Day 7: Create a Budget

7 Sep

“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.” George W. Bush

California's 2010 state budget spiraled out of control - almost taking Arnold with it. Be stronger than Arnold, stick to your budget.

Today’s Mission: Create a budget.  A man is always in control of himself. He’s in charge. But when you don’t have a budget, your money controls you, instead of the other way around. You want to be the man with a plan, not the man floating along with his head in the clouds.

If you don’t keep a budget, you’re inevitably going to run into a situation where you don’t have a clue about how much money you have in your account. Not knowing how much money you have at your disposal can create a lot of unneeded stress.

Knowing exactly where your money is going increases your confidence. I think it has something to do with the feeling of control a budget gives you.  Plus, having a budget can help you make decisions faster and more confidently. Instead of hemming and hawing over every single purchase you make, you can just look at your budget, see if you have money available for it, and make your decision. (via the Art of Manliness)

Well it has been a hell of party around here during the the past seven days – full of resume writin’, shoe shinin’ and ball checkin’- and I’m about to throw the fun switch wide open with budget calculatin’.  Nobody said this project was going to be easy, but at least this mission will make me a richer man.  You too.

Right now budgeting for the modern man is easier than any period in recorded history.  Why?  Free, secure web technology.  Mint.com is to modern man what the wheel was to our (hairier) ancestors.  Mint takes 3/4 of the pain, time, and number crunching completely out of the process. It is the most useful web 2.0 site I’ve ever used.

Mint safely connects to all your bank accounts, investments, credit cards, debit cards, loans, etc.  It tracks all transactions, categorizes them, and presents up to the minute data on your entire financial portfolio.  Think of it as a simpler, automatic (free) Quicken.  Mint also has built in budget controls that allows you to set individual spending goals, set alerts for overspending, and view your  spending trends versus the rest of the country.  It is the bee’s knees.

"Uga Buggah, Mint!" This guy uses wheels and Mint.com. Now he's the richest man in Caveman City.

The only cavet for using Mint for budgeting is that it can’t automatically track your first-person cash transactions.  I use my credit card for almost all my transactions (to get points and also for budget tracking), so this is not a problem for me.

Random Personal Spending Stats for 2010 YTD

$163.22 average for groceries per month.
$8.93 average for Dunkin Donuts per month.
$42.35 spent on Pizza in August (might explain low grocery bill)

The most useful feature of Mint for me is its ability to show how much I spend on a particular type of recurring, variable expense (ex. All restaurants, or just meals at ‘Subway’).  This makes it easier to trim my unnecessary expenses.  No man (caveman or otherwise) should be spending $387.52 at Dunkin Donuts for FY 2009 – I’ve spent $80.37 in FY 2010.  Now, get budgeting!

Full Mission Brief:
Create a Budget
(from the Art of Manliness)

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One Response to “Day 7: Create a Budget”

  1. Wyana September 18, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    I have to make a budget too. Something I’ve been trying to do for the last four months. LITERALLY.

    Knowing your doing the same thing makes it a little easier to tackle! Thanks for the mint.com suggestion. I’m going to check it out!!

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