. I have been trying to get our family started on a budget for quite awhile now and I just can’t seem to figure out where to start. We seem to be always short at the end of the month and things always end up being late, and you know that once that happens you can’t seem to get back to a zero starting point. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Hi Tracy ~ I’m so glad you’re here! Okay… if you haven’t read Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey, it’s a great place to start. I would use one of the free budgets listed above, put down all of your monthly expenses and income, and plan to leave some wiggle room ~ you will ALWAYS need it. You may have to really skimp for awhile (use coupons at the grocery store, cook at home, give up any extras, etc.) but figure out how you can make it on only what you’re making. If you don’t have enough, try to figure out what you can cut out, and think about ways to earn some extra income (online surveys earn a little, a garage sale is a GREAT way to get quick money, or maybe even see if you can help someone out by babysitting or any other way to make sure you have enough.)

      Then, determine to really stick to it (that’s the hard part!) Absolutely decide where you’re going to spend your money, and DON’T spend it anywhere else (which isn’t always easy, especially with the holidays around the corner!) Think about how you can do everything for less, and just see what baby steps you can accomplish. I know you can do it! Let me know if I can answer any other questions – praying for you as you get started!

  2. Do you put aside money for college and wedding expenses for the kids in the future?

  3. I have been budgeting since I first started baby sitting, when I was 12, and haven't stopped yet. I'm 58 now and have a 53 line item budget I work with every week. I have a catagory for everything, right down to buying news papers! Pay raises come at the end of the year for us and I figure out in Dec. my budget for the following year. For some things I keep envelopes. These are things like groceries, clothes, dining out, and things where I can pay cash. For the rest it goes into a savings acct. every week. These things I usually put on a credit card and when the charge shows up online a day or two later I pay it. I keep a list in my purse of all my catagories and what the balances are in each. If I need something I can pull out that list and know immediately if I can buy it or not. It takes a little work, but when I see what's being put away each week I don't mind doing it at all. At the end of the year what ever is left over in the envelopes is used for the following year. What's left in the savings acct. rolls over to the following year. I bought a new car a couple weeks ago and tried to put it on my credit card. The dealership wouldn't let me charge more than 5K due to the expenses they'd get hit with. I want the points and get free airline tickets with them. One of my kids and his family live 3000 miles away and these tickets come in handy. Budgeting requires some work and isn't eary to start if you've never done it before, but it is well worth it. When you see those accts. building up every week it makes you think twice about buying things you may not really need. I'd rather see the numbers go up than have something I could live without.

  4. We’ve had an excel budget for many years and tried paper envelopes a few years ago, but just had issues getting the hang of it. A few months ago, I decided to try the envelope system again, but this time, I splurged on a cute fabric wallet with fabric zippered envelopes. I <3 my cash wallet. I liked the idea of separate envelopes so I can simply grab the one I know I will need versus having to carry the entire wallet with cash every time I leave the house. I made similar categories as you did: Christmas, Birthdays, car expenses, kids sports, Donut (the kids morning car pool buys donuts on Fridays 😉 ), allowance, savings, dry cleaning, etc. My husband gets paid weekly, so it’s easy to pull out $XX every week to add to the envelopes. I find that the $5 or $10 into the envelopes adds up quickly without really feeling the effects on my checkbook. Don’t get me wrong, we were not perfect during the holidays (we went over grocery/eating out budget a couple of times) and I needed to “borrow” from the other envelopes a few times, but that was ok. I always evened things out the next payday. I think the best “trick” is being flexible and making adjustments as needed. For instance, on excel/paper I only budgeted $200 a week for groceries and eating out and I’m finding that number might be too low for us. So paying cash is helping me to see where are shortfalls are each month, so I can plan accordingly moving forward.

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