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Old 01-24-2023, 03:10 PM   #21
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While I do not budget using the textbook definitions of the term, I have for more than 20 years tracked our spending. Looking at historical monthly/annual expenses by category, each December I create a spreadsheet outlining the monthly anticipated expenses in each category for the upcoming year.

This allows me to be sure I have the required funds on hand to pay not only the routine monthly bills, but for lump-sum annual payments for expenses like property taxes and long term care insurance. It also allows me to look at trends by expense category and, over the years, see how our spending has changed due to factors like technology (no more satellite TV or land line phone) and age/health (no more chainsaws, extension ladders or RVs).

It also creates an excellent record of major purchases, repairs and other large expenditures to answer the "when did we buy/do that"?
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Old 01-24-2023, 03:26 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ShokWaveRider View Post
I do track our spending, but we do not budget, we buy what we want and what we need when we want or need it. Retirement if well planned is not about counting the dollars. It is about doing what one wants when one wants to do it.
+1. Us as well. What we find interesting is that, with rare exceptions, we spend just about the same amount each year but just on different things.
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Old 01-24-2023, 03:49 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by PaunchyPirate View Post
I do not create a budget. But I do meticulously track my spending into categories.
+1

Spouse and I are frugal by nature, and always had more than enough income, so never really had a budget.

Heading into retirement, we started monitoring our spending via mint. At the end of the year, we total things up to see how/if they have changed from what we expected.
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Old 01-24-2023, 03:52 PM   #24
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I have a budget, but I don't really adhere to it. It's more just to show me how much my required expenses are plus what I have left to save or for discretionary spending. I try to keep those required expenses in the budget very close to what those expenses actually are. I don't budget saving or discretionary - that's just the amount left over at the bottom, which I mostly save.
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Old 01-24-2023, 04:04 PM   #25
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No budget per se. I have a monthly generous "allowance" for myself from savings and live within it. I always know exactly how much is in my account. I'm single, and that helps. It is simple. If I spend too much in the beginning of the month, I stop spending until the next month rolls around. I also have a separate annual travel "allowance."
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Old 01-24-2023, 04:07 PM   #26
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A few years ago, we budgeted intensely. For more discretionary accounts, we pulled cash out weekly from bank in specified denomination and then, into envelopes that we each managed.

Therefore, if we had cash in envelope, we could spend. That included a personal spending account for each. We would commonly pool our spending money if we ran out of cash from a specific account.

If we had unexpected issues, we’d decide where to pull it out from other accounts.

It was very strict. But, we had a goal of getting to X dollars saved, and getting out of debt, etc

Now that we hit those, we have relaxed, a little. We’ll use debit card - track how spending and then adjust behavior or plan if going/went over. Perhaps cut vacation, change a project from contracted out to DIY, cut streaming or other discretionary items to compensate, etc.

We have not had the flip side yet (went under expenses)

We have a large, “capital” account for large projects that we can adjust as well.

We set an annual budget, and have a target, but will adjust with market conditions. We also have some longer term sinking fund accounts.

We actually feel better with these controls, it actually provides a sense of financial peace - as we know we have a plan, and we will make it happen.

Retiring at 51, with no pensions, just our own savings has caused us to be initially more conservative in our annual spending budget plan.
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Old 01-24-2023, 04:08 PM   #27
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I do have a detailed budget with many line items. Love numbers and like keeping track of stuff like expenses.
If I am near the YTD number for an individual line item, I won't change my spending per se, but am aware of it as it relates to overall spending and next years' budget.
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Old 01-24-2023, 04:16 PM   #28
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I track our spending to stay on course. The categories are broad and easy, like utilities, credit card (which captures almost everything). We buy what we want, travel, etc. I have yet to hit our max allocated for a year.
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Old 01-24-2023, 05:40 PM   #29
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I've kept a monthly budget for years with the exception of the occasional months when life gets the best of me and I can't keep up with recording expenses. Some categories are pretty specific, such as IRA deposits, car insurance, house insurance, house taxes. I break those yearly bills down into 12 monthly amounts and I round up to the nearest 5$ amount just to make things easier. Other categories such as groceries and eating out can borrow from one another depending on how often I get together with friends vs eating at home and so forth. I also have multiple sinking fund items such as landscaping and home maintenance. I'm not rigid and things sometimes come up unexpectedly, but I like that it gives me a sense of where my money is going.
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Old 01-24-2023, 06:33 PM   #30
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I have always budgeted and recorded expenses. I like doing it and keeps me on track.
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Old 01-24-2023, 07:06 PM   #31
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We have never really budgeted or kept track. Most everything goes through our checking account or credit cards, so I can look at those if I want to look something up.

I have started tracking amounts spent in the past, but I do not keep up with it.
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Old 01-24-2023, 07:45 PM   #32
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We have tracked spending v budget for as long as I can remember. Helps that I’ve always been a spreadsheet nerd.

We’ve always LBYM (I’m naturally frugal, DW even more so lucky me), so we had the luxury of reining in spending or upping our budget - but that does not mean we just resorted to upping our budget. While we were working, we tried to rein in spending first, only upping the budget as a last resort. We honestly got much more satisfaction from how much we were saving and watching our net worth grow versus what we spent - we saved mind boggling amounts, over 70% of income in our best year. We’ve never been driven by fancier homes-cars-vacations-stuff, but we haven’t deprived ourselves either.

So budgets have always been a very helpful discipline for us, wouldn’t have ER’d otherwise. We still track detailed spending v budget every month, just a lifelong habit now. Fortunately our NW has doubled since I retired over 11 years ago, so we’re cautiously trying to increase spending - admittedly first world problems.

If budgets don’t work for you, fine. They’ve been crucial for our financial plans.
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Old 01-24-2023, 09:05 PM   #33
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I never really had a formal budget and I haven't tracked my spending since I retired over a decade ago. I do look at my NW on an annual basis but that's about it. No sense in making a budget or tracking where my money goes, since I know I'm not going to change my spending habits.
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Old 01-25-2023, 01:25 AM   #34
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I enjoy making multiple budgets and spreadsheets for overall spending plus a few by category as well as tracking my spending. I like looking for bargains and playing beat the budget. I track all my spending and bargains each month. Like this month so far I have made or saved around $400 from using coupons, rewards points, gift cards, free meals on your birthday, happy hour specials, etc. I've also lowered the overhead in the annual budget by $120 from cutting out a couple of memberships we weren't using. I'm thinking about buying a state parks pass with the money instead. Free entry into 112 parks and beaches for $125 a year seems like a good deal. I enjoy going over our numbers and optimizing all our expenses that way.
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Old 01-25-2023, 03:07 AM   #35
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I'm ten years retired and have decent retirement income without having to withdraw from investments. I don't budget, never have.
I probably could have flown business class here to Australia but I didn't. Cuz I'm frugal ...
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Old 01-25-2023, 07:33 AM   #36
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During our accumulation years we never budgeted: just had automatic deductions to 401ks from our paychecks. And increased the amount I invested each year at my annual salary increase. We always paid off the monthly credit card bill and then spent the rest.
I do track spending because I need a reason to use Excel.
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Old 01-25-2023, 10:01 AM   #37
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We have a budget, it's primary purpose is to illustrate categorically where we are spending our money and act as a reminder/motivator to price shop a regular expense that is rising more than expected or that seems to be gouging us.

Our budget is less than our SS/div/int income and it's nice to see what the "cushion" is. Brings a certain peace of mind that we aren't living on the edge!!
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Old 01-25-2023, 11:11 AM   #38
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I'm up to 7 years of spending data for my own analysis. I pass on the cliff notes to DW as she really doesn't care much about the details. I like the yoy comparisons and the only things that move the needle are travel & remodeling. Everything else is pretty standard, every year.

We went up 11% mainly due to travel and possibly food inflation in 2022. 2021 & 2020 were identical.

We are such creatures of habit who like to eat good and cook our own... Everything else is "as needed".
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Old 01-25-2023, 11:15 AM   #39
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When we first started out, we had a budget. 24 of the 26 paydays in any year were used for anticipated expenses. The other 2 were for BTD money. Now, I don't have a budget per se. I do make an annual plan. At the end of the year, I do a rough check with money deposited into the checkbook via DD or by transfers to see if the year's planned expenses were close to being in-line with actual spent money. All outgoing money goes thru the checkbook account. As long as we are close, tracking where each dollar was spent is too much like work.
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Old 01-25-2023, 12:22 PM   #40
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I do budget. Some things are tracked yearly (travel, auto, medical, etc.), but grocery/living expenses like toiletry are kept track of weekly. Before I retired, I got really good with my spending, so I started keeping track of groceries/living expenses monthly instead of weekly and my expenses went up by a lot, so I went back to keeping track of groceries, etc. weekly again, and I am still doing that. This keeps my spending in check.
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