So now I’m feeling like a failure, but if you know me I’m not giving up. The experts say do a budget, so I move to method two, spreadsheets. I searched my software and found a few. Wow, they look so organized and some had pretty graphs, ohhh ahhh. But wait, there’s like 64 categories and it’s only for a month. To make the budget work I need to forecast out at least 3 months. My first thought was to retrofit it. I stopped myself, thank goodness. No pretty, impressive budget for me. I moved on to the yearly sheet. The one I selected had 63 categories. Why? So now I’m going through the categories and most I don’t need. I don’t have a pet so I don’t need a dog walker category. I pay my Netflix and gym membership under my visa card so I don’t need a category for those. Don’t know why in the world internet connection, religious organizations, and charities all fall under Dues and Subscriptions? By now I’ve been at this for over 3 hours, so I just start plugging in numbers. Now I’m spending more time just looking for the categories to use. After an hour of this foolishness I had to admit I was continuing to make a rookie mistake. I had form over substance. It looked great but I was never going to maintain that thing. I don’t need a form with 63 categories! When I sat back and thought about it, I realized the budget I had was fine, because it worked for me.

It doesn’t matter how much it costs or how fancy it looks, your budget has to be something that makes sense to you. If you’re spending hours on your budget every month you probably have form over substance. Start with the sheet you create every month to pay your bills and build from there.