Not Alone Series (v.1): Money, budget & finances

Today, I’m linking up with Rachel and Lindsay the Not Alone Series to discuss money and finances as a single girl (and how you would view/share finances once married)!

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Right now, my entire financial focus is debt repayment but I’m slowly trying to build my savings as well. Up until November, 2014 I was not making enough money to think about savings and debt because I was barely living paycheque to paycheque. Thankfully, I’m now making more money and have the ability to start thinking long and term and I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty much loving my current budget game plan. It is a modification and blend of 2 different budget plans I found. For most bills and debt, I’ve adopted the half-payment method. For groceries and living money I’ve modified Gail Vaz-Oxlade‘s jar system (I think she is similar to David Ramsey…but Canadian?).

Let me show you how it works:

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Spent a few hours on Christmas holidays doing this for every month for the next year. My expenses don’t vary much. Also, not my real expenses/pay. I just plugged in some random pay amounts.

So, essentially, I made a spreadsheet (I have all the love for spreadsheets!) and I broke down each month by how many paycheques I’ll get and the pay amounts.  Along the sides, I break down all of my expenses. The goal is to have the bottom total equal to zero. T

The first thing I fill in is the savings. My goal is about $50 a pay (split between an RRSP and a TFSA).

The 2nd is the “Life” amount. The Life amount is a weekly amount (so the $250 would be split over 2 weeks) that covers the cost of groceries, eating out, entertainment, etc). I got my weekly amount from filling in Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s interactive budget. I’m not doing the jar thing because it is FAR TOO COLD in the winter to trek to the bank to get cash every week.

3rd, I fill in my expenses. Some of my expenses don’t vary (Phone, internet, and rent) while others (NB Power/electricity are always roughly in and around $40). I split the expense over 2 paycheques (and adjust the NBPower amounts where necessary). This keeps it from putting too much stress on a single paycheque. 4th: I’m currently paying off 2 credit cards, so, after expenses, life, and savings are filled in I divide the remaining total by 2 and split the amount towards the cards.

Finally, I put a “self-care” entry. My work gets crazy busy in the winter and spring. Last year was my first year so I didn’t realise that, but I was so burnt out by mid-June that I just couldn’t function. And this year, I’ve added more to my plate because I never learn. So, beginning in February, I’m going to do something once a month that helps me refocus and re-charge my batteries. (February I’m going to get a pedicure, March a hair cut, etc).

At the end of the spreadsheet, I have totals for the savings & debt repayments for each quarter so I can keep track. I love doing it this way because it is adaptable. All of the amounts automatically add up, so if I change an amount the total at the bottom will change. If it goes negative I know I’ll need to trim somewhere else. It’s really easy, and I’m truly terrible at math so I love that I don’t have to do anything overly difficult.

As to the question on whether, once married, I would combine finances with my husband, I would say yes. Marriage is giving and receiving of the whole person and I think that includes all baggage including debt and expenses. That being said, I think it is vitally important to have discussions on how to handle finances BEFORE a person gets married. Just like anything else, you have to be on the same page and willing to compromise.

 

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9 thoughts on “Not Alone Series (v.1): Money, budget & finances

  1. I’m probably more familiar with Dave Ramsey than Vaz-Oxlade. He’s really big on paying cash for everything…even cars and houses. Does Gail promote this, too? Also, Ramsey is working from a Christian perspective, although your big brother was working his system for a long time before he even noticed. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad…

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    1. Yeah, she is all cash too. Hence my comment about modifying it because it is too damn cold to go to the bank weekly. She is okay with responsible debt (paying off your cc monthly, paying off a mortgage asap.)

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  2. I love your tips, especially for inputting self care as a part of your budget! Great visual aid, too! Also, as a married woman, I agree in general about joint accounts (but I understand couples who find another system works for them in various ways, as long as they’re not rooted in vice), as well as discussing finances BEFORE marriage. And it’s not just one conversation, but an ongoing discussion. Finally, YES–compromise, compromise, compromise.

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    1. Hi! Thanks so much for the comment. I’m super visual so I incorporate that. And, yeah, I totally get why it wouldn’t work for some couples to share finances but I think it is something each couples has to work out for themselves

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  3. I started with a spreadsheet but they just confused me…trust me I at one time had a file of “budget spreadsheets” with at least 20 different versions. I finally just tried using a software I downloaded called You Need A Budget and it has really worked well for me. I’ve been using it for 2 years and love it. You create the categories and put in your transactions and it does the rest.

    One of the best things I did last year was start saving for Christmas in January. Even if some months it was only $10 a month by the time November came around I had about $150 saved…it wasn’t enough to cover Christmas entirely but it was better than starting with $0!

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    1. I looked at You Need A Budget but I hated it. I’ve tried so many apps. This my 3rd gen. of budget spreadsheets that I’ve created and I love it. I find it really simple, but there is definitely no “one-size-fits-all” answer!

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  4. I’m a YNABer, like Beth Anne. I love it! You’re on the same path, with your zero-balance budget spreadsheet. That’s the only system that’s ever made sense to me. I don’t think I could ever run my own business accounts because I’ve been “running in the red” before, and it’s awful.

    Self-care is super important. I have my hair professionally chemically straightened because it matters to me, and thanks to my budget, I save cash for it every time! Everyone wins!

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    1. That’s awesome! Last year was the first spring at my current job and I had no idea what to expect. My previous job had been so menial that I’d never really had to deal with that kind of stress and burn out. This year I’m trying to take steps to cope better. 🙂 I got my first hair cut in over a year just before Christmas, I forgot how relaxing it was to have someone wash your head. I decided I needed to do things like that more often.

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