Budgets — yes or no?

A lot of people in the PF world swear by budgets. They carefully track everything, alloting this percentage for an emergency fund, this much for food and groceries. Some people really need a budget tool to stay on top of their finances.

Me, I tend to keep all of those numbers in my head — a trait I’m sure I picked up from my accountant father. While I can’t do major math in my head like he can, adding and subtracting come easily. I know how much is in every bank account and 401(k), and I know how much we owe to credit cards.

Every two weeks, I balance the checkbook (I make regular entries to the registry, though), pay bills and push money into savings. Some weeks we spend more than others, especially toward the end of the month when the mortgage and utility bills roll in. But I always know how much we should be spending, and I faithfully stick to it. Incidentals do come up, but I keep a few hundred bucks open for these “incidentals” — for instance, Mr. Saver needs a new pair of sneakers, so we’re getting those on Saturday. But only because I have 30% off PLUS $10 toward purchase coupons for Kohl’s.

I suppose some people would look at my “method” as flying by the seat of my pants. Maybe I should give a budgeting tool a try. But then again, I know how much we can spend on food, entertainment and incidentals, and put toward our CC debt.

Some budgeting tools out there include Quicken Online and Mint.com. And J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy compiled a comprehensive list of budget templates from PF bloggers and websites, so check it out here.

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