Aug 4, 2007

Attempting to learn how to Budget with Beehive

Thanks to an anonymous poster for reminding me how I really need to start budgeting. After my little shopping trip to the local mall the other day, I realized just how little control I have over my spending. One of my biggest problems (and I know I'm fortunate to even have this problem) is that I have $20k+ in savings, so often I feel like even though I shouldn't be spending that money (I should be SAVING it for grad school or a house) - but it just feels like those bigger ticket items are so unreachable that I might as well just spend my money now. And I get such a rush buying clothes. Especially ones that I feel good about buying... when I feel like I've bought items that I'll wear again and again. It makes the endorphins kick in. Shopping is my drug. But it's an expensive habit. And I need to quit it.

In any case, I've decided to try to make a budget and to... hopefully... stick to it. There's no reason I can't get through a month on a monthly salary of about $3000. It's pathetic that I'm still losing money. Ok, so I haven't actually gotten through my first "full" month of work, so last month was just a mess financially anyway, with my time off between jobs and everything. In any case, I looked online to find some budgeting tools, and of course, I found a zillion. I picked one out at random...

Beehive basically helps you make your budget. I'm going through right now and filling in all of my income and expense information. This should help me see exactly how much money I have to use to budget per month.

I'm trying to estimate low for non-fixed income, since I'd rather end up with more money at the end of the year than less. When they asked how much I make per year in investments, I put down $200. I think my CDs probably take in about $300 per year, but the way my other investments... Roth IRA and Mutual Fund are doing, I'll be lucky if I break even this year.

Meanwhile, I'm estimating high on most expenses. I'm really confused on how to budget, but I guess ultimately if I put in $100 a month for clothing I NEED to stick to that.

Here's what I'm budgeting for non-fixed expenses...

(per month)

Clothing: $100 (um, can I really just spend $100 a month on clothing?) $200: I don't have to spend all $200, but I'd rather save some money for clothing each month and then go on a massive shopping spree, as opposed to only having $100 to spend.
Gasoline: $250 (it's been that high in the past few months because of all of my commuting for various reasons. In september, my gas costs should come down quite drastically, but it can't hurt to estimate high, right?
: $200. Should include alcohol costs. Because that's what adds up.
Beauty: $100. I figure between eyebrow/face waxing, and my occasional hair cut, beauty costs average out to about a hundred a month. Maybe I should estimate higher. Hmm.
Alcohol: $50. Here, I'll through in an extra $50 for those rare months when I actually have a social life.
Travel: $100. That'd get me to Hawaii in a year.


Now I'm entering in "Assets"

I'm confused as to how I should record my assets for my investments. Should I note how much I put into the funds, or how much currently exists in the funds? It doesn't look like there is a spot to track the funds, or to note how much its average earnings (or losses) are per year. Hmm.

I guess I'll put in what they're currently worth. It will make me less sad to start off with a smaller amount in my budget anyway. And I can kind of (try to) forget that thus far my investments have lost $400.


15 minutes later.


Ok, so I've decided "Beehive" sucks as a budget tool. I really wish there were an easy way to make a budget and track my finances.

One thing I don't like about Beehive is that when you're inputing your expenses for the month, it lumps all your "personal expenses" together. That includes everything from clothing to gasoline. What I really need is a breakdown of my "personal expenses" spending. I guess it's not a terrible idea to start thinking of it as a lump sum, because then I might be motivated to spend less on eating out in order to support my shopping addiction. But, still, I think it's important for me to break down my spending via category, and see where the money goes each month.

Meanwhile, I find it's really difficult to keep track of expenses that I am supposed to get reimbursed for at work. I feel like they should be counted separately, but I need to make sure to note that any future income that's actually reimbursement needs to cancel out.

Does anyone out there know of a good way to make (and keep) a budget? Help!


GradGirl said...

I just started budgeting last month, so I completely understand what you're going through. A lot of people gave great advice at my blog, but I ultimately chose Budget ( Download the free trial, and give it a go. (Hat tip: EM at

It's visually oriented, and it's super easy to understand.

BTW: I give myself like $250/month for clothes, and I usually have some left over. It helps me feel like I'm within the lines. :)

Anonymous said...

You might want to take a look at Pearbudget ( It's really just an Excel spreadsheet someone set up for budgeting. It's somewhat basic, but it is handy for tracking expenses and easy to modify for whatever categories of spending you want.

SF Money Musings said...

I use PearBudget and like it a lot. I enter my receipts for each category daily so I'm able to track how much left I have.

Mvelopes is something on his blog recommended. i tried it out during the 30-day trial and loved it but i feel weird about paying for budgeting software since pearbudget works. but mvelopes is very visually-oriented and once you enter all your financial accounts, you can setup money for different envelopes and track your progress.

Tanya said...

I really like PearBudget too! You can divide things however you want.

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Anonymous said...

Just a point for you (sorry, I can't help you with the budgeting spreadsheet). I was much less frugal before I met my husband. He is from a foreign country and was shocked by expensive restaurants and all the stuff we buy here.
Much later I found out that he has 200K in a savings account. I was already living more frugally, but now that I know we have 200K in the bank, I can start to visualize the interest compounding. 20K is a lot of money, and now is a great time to add to it. Keep in mind that credit would hurt you twice--both in the loss of income and in the interest payments. I'm pulling for you.

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