How Good Budget Changed our Finances

Last January, Jesse and I made a commitment to start tracking all of our expenses. We had tried several times before but would stick with it for just a few months. This time, I knew we had to get serious about it if we wanted to meet our financial goals.  We downloaded my favorite budgeting app, Good Budget. It follows the same premise as Dave Ramsey's envelope system but it uses electronic envelopes instead of cash. Die-hard Ramsey followers will argue that using a debit card goes against everything Dave teaches and they are right. We just prefer not to carry all of that cash around and found a way that works for our family. We still track every dollar spent but we just do it in a way that is best for us. 

Anyway, I am proud to say that we have stayed committed to tracking our expenses and I believe that it is the reason we have been able to remain debt free, build up our savings, and still do fun things as a family. After trying several different apps and budgeting systems over the years, I have to say that Good Budget is my favorite by far.
Photo: Good Budget

It's easy to set up and use and I love that I can access it from my computer and my phone. The free version allows you to create up to 10 envelopes and you can sync between all of your devices. If you want more envelopes you can pay for a monthly subscription that I believe is reasonably priced. But for the sake of simplicity, I stuck to the free version and divided our envelopes into the following categories:

I refill our envelopes twice a month when Jesse gets paid. All of the envelopes stay the same each time except for the bills envelope. At the beginning of each month I write down all of our bills in a cheap calendar from the Target dollar spot. Then at the beginning of each pay period I add up our bills for those two weeks and allocate that much money to the bills envelope.  This envelope includes our childcare expenses, mortgage, utilities, phones, internet and charitable giving. This month it also included the home repairs we needed to make in order to sell the house so it was definitely our biggest category.  All of our bills are automatically drafted so I just deduct them from the bills envelope as they come out.

You can see that groceries is one of our bigger expenses. When I shop at Aldi I usually don't deplete the envelope but I have been using Wal-Mart grocery pick up lately and it is definitely more expensive. I think we could probably do better at saving money on groceries but at this point I'm just happy if we have groceries. :)

The envelopes with our names contain our monthly spending money. Each envelope gets filled each pay period. We use these envelopes for lunches out, shopping, and whatever else we might want or need. This is the one envelope where we each have free reign on what we spend our money on as long at is within our budgeted amount. I've been known to save mine for mini shopping sprees. :)

The girls envelope gets a small amount each month to cover gymnastics, shoes and clothing and anything they might need for school.

Our fun envelope is what we use for eating out, family activities, date nights and other entertainment. On Friday we used some of it for a family date night at the movies. (If you haven't seen Coco, go now!)
The misc envelope is for miscellaneous expenses as they come up. This can be things like auto registration, birthday gifts, etc.  I know some people like to create separate envelopes for these types of expense but I knew I needed to keep it simple if we were going to stick to it for the long run.

I allocate our savings for the month in the savings envelope before  I transfer it over it to our savings account and deducting it in the envelope. In 2018, I'm going to eliminate this envelope and have the money go directly into savings. I also plan to divide our savings into categories for specific things like vacations and our future forever home. I haven't worked out exactly how I'll do this so if you have ideas I'd love to hear them!

At the end of each pay period, whatever is left in an envelope just carries over to the next period. I have also been known to transfer funds between one envelope to another if needed. When this happens, I know that I need to reexamine how much I'm putting in those envelopes and possibly adjust it the next month. In a true envelope budget, you are not supposed to move money from one envelope to another. At the end of the day, I'm happy that we stayed within our budget even if one envelope was underfunded. I feel that as long as I take a closer look at it when the month is over and adjust it, occasional transfers are ok.

Good Budget does allow you to sync with your checking accounts to download transactions but I prefer to enter our transactions manually. I feel that it keeps me more aware of how/where we are spending. It's also helpful that you can split transactions among envelopes. This is the best when I go to Target because I usually spend from more than one envelope. :) I also love the reports feature. I can easily see how many transactions and how much we've spent in each category in a certain time period. 

I feel like Good Budget has allowed us to finally get into the habit of truly budgeting and tracking all of our expenses. Because of it's ease of use I think it's something we will always keep up with.  They also have tons of free user guides that explain how to set up a budget and use their features. I would start here if you want to give Good Budget a try. If you have any questions about how we budget, please leave them in the comments or message me. Budgeting really can be fun and doesn't have to be nearly as complicated as it seems!

*This post is not sponsored in any way. I just wanted to share something that has worked for us so that it can hopefully help someone else. :)
April said...

Going to check that out! Dave has the Everydollar app but we've not tried it yet. We just do our budget on a large spreadsheet and we still keep some physical cash envelopes but I would like to stop doing that. I am like you though, I don't want it syncing with my checking account. I want to be able to input manually like we do our spreadsheet. We should be debt free and have our ER fund by the end of this year!!

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