4 Tips for budgeting that will actually work + Frugality Boot Camp Ticket Giveaway!

4 budgeting tips

Well, it's the 2nd week of January. Has anyone besides me completely tanked on one or more of your New Year's Resolutions?? The good news is, this is common so you're not alone. The bad news is, this is common so you're not alone!

Luckily if you're following along with our Focused in 14 monthly challenges, it will help keep you on track with your resolutions all year long. For most of us, at least one resolution encompasses one of the most difficult aspects of our life – finances (ew, that F-word!). Today I shared some great tips for conquering this on my good friend One Good Thing By Jillee's blog…and thought I'd share it with you! Here are 4 simple budgeting tips that will, if you take them to heart, ENSURE financial success for you in 2014 (…and will make it simpler than ever)!

4 Tips for budgeting that will actually work:

1. Don't work together.

Huh? Ok well, work together, but don't work on the same thing. Let me explain better…

Picture a successful company. There aren't two CFO's…or two VP's of marketing…or two Director of Ops. Sure, they all work together toward the same common goal, but ultimately, they have their own responsibilities that they handle solo so no one's stepping on each others' toes. Why should it be any different in your family??

Sit down and make a list of everything you spend money on…and divide it up! Don't stop until every item has an “owner”. If both of you go grocery shopping randomly, you'll end up paying too much. If you both randomly pay the bills, you will probably miss a payment assuming the other person took care of it. Divide and conquer!

In my family I am at home with the kids during the day, my husband works in the office all day. Here are examples of the spending duties we divided up based on our personal skills and daily environment:

Me: Groceries/meals/meal planning, kid activities (memberships, day-passes), clothes, school fees, medical bills and choosing doctors (since I'm the one driving them to their activities), general home needs (but not home repairs), paying and picking the babysitters… to name a few.

Him: Car maintenance/checkups/repairs, paying all utilities/bills/loans (except medical bills), date nights, his own haircuts, paying off the credit cards, home repair needs… to name a few.

Let's call it like it is, marriage can be tough. Mostly because it's two completely different people who think in two completely different ways, having to come together and work in perfect simultaneous agreement to decide the most important aspects of their lives. Uh, yeah right.

Take the stress and “I'm right you're wrong!”-ness out of it! One of the most important things I've learned in my marriage is that everyone manages things differently, and has their own way of doing things. By dividing up responsibilities it's kind of like saying, “here's your realm, rule however you'd like! As long as the job gets done, you do it exactly how you see fit”. It leaves tons of room for autonomy and independence and allows people to put their own creativity and personal touch on the way the family runs. For us control freaks out there, that can be hard…but just remember to focus your control on YOUR responsibilities and run them exactly as you think they should! Again, we always need to work tighter (just as employees of a successful company do) but again, everyone has their own strengths, weaknesses, and ways of doing things so you've got to be understanding and work with that.


2. Focus on 3 budgets only.

Another great mistake I see people make is to have a dog grooming budget. Hair budget. Decor budget. Pampering budget. Eating out budget. Yadda yadda budget…so confusing! I propose consolidating it down to 3 budgets only:

  • Grocery – Anything you could buy at a typical grocery store (food, pharmacy items, basic baby needs, pet food, basic beauty/toiletry items…). This should be $100 per person in your family, per month…then divide it weekly, remember? 🙂
  • “Other” – Any other non-grocery items that you regularly spend money on (eating out, hair cuts, clothing, date nights, new cleats, car washes, dog grooming…). Divide up your non-bill, non-grocery expenses for the last 3 months and find the average to get a good start on what this budget should be.

I explain this in great detail in THIS POST.

As mentioned above, my husband doesn't worry about the grocery budget. However, we both have our own “other” budget each week. This not only covers our “other” duties, but also gives us some wiggle room for personal fun money. I can grab lunch with the girls, he can do a round of golf…as long as it fits within our “other” budget for that week (encourages frugality!).

So what about gasoline and bills? Those are very hard to budget for, because it is what it is. Cut back where you can, but things that AREN'T included in our weekly budgets are called “Family” items:

  • Family – Bills, utilities, emergencies – gasoline, power/gas/water, mortgage, loans, car/home repairs, medical costs. Set as much on auto pay as you can to make sure these bills are paid on time.


3. Break it down weekly – not monthly.

Many of us say, “Ok I will have $500 per month to spend and that's it!”. The 1st of the month rolls around, you get a wad of $100 bills and next thing you know, it's gone before tuesday. Pace yourself. Take your monthly budget, then divide it by how many weeks there are in that month…and now you have a WEEKLY budget! Trust me, it's way easier to manage, and much easier to follow.

I follow the US calendar and consider my month as the first majority week of that month, Sunday to Sunday.  February 2014 for example, the first week would be Feb 2 – 8 and there would be 4 weeks in that month. April 2014, the first week would be March 30 – April 5, and there would be 5 weeks in the month.

For good budget guideline amounts and how to easily break it up and track it weekly, see The simplest budgeting technique ever.


 4. Don't push yourself too hard.

Wait, whaaaa? Shocked you with this one, didn't I? Now, I'm not saying to make budgeting a vacation or walk in the park. You still need to push yourself. But the biggest mistake I see people making is to shoot past the moon and aim for Mars! Guys, Mars is really far away and hard to get to…that's why no one's done it yet. When setting budgets push yourself past your comfort zone, but be realistic! The goal is to SUCCEED! If you fail within the first week you'll throw in the towel, say “I'm bad at this budgeting stuff!” and never try again. Baby steps! Cut back a little this month. Then a little more the next. Then more the next. It takes time, like exercising a new muscle.

* * * * *

Frugality Boot Camp Ticket Giveaway!

Now, if any of you seem overwhelmed by all of this budget talk…have no fear! Our 3rd annual Frugality Boot Camp is coming up on January 18th here in South Jordan, UT. (For those outside of Utah we will have Virtual tickets which gives access to all lectures, classes, and handouts this year!)

Frugality Boot Camp is a full-day conference where you come and learn everything you could ever possibly want to know about budgeting, talking with your spouse about finances, frugal fashion, meal planning, kids and finances, and much much more! (And we feed you lunch so really, it's awesome.)

Enter to win TWO free in-person OR virtual tickets! Enter online HERE or click the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. AvatarAmanda says

    Jordan, as always, this post is awesome. I have been in a serious relationship for over 4 years now. Marriage is something we both want but we know that there is still work to be done before it can happen. I really want to get him on board with this budgeting system. I have heard way too many stories of marriages crumbling to bits within the first few years because they were constantly fighting over money. I want to avoid that as much as possible! I understand that arguments about money happens (how do we spend our savings? I want to splurge on this or that, ect), but why fight if you don’t have to! How I have rambled for a while! Thanks again for all your hard work and guidance!

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Amanda! I’m so glad you liked it! You’re right, marriage is a lot about give and take. It can be tough! One of the most important things I’ve learned is that everyone manages things differently, and has their own way of doing things. By dividing up responsibilities it’s kind of like saying, “here’s your ‘realm’, rule however you’d like! As long as the job gets done, you do it exactly how you see fit”. It leaves tons of room for autonomy and independence and allows people to put their own creativity and personal touch on the way the family runs. I’m excited for your future and bet you’ll be an incredible wife!!

  2. AvatarBeth says

    Hi Jordan:
    Just found your website a couple days ago and I’m really excited to get started. My question concerns your free printable for the budget envelopes…the smaller envelope (3 5/8 x 6 1/2″) work better for me for several reasons. (One being that that’s what I have on hand!) I was wondering if there’s anyway to get your printable in that smaller size. I can’t seem to make it fit on the envelopes I have.
    I know this is not a big deal and I can always just write it by hand, but your template is so cute.
    I love everything about it…the font, the colors, everything. So if you could help me, I’d appreciate it.

    Thanks so much for your attention and your great blog…I’ve learned so much already!

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Hey Beth! Go ahead and email Lindsay (at) funcheaporfree (dot) com and tell her the sizes you need, we’ll see what we can do!! XOXO

  3. AvatarShannon says

    Okay this is probably one of the most helpful blog posts I have read…EVER!! Thank you for making it so simple!!

  4. AvatarAlison says

    Hi this is great information! Thank you so much for sharing. I have a question regarding pets – you suggest including their food in the groceries/ consumables budget. Is this amount in addition to the $100/person? Do we count them as a person? Our dog food costs on average $66-99 Canadian/month as we alternate types and we have to go to a separate store for it. thanks for the clarification

  5. AvatarKati Blackledge says

    So how does your husband do it? If I gave him a small envelope that would fit in his wallet, that might work, but mens wallets go in their pockets, and I don’t think he would do it. So how does your husband manage his portion? Thanks. I think I can do this. I really need to. We lost our teenaged son in a moto accident last year and I have let everything go. I did get a loan and we paid off all of our large interest rate things and now that loan is for 100K at 4%. I just got fired, but I will get unemployment for a year. I know I can do this. I looked up HSA and it isn’t really a good option for us as my husband is a school employee and our insurance is 100 month.

    • AvatarClare says

      It would be interesting to see Bubba’s side of it. I’m sure he has receipts in his wallet and he tally’s it up at home at a desk…or maybe on an app?

    • AvatarJennifer says

      You can use banking envelopes that are the size of cash. That will fit in a wallet. You could sharpie on the budget graphic, or work with printer settings and set to whatever percentage will print on that envelope?

  6. AvatarAlyssa says

    I love this envelope system and you really focus on my “mom” part but what about my husband how does he do the envelope system too. If he is paying the utilities there should be no left over money for him to barrow from the other side.. and what is his other .. could you do a video from your husband envelope?

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Hi Alyssa! The utilities would actually be a part of the family budget. Your husband may pay them, but they come out of the same budget as bills/gas/mortgage/etc. My husband doesn’t use the envelope system, he uses Mint.com to track his responsibilities because it’s digital and the app is free and easy to use. He just gets a monthly budget that he uses to pay for his “other” items. If you’d like more details on how we do our budget, watch this video and it should answer your questions!

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