Thursday, July 14, 2016

The budget email

Earlier this year I fell in love with the blog The Frugal Girl. Kristen, who writes it, is so upbeat and inspiring, she really encourages me to do better with our money.

In one of her older posts, she talks about a monthly money email that she sends her husband to let him know how their budget is tracking. I decided to follow her lead and put together a budget email that suits our situation.

I've always had every intention of sitting down with Paul and doing regular budget meetings, but they've only happened like twice, in our whole marriage.

A budget email suits us better because Paul can read it at his leisure and then we can talk about anything that stands out to us. No big deal.

I've done the budget email two months in a row now, and it's amazing how much better we are sticking to our budget because of it. After reading the first budget email, Paul began taking packed lunches to work whenever possible and this has saved us so much money over the past month. I have also been much more committed to sticking to our grocery budget, and am hitting it more often than not now.

It's so exciting to see the traction we have made in the past month, and I am looking forward to seeing where we are at after another month of this accountability.

The nitty gritty 
I write our budget email once a month, putting all our spending for that month into it organised by budget category. We already have a spreadsheet of our planned budget, so I refer to this and note whether we have over- or underspent on a particular budget category.

This is what goes into a typical budget email:

Current account balance

Credit card balance / Amount owing

Income (over last 30 days)

Total spent (over last 30 days)

Savings balance


House spending:
Mortgage payments
House & appliance repairs

Grocery spending (list where and how much cf budgeted amount)

Eating out / Coffee spending (list where and how much cf budgeted amount)

Entertainment spending ie. games and Netflix (list where and how much cf budgeted amount)

Communications spending (Internet and cell phones)

Health spending (ie. Dentist, Doctor - Actual cf budgeted)

Transport and travel spending (Actual cf budgeted)
WOF/Car insurance/Registration

Birthdays/ Celebration spending (Actual cf budgeted)

Clothes/ Hair spending (Actual cf budgeted)

Activities spending (Actual cf budgeted)

Upcoming big bills to save for

And that's it. Although it's a pretty simple idea, it does take a lot of time to put these emails together. It's definitely worth it for our family though, as proven by how it's helping us stick to our budget better.

How do you keep track of your spending? I'd love to read your tips in the comments. 


  1. I do something a little different, but I find it really helpful.

    In the end of every fortnight, I sit down with a computer and a notebook, and write down everything we've earned or bought over the last fortnight. (We only use debit cards to pay for things, so it's easy for me to just write everything down from our (shared) account's in/out lines.)

    Total income:

    Car & petrol:

    Total spending:

    Both me and my husband find it hard to "plan" spending, ie: only this much on groceries, only this much on petrol etc, because we never really know what exactly is going to happen. A car breaks down? Kids are ill and someone has to stay home? There's a super deal on buying contact lenses in bulk? And besides, because we don't shop for groceries on specific days then if there's several big shops within a fortnight, ie first on Monday and last on Sunday then it may be that one fortnight it's $530 in groceries and the next is $300. It just varies.

    But what we do instead, each fortnight as I write down what we've earned/spent, we look at it and get a feel for it. If we don't like how little savings there were, we discuss where we could limit our spending.

    Luckily both me and my husband are very frugal, so lack of "plan" for spending is not an issue for us - we rarely "waste" money on things we don't need. We're kind of like Swiss: if we're buying something, it's always in cash, so we've never had to put stuff on a credit card or finance because if we really needed something, there has been money in our bank account; and if there wasn't, we either found a way to go without or put it good effort to quickly find more ways to earn something.

    I've now done it for over 2 years, and every about 6 months I run the averages across that time to see what we're averaging every fortnight. And when I got to the end of my notebook last week, I used the last page to put those averages next to each other and see how our spending has changed from 2/2014 to 1/2015 to 2/2015 to 1/2016.

    And I find it very "doable". Even if I've been very busy and haven't done a fortnight, because my bank account still has all the information on it then I just do it later when I have time. And because it's an actual physical notebook then it's SO easy to leaf back and look through if I'm wanting to compare something.

  2. That sounds like a great system. I think mine still needs tweaking because some bills only come up annually or at random times. You've just given me an idea for how to tackle that though, so thank you!


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