We just had our budget meeting for May. A little later than usual, but still in the first week so that's good. This month was a breeze compared to last month. April had some growing pains in it, but it was definitely worth it.
We started budgeting in January 2013, using Mint.com to set-up different categories and allocate our spending. What we didn't have during January, February and March was "fun" or "blow" money as people out in the blogosphere like to call it. We had categories for shopping, entertainment and restaurants which probably encompass most of our normal "fun" money type expenses. Well, those plus travel, especially for me and all my game conventions!
In April, Jason specifically asked for a category that would be his own so that he knew exactly how much he could spend rather than having a nebulous amount in the aforementioned categories. So, we picked an amount and I set-up two new categories in Mint: "Jason Fun" and "Stephanie Fun"! We have equal amounts to spend on whatever we want. We also have the amount carry over from month-to-month so that if we don't spend the full month's worth, the surplus will roll over to the next month (and vice versa).
For April, we both finished with a surplus, mainly due to birthday presents from his family that we didn't deposit into our bank accounts until April.
I had kind of resisted the idea, but I'm glad we did it. It helps remind me that I have money that I can actually spend! I tend to spend money in mini-sprees. I'll hit up a few places all in one week and then chill on spending (other than groceries and eating out) for the next few weeks. So knowing that there's this amount in the budget that I can spend is kind of liberating. It's also nice because I don't feel guilty about spending it. I know it's an agreed to amount in the budget, so it's not like I'm spending money we don't have!
I think he likes it too because he can buy his video games or books or whatever else and not have to worry that I'm going to be upset that he's spending all the money and I'm not. I was getting upset about him spending our "restaurant" money on going out with his friends, so now that comes out of his fun money, so that avoids all arguments. And I can go out for my BFF lunch with Shane and not worry about Jason being upset that I spent $50 on lunch. It's a win-win!
Overall, I've been actually enjoying the budgeting. It's a little weird, I know, but it's nice to talk about it actively, instead of just sort of talking about it whenever a problem comes up. I like that we're on the same page. We both know exactly how much is coming in and going out and where it's going. It prompts discussion about the future, both short-term and longer.
Next up: Should I roll over my 401(k) to Vanguard?