The philosophy behind this #
Your money is not going to take care of itself. If you’ve tried Mint or any of those other finance apps, you’ve probably seen this.
Those apps try to take away the chore of budgeting by automating everything, but the hard truth is you need to be (at least a little bit) hands-on with your spending in order to manage it. Otherwise, it doesn’t do any good to receive an email at the end of every month telling you that you spent too much eating out. You need to see that throughout the month and adjust before you go over your target.
In fact, there’s only one finance app I’d recommend to people: YNAB. Their approach makes a lot of sense, but I don’t think you need to pay for an app to do it. That’s why I created this spreadsheet for myself in the first place. It’s on Google Sheets, so I can access it online and share access with my wife.
Here are the key points:
- Allocate your available money to budget categories (bills, groceries, etc).
- It’s ok if things don’t go according to plan; adjust the budget mid-month how you need.
- Live off last month’s income, so you’re not thrown off if your paycheck falls on a weird day of the month.
- Set aside money ahead of time for vacations, car repair, or holiday spending — this system is designed to handle those irregular, big expenses.
If you want more fancy marketing jargon and colorful images behind this, check out YNAB’s four rules. I completely endorse them.
I do not dictate how you budget your money, nor which accounts you use to make purchases. Use your debit card or earn fly miles or just withdraw cash — use what works for you.