Budgeting & the Like.

September 30, 2009

Note: This might be a really boring post for some of you. But for others, it might be really helpful. So I’m just throwing it out there in case it helps someone…

Today is the last day of September. You know what that means? Tomorrow is the first day of October. Which means… tomorrow we get new monies! Taha, not literally. But every first day of the month, I distribute a set amount of money from our main fund into each of our budgeting categories: Rent/Utilities, Car, Groceries, Eating Out, Missions, Gifts, Entertainment, Shopping, and Savings. I heart financial budgeting. I’m not saying it’s the only way (my parents never budgeted–they were just wise with their money, and it worked for them)… but it definitely works for us! And helps us–God knows how much money we would spend on shopping and food if we had no budget.

Maybe about a year ago, Steven & I went to Peter Lim’s house for a “financial seminar”, which included: a delicious home cooked meal with the Lim family, play time with the Lim girls, and a full-on powerpoint presentation and lecture on finances–everything from investing, buying and saving, all the way down to everyday budgeting. I can’t say that I remember everything he taught us, but I am so glad we went, because I finally got a budgeting system that worked & a template that I could use to get started.  It. Is. Most. Awesome.

This is the same system he’s used for his family since he & Jinny got married, and the same system he uses to record all of Lighthouse’s finances as the church treasurer (pretty cool, huh?). I posted a template of the excel sheet on my googledocs here. FYI, I used fake numbers to protect the privacy of… myself haha. The monthly distributions are similar to how I budgeted when I was single, so it’s obviously changed some since I got married. What I did was to basically break up my monthly paycheck into categories and try to set aside some money for savings every month. Each tab of my finance worksheet represents each category of my budget. From my main fund “HONG” (which wasn’t HONG at the time haha), I do monthly distributions into each category. I subtract that amount from my main fund and then add it into each respective category. If you click on “Rent”, you can see how checks are displayed. I wrote a check to Brenda Hom–my roommate and kind of landlord at the time–for $300 for rent (ahha, I know, what the cheap?). The first x in the “verify” column shows that I gave her the check, but she hasn’t deposited it yet. If you look right below for the check I wrote to the Gas Company, the two x’s show that I sent it to them & they deposited it. It’s a good way to keep track of all the checks you write and is a safeguard against overdrafting. If you click on the “Car” tab, you can see how credit card transactions are displayed. The first time I got gas, I paid with my VISA, and the x shows that it has appeared on my credit card statement. The second time, I paid with my American Express, but it has not shown up on my statement yet. This is also a great way to make sure that you don’t get billed (or over-billed) for something you didn’t purchase. I actually just found a false transaction on my credit card statement last month: $50-some at Freshia Market. BOFA has awesome customer service & gave me my monies back, but I never would have noticed it otherwise, since I shop at Freshia pretty regularly. Yay for my trusty dusty budget sheet! Lastly you can record cash transactions as well. If you look under the “Eating Out” tab, you can see that I put “CASH” for the lunch that Steven & I ate at Croutons. You don’t have to put the details about who you went with, but I like to. You know, just in cases.

That’s pretty much it. Easy peasy pie. It’s neat, cause if you want to save up to buy an expensive coat or something, you can refrain from shopping for a couple months & then have $150 in your shopping budget to make a large purchase. You don’t have to feel guilty about buying something expensive, because you know you have intentionally exercised self-control in order to purchase it. And it definitely helps us in our early years of marriage to feel freedom in eating out or buying something nice once in awhile, because our budget gives us that cushion & helps us to know how much we are saving as well. NEAT, huh. I’ve been using this for I guess exactly one year now, and I love love love it. Thanks Peter!

Along a similar vein, Steven is all about finding good deals and signing up to win free sweepstakes. I don’t think I ever signed up for any sweepstakes before I got married (or if I did, it was very rare). What are the odds that I’ll win? But my husband is an optimistic man, so I’ve been signing up for things left and right. And who knows–one day we just may win a free trip to Maui or Manhattan… But in the meantime, we are content with our small wins, one being a free $25 gift card to Champagne bakery! Pretty cool, huh? He found a photo contest on their fb page, saw that all of the entries were pretty whatevs, and pretty much forced me to go with him to our local Champagne’s to take photos. Here are a few photos from our excursion:

Champagne French Bakery

Champagne French Bakery

Playing with props

Playing with props

Steve really likes this photo he took of me. Interesting how he only likes the photos HE takes.

Steve really likes this photo he took of me. Interesting how he only likes the photos HE takes.

Contest-winning photo by Steven again. Obviously.

Contest-winning photo by Steven again. Obviously.

Raspberry topper from our black forest cake.

Raspberry topper from our black forest cake.

In front of our local Champagne's.

In front of our local Champagne's.

Too bright, but I love him laughing!

Too bright, but I love him laughing!

Yes, we wore cute clothes on purpose. Don’t you love that cardi on him? It took me forever to convince him that he looks good in cardigans. But he does–so charming!

Yikes man, I was supposed to go to the gym this morning… and now it’s almost time for lunch. Till next time :]

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4 Responses to “Budgeting & the Like.”

  1. Alice Says:

    DUDE Cathie i’m so glad you posted the finances thing! I’ve been trying to figure out a better way to keep track of transactions AND budgets but couldn’t figure out how to combine it into one excel template. I’d been meaning to ask Peter Lim about it too but never got around to it. Haha so this was super helpful! Thanks! =D Hope you’re doin welll =) I like all your pictures too, keep posting!

  2. Jules Says:

    Adorable post and I’d love it if you sent your file to me. It rocks! I hate the ones I have. :)

  3. Grace Wu Says:

    Not boring, Cat-hie. I’ve been reading frugality and budgeting blogs like Wisebread and The Simple Dollar. I likeeeeeee.

  4. Grace Wu Says:

    Oh and I also use Quicken to manage my spending.


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