We have tried thousands (ok a little exaggeration) of methods for keeping up with our budget yet still somehow continuously overspend each month and cannot figure out why. This week we decided to put it all down on paper and just see exactly WHAT THE DEAL IS. Patrick printed out all of our monthly statements (we rarely use cash...this could be our problem, I know. All you Dave Ramsey folks out there can stop muttering to yourselves now.) We went through line by line and categorized EVERYTHING. This was exhausting.
Finally, we settled on a new system that will hopefully work for us in the near (VERY near) future. We decided to use PearBudget, which allows you to make as many different categories as humanly possible (ok, we even made a coffee category. We are insane, I know. That is a whole other post topic.) Then you enter your anticipated monthly income. Then, it tells you how much you are over or under budget in your plans. It then allows you to play around with the numbers (if you are over, which, of course, we were) to get things more in line. Everyday you enter any receipts, designating the category. My FAVORITE part about this program though is that it allows you to print "GoCards" which are quick little print outs of available balances in each category. Hopefully when I see that I only have $51.62 left for groceries that month I WILL ACTUALLY STOP MYSELF AND NOT SPEND $23043.87 AT THE GROCERY STORE (again, slight exaggeration but you get the point). Anyways, this is the plan-the new plan-as of this moment.
I will let you know at the end of the month how it all comes out. (Unless of course I'm extremely embarassed about my huge addiction to spending money. If you don't hear from me, you'll know what happened...)