My No-Budget Guide to Personal Finance: Part 2, Weekly Habits

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In part 1 of my no-budget guide to personal finance, I mentioned that we spend money from 2 joint accounts (one checking and one credit) and have a number of investment accounts where our extra money lives.  We keep track of the comings and goings of our doll-hairs through the use of an app called CheckBook and a custom spreadsheet.  

So now that things are all set up, it's time to start paying attention to where the money is going.

Expense Tracking

As the month goes along and the doll-hairs come in and out of accounts (in accordance with our habits and beliefs, see below) we need to keep up with categorizing this stuff. Here's how I do it:

  1. Login to the Chase account on my tablet.
  2. Open CheckBook on my phone.
  3. Manually enter and categorize the new cleared transactions from the bank (checking and credit) into CheckBook.
  4. Verify that the account balances in CheckBook match the bank's (throw a little tantrum if they don't, then fix it).
  5. Backup the CheckBook app.
  6. Wash, rinse, repeat every few days.

If I allow too much time to go between entering transactions, this chore can be a bitch.  If I do it a couple of times every week, easy peasy.

Apparently, attaching new habits to things you already do is helpful.  If you're a fancy pants psychologist you might call this habit stacking.  

Everyday I drink coffee... some days I drink coffee and enter transactions for a couple of minutes.  This is simple, but this is not everything...

Habits & Beliefs Matter

You should know that this whole non-budget thing works for us because we've spent many years already doing the work of analyzing our lives and expenses and have developed habits that make our spending predictable.  For example, I don't agonize over whether I should buy the chicken or the hand-fed, garage kept beef this week because I know which one my routine meal plans will allow for... chicken.

Here are some of the habits and beliefs that have allowed us to get to this point:

  • We question everything.  Before buying, after buying, we ask.... Are we continuing to make choices that reflect our values?
  • We don't play games, nor try to manipulate. No expenses are hidden from one another.
  • Saving money on something DOES NOT mean we can spend it on something else.
  • We plan meals.  And I (try to) keep some freezer meals stocked for our busier times.  We work very hard to stay out of restaurants.
  • Most "out of the norm" expenses are throughly researched and discussed thus giving us the time and space to decide if our values are being considered.
  • We tell all marketing (including the Jonses)... "go screw yourself."  Billions of dollars are spent every year on market research trying to get products onto our screens and inside of our heads and homes. I will not be swayed!!
  • And of course as noted above, once or twice every week I log and categorize our expenses.

Okay, so now we have the accounts, the custom spreadsheet, and the CheckBook app set up.  Every week we are using our established values and habits when making purchasing decisions.  Next up in part 3 of my no-budget strategy...our monthly summary and discussion with a FREE spreadsheet download!