Apparently I am a pretty crappy communicator. Yesterday’s post left a bunch of you asking “Why is there no entertainment section in your budget?”. Pretty valid question, seeing that I didn’t account for fun, vacations, or household supplies in our budget. Did I forget to include this stuff? Nope. I just do things a little differently.

Since I severely sucked at explaining the budget yesterday, I thought I’d do my best to make it clearer today. Take a look…

Does the infographic help clarify things? It’s important to remember that budgets come in all shapes and sizes, so I’m sure mine looks way different than yours. In fact, J Money has compiled a ton of different budget templates, so you can use the one that best suits you.

Alright, on to the question “Why don’t I account for tampons sponges, clothes, and movies?” The answer is simple. I don’t want to. Hah! How’s that for straightforward? Everything I included in our “expenses” category has little month-to-month variation and is a necessity. Our income MUST ALWAYS exceed these expenses, ’cause if it doesn’t, we are going to have serious financial issues.

The very bottom section of the budget is titled “Left over”. This money then becomes our discretionary income. We can do with it what we want. Referencing the example above, we should have about $2,000 after all of our bills are paid. This money will be broken down to pay for things like haircuts, sunglasses, weekend trips, gifts as well as to save for things like a home, a car, and new furniture.

I personally HATE the idea of having a line item in my budget for “household supplies”, “entertainment”, or “vacations”. These costs are not fixed and can vary greatly from month to month. Instead of making guesses for each variable expense, I much prefer putting all $2,000 of discretionary income in to my savings account and then take when needed.

I realize many of you probably HATE that I don’t budget for all the same categories you do, but this is how I’ve always done things (Girl Ninja is on board with this plan as well) and I don’t think anyone would say I’m a reckless spender. We are both natural savers and understand every dollar we spend, means one less dollar we have in the bank. Our frugality allows us to live outside of a spreadsheet. Maybe this makes me a budget hypocrite, but I don’t really care. In my defense, however, I religiously check Quicken to make sure I’m spending reasonable amounts in each variable category (ie electronics, gifts, toiletries, etc). Did you really think I would not keep a watchful eye on our money?

A few other things to note from yesterday’s post.

Many of you recommended Girl Ninja seek out part time employment, in the evenings, to help stabilize her income a little bit. This is probably because I said we would  “scrape by” if she only subbed 2 days out of the month. What I failed to make clear, was the odds of that happening are virtually zero. Over the last 45 school days, she has been able to work all 45 of them. Basically I was being a big drama queen yesterday, and probably made it sound like Girl Ninja will be unemployed, when that really isn’t the case. My apologies for any confusion. Plus, if she picked up part-time night work, that means I would be home alone at night, which is NOT COOL in my book. How the heck would Operation Make-Baby-Ninjas ever come in to the picture if our schedules were opposite?

Another common theme across yesterday’s comments, was the recommendation to decrease tithing until we get a better handle on our financial situation. Again, solid advice, but not really our style. We both share the belief that tithing needs to be something that we do every month. And for us that means 10% of our income. This means before we do ANYTHING with our money (including contribute to retirement or pay rent) we commit 10% to our church. I know many of you will think that’s crazy, or possibly even that we are weird Jesus freaks, but it’s a personal decision we BOTH made and are excited about. (Remember, it’s called personal finance for a reason).

It seems that I totally blew it yesterday and failed to bring my main concern to light. My primary motivation for yesterday’s post was to ask “How do you budget with a variable income?”. I received a bunch of great suggestions on how to increase our income (GN part time work) or decrease expenses (find a cheaper apartment or tithe less), but what I really want to know is How do those with a variable budget navigate life? What’s the secret?

If I confused the crap out of you (figuratively and literally) again today, let’s just pretend these last two posts didn’t happen and we can start with a clean slate for tomorrow’s post… deal?

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