Decluttering/Organising / Life / Living Frugally

Setting up a Budget

I’ve been toying with setting up a budget of some sort for quite a while now.

Our house is mostly single income, with Nick working in an administration role for his family’s business. I work from home (when work comes in) as a lawyer, but it can be tricky trying to juggle this with life (particularly with Mr J who requires a lot of attention and assistance at times).

Because of our rather limited income (and my rather extravagant ways) I’ve often thought that budgeting could work well. That said, I’m not sure whether Nick would go for it. He’s sort of a feast and famine type; if we have the money he’ll happily spend it, if we don’t, well he’ll just go without.

One way I’d like to reduce expenditure is by actually using the produce in the garden. Only it turns out that, now that I’m determined to use it, the produce is taking its sweet time arriving! I’ve been eyeing the vegetable patch forlornly every time I have to go to the supermarket to buy things like beans and carrots.

The other thing I’d like to try doing is limiting the amount of money that I spend on petrol and groceries. Right now I spend as much as I need to achieve my goal. This means that I’ll drive to my sister’s house three times a week, or I’ll do a giant grocery shop. While I’ll try to buy petrol when it’s cheap or keep an eye on prices of items that I’m purchasing, I don’t exactly stop when I hit my pre-determined goal.

At this stage I’m considering using the “envelope method” (for those not familiar, you put the amounts of money that you can spend on items in a labelled envelope and once you’ve spent the money it’s gone and you have to live without the item until the next time they get filled).

Groceries Envelope

I’m not sure whether Nick would be on board, so I’m not sure whether I’ll run it past him or not. To utilise a budget for groceries or petrol doesn’t require a joint effort, since I’m the person responsible for arranging those things.

I think the next two weeks are going to be about establishing a baseline. At this stage I’m thinking of making my weekly petrol budget $50 and my weekly grocery budget $150. I can’t work out whether that sounds like a lot or not much!

I’ll check back in in two weeks and let you know which figures I settle on, and then it’ll be a matter of trying to follow it! If it’s a success, I may even try adding clothing and gardening supplies to the mix.

Do you set a budget? How do you go about following it?

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5 thoughts on “Setting up a Budget

  1. I do give myself a very rough budget – but I also find budgeting just means I spend up to my “allowed” amount, rather than making a concious and considered decision to spend on said item in whichever budgetary area. If you are interested, there is a great money related blogger http://www.mrmoneymustache.com who sprouts an interesting way of looking at and spending (or not spending) money. It has changed the way I think about my finances.

  2. We have to be on a budget as we are on a very limited, erratic income. We use envelopes as well and find it works really well as long as you stick to it! It’s taken heaps of fine tuning and I think that will just be an ongoing process so don’t be afraid to try something for a while and then keep changing it until it feels right!

    • I suspect that my petrol budget is going to get revised pretty quickly! Trying to find a balance between judicious spending and being able to get around is certainly tricky.
      I’m glad you’ve had success with the envelopes – I’ve heard good things about it šŸ™‚

  3. We are hopeless with budgets, and Mr Good is the same as Nick feast or famine. That said we recently had quite a famine (and now that the side fence fell over in the wind yesterday it’s set to continue!) so I’ve really tried to reign in the groceries. I’ve got it down to about $130 for four people – I can manage to go without supermarket shopping every couple of weeks and just top up the fruit and veg and milk (and sometimes bread if I haven’t made any) which means some weeks my spend is as low as $30 – but the next week might be $150-170, still it works out less in the long run. I also decided that I should grow the things that cost more to buy, like herbs, beans, snow peas, tomatoes etc and buy the things that are cheap and hard to supply just from the garden like carrots and onions.

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