pear budget

when i started this blog i envisioned it to be primarily about food; the places i ate out at and the things i made, plus the recipes that excite me. sort of like a cross between the girl who ate everything, smitten kitchen, and design sponge(but for food). but, as i'm thinking of blog posts, i realize that i have other things i want to share about besides food. and other than the occasional "things to do", i mostly want to share about money.

money is not a topic that most people outside of the profession of finance want to talk about, and it is not something that a twenty-something liberal arts major non-profiteer usually wants to talk about either. but, BUT- (and here's the super secret) it is one of the most important tools you will ever have in your life, and the sooner you figure out how to use it and make it work for you, the easier everything else will be. i am only saying this because i was the last person on earth to take up the "suze orman" cause- until i realized the ramifications it could and WOULD have on my life. at some point i'm sure i'll share my story from bumbling checkbook balancer to super anal budgeter, but that's not for now.

so, i'll be sharing personal finance tips from time to time. take what works for you and don't worry about the rest.

here's #1:

easy budgeting

budgeting is such a dirty word to some people- it evokes denying yourself things you really want. i've heard it be compared to dieting over and over again. i guess it is a little like dieting, in that it can be crazy "grapefruit and cottage cheese" strict, or it can be "changing the way you think about food" flexible. i'm of the second opinion.

budgeting helps you change the way you think about money.

think about it: before budgeting, you didn't know how much money you had in your bank account, you didn't know how much you were going to need for the month, and inevitably there were times when you got that little slip from the ATM and went "huh? why is my balance so low/high?"

once you begin to budget, things start to make a lot more sense. before i started seriously budgeting, i was always wondering where all my money went- i don't buy clothes, i don't drink, i'm not a book/music junkie. but, as this blog is a testament, i love to eat. i didn't realize exactly how much that was costing me and when i did- oh wow. wow. i had to seriously re-think the way i eat out/cook.

you're in luck. the old school (and cheap) style of budgeting required you to be pretty savvy in excel (luckily something i do in my day job). or you could go the more expensive route and buy quicken or MS money. however, i just recently found a great web-based tool that has become my new budgeting partner: PearBudget .

think of it as budgeting 2.0- a free service (while it is still in beta, at least) where you can upload all your receipts and compare them to your budget. for the first few months, when you still don't really understand where your money goes, your preliminary budget will be way off, but as you continue to track all your expenses, you'll start to see patterns. budgeting is not like dieting in this way- you can't know what to spend your money on without first knowing where you spend your money, while in dieting someone can just tell you what you should eat. you're going to first need to track all your expenses. i teach a personal finance class and i always tell people to keep a little plastic bag in their purse/coat pocket (winter is the best time to try this out!) and stuff all their receipts into it- then, at the end of the week, you can enter it all into PearBudget. it is amazing what you find out about yourself- i already knew i ate a lot, but this really confirmed it!
jen said...

Hey lady,

Where's the korean chicken that REVOLUTIONIZED YOUR LIFE?!

Speaking of REVOLUTIONING ONE'S LIFE, you've inspired me to start a budget! Will you help me?

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