Saturday, September 08, 2012

On Budgeting

The best book I've ever read on budgeting is Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. It's a unique approach which basically says "Track everything you spend, and at the end of the month analyse whether you thought it was worthwhile". It's in the Wellington Central Library. Here's a big article about it:

If you're interested in a traditional approach to budgeting, I'd start by just really really roughly estimating income and expenses in a bunch of general categories (rent, bills, food, etc). Then, to get more detail, you can follow the steps in this article: Making a Budget (a first-timer's guide) and the tips in this article: Budgeting 101.

The Simple Dollar (which those two articles come from) is also a really good website to poke around in. There's a lot of information in there but it's also written in a very accessible way, and it regularly links to other websites and articles.

If the situation is really urgent, I've heard good things about (but haven't read) Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover (which is in the library as well). Here's the first part of a really extensive review, and this post has a links to all the other parts of that review.

And there's as well.

Basically, books on budgeting usually have a lot of shared messages in them: the trick is to find an author who makes sense to you.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Thanks Steve... I tracked everything I spent for a few months a while ago when you suggested and it really did help me realise where I could still make savings. I'm one of the lucky ones. I earn sufficient that with careful budgeting I can live within my means, and now my credit card is almost paid off, I might even be able to accumulate a reserve...

One of the things that is bothering me at the moment is that budgeting is often touted as the panacea for families in poverty... It worries me when articles on budget don't acknowledge the possibility that someone's income is simply not adequate even to provide the basics such as shelter, food, power, heat, clothing... And that they may have no legal means of getting more money. I just read this and it made me angry and sad... Sometimes focussing on budgeting seems to me like another form of victim-blaming. Certainly when I was seriously in debt, guilt contributed to my paralysis (which your advice and suggestions for things to read helped counter)