Back to the Basics of Budgeting: November 2009

by Shawanda Greene

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Unlike a distant retirement, world travel is actually something to get excited about. If I want to begin the realization of this dream in the near future, I’d better get a bit more serious.

Lately, I’ve viewed my budget more as a way to track past expenses than as a tool to plan future spending. Which sort of dilutes its power. I’m far beyond the stage of wondering where my money went. I know exactly where it goes thanks to Mint. The question I’m asking myself is “was my money spent on what will bring me the greatest level of satisfaction?”

So, here I am – going back to the basics of budgeting. The weekly menu plan was just the beginning. If you’ve never tried budgeting, I encourage you to do so. You’ll likely find that if you write down where your money goes as you spend it, you’re more likely to stay on track. It’s like the budget is your accountability partner.

After updating the expense categories in Mint, I discovered I spent $761 on food and alcohol in October. That doesn’t even include cash spent at the Halal cart outside my office. Of all the things I spend money on, this is where I am able and willing to cut the most.

If I’m diligent about recording expenses as I incur them, I’m confident I’ll be able to stick to the monthly budget I’ve outlined.


Normally, I’d do a zero-based budget which basically means every dollar has purpose. At the top of the budget would be my cash inflows. Cash outflows (including money directed to savings and retirement) would equal cash inflows.

Yes. That would normally be the case, but I can’t tell y’all all my bidness.

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