A month is such a long time to track anything. Switch to a weekly budget and never worry about a monthly one again! Sit back and be amazed at how easy it is to keep up with. You’ll be patting yourself on the back in no time as you get more things done, son!
Budget. The dreaded B-WORD. Can you feel the cold sweat brewing?
When Bubba and I went through our F.D. (financial disaster) we were forced to start from scratch. He took over the role of managing our money and staying on top of the bills, I took over the role of finding everyday systems that WORK (see my “dividing financial responsibilities” post for how we did this).
As we trudged through our F.D., there was a lot of trial and error, mostly on my end since I am the majority spender in our family between the groceries, house needs, kid needs, and well…general shopping needs (hey, this woman has fashion needs, ok??). Through the trial and error, one thing became abundantly clear…
IT'S TIME TO SWITCH TO A WEEKLY BUDGET
Why? Because monthly budgets don't work very well.
Screetch. Crash. Record scratches. Dramatic silence.
I know, I know, I know, but it's what you've always done. And your mom. And her mom. Plus your uncle's half-sister's hair dresser's step cousin's mom. While that may be so, I want you to think about how you are currently budgeting and ask yourself this question…
Is the way I'm budgeting currently actually working?
If the answer was yes, then good for you for opening this post in the first place–leave a comment and teach us your ways!! 😉 For the rest of us, the truth is the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Might be time to switch things up a bit.
Now, let me clarify one thing. In this post I'm referring to a “budget” as a category you actively spend money on regularly. Not utilities, mortgage, health insurance budget, vacation budget, and not even necessarily gas (since I think of gasoline more like a utility). Because those usually do operate on a monthly basis, and you don't have much control over those expenses for the most part.
Traditionally these budgets are set on a monthly basis. Today we're going to flip that on it's head!
WHY YOU SHOULD USE A WEEKLY BUDGET INSTEAD OF MONTHLY
So, let's break it down so that you can fully understand why a weekly budget is so. much. better. than a monthly one!
YOUR LIFE RUNS BY WEEKS, NOT MONTHS
When you sit down and look at your upcoming calendar, I doubt you're organizing your life (in detail) an entire month at a time. Sure, you may glance ahead for a general overview. But most likely you operate on a weekly basis…so why shouldn't your budget? Trust me guys, a monthly budget is so yesterday.
Oh yes, I did just quote a Hilary Duff song…
THE SMALLER THE NUMBER, THE MORE MANAGEABLE IT IS
Let's take a grocery budget, for example. I recommend aiming for $100 per person in your family per month (as explained here). For my family, that is $800/month.
If you give me $800 cash on the first of the month and tell me to make it last all month, what am I going to do?
Well first, I'm going to get $800 in $1's and make it rain while dancing in the money while jumping on my bed like they do in the movies. Obviously.
Then I'll do my shopping as usual, not being all too cautious because $800 smacks is a lot of dough. I'll burn through all $800 in a week and a half (gasp! I have no idea how that happened, Bubba! seriously!) and tell myself I'm not going to spend money for the rest of the month...yeah right.
30 or 31 days is a LONG TIME, folks! Don't do that to yourself! Single digits is the goal. Our brains and will-power handle small numbers MUCH better than large ones.
HOW TO FIGURE OUT YOUR WEEKLY BUDGET
My $800 monthly grocery budget suddenly turns into $200/week. It's not only easier to track and wrap my head around, but it paces my spending for the month which helps me avoid going over…by like, 10 million times. Clinically proven.
Ultimately, you only need to focus on that budget for 7 days (or 6, if you don't spend money on Sundays like I do). THAT'S IT. Anyone can handle staying strong for 6 days.
See, doesn't that seem so cute, cuddly, and doable?
KEEP YOUR WEEKLY BUDGETS TO 3 OR LESS
There are lots of envelope budget systems floating around, where you have an envelope of cash for every little thing in your life: Haircut envelope. School fees envelope. Eating out envelope. Dog food envelope. Groceries. Gas. Snail Bait. Diet Coke runs.
Well…what happens if you don't need snail bait that month? Or what if you need more groceries than usual because you have family in town? It gets confusing with a capital C, guys!
I recommend 3 budgets or less. I, personally, only have two: 1) Grocery and 2) Other.
“Grocery” is anything consumable. I'm talking food, toilet paper, dog food, toiletries, diapers, formula…snail bait.
“Other” includes everything else I spend money on during the week, such as outings with the kids, gas station drinks, shoes and clothes, a throw pillow for the couch, soccer cleats, baby shower gift, fast food runs, etc. The amount depends on your finances and expenses. When we first started, we started with just $50/month because that’s all we could afford. For the sake of example, let’s say our “other” budget is $400/month.
PSA: See all about what else these budgets entail in my “Simplest Budgeting Technique Ever” post.
ALLOW FOR BREATHING ROOM
By only having 2 or 3 budgets, it allows for flexibility. For example…
I have $200/week for “groceries,” $100 for “other.” Let's say I have NO food in the house and spend $250 on groceries that week. That's fine! I still have $50 for “other.”
The next week I don't need as many groceries since I did a huge haul, just $40 for random consumables. That means I now have $260 for “other.” This allows plenty of money for whatever I need that week and had to give up last week (aka just 6 little days ago).
FIND A GOOD TRACKING SYSTEM
If you're old-school and like writing things down like me, I recommend my good ol' envelope tracking method, or even a check register (if you youngsters out there even know what that is…).
If that's not your cup of tea, keep track in your phone! Use a financial app like Mint.com, which is what Bubba uses to manage and track all of our bank accounts, bills, savings accounts, HSA, etc. You can also use a good ol' spreadsheet in the Google Sheets app, or whatever works for you.
Heck, I can't remember the last time I even went to the bathroom without my phone, let alone left the house without it. Find a method that works for you, and track EVERY dime. Give it a good month before trying something new; new habits don't form overnight, you know.
So there you go! Next time you sit down to look over your finances, break the monthly sum down into a weekly budget and it'll make your life a whole lot easier.
CHECK OUT BUDGET BOOT CAMP
If you need more help getting your budget and finances in control, then make sure that you see what Budget Boot Camp is all about!
It's a super fun, online video program that makes budgeting easy to understand! I'm so confident that you'll love it that I have a 100% money-back guarantee. Plus, you can use the code FCFBLOG at checkout to get 10% off just because!
Looking for more great ideas?
- Tired of living paycheck to paycheck? Come learn how to start a budget and break that chain!
- Do you really have the itch to buy something? Ask yourself these 10 questions to see if the purchase is worth it.
- Save big money on your electric bill with these tips!
Now if you don't mind, I need to go find me some snail bait…