My wife and I have been working on successful budgeting for our 7 years of marriage and for most of those years we failed. We started using Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) a little over a year ago which gave us a good start. Luckily we started this during physical therapy school because now that we have student loan payments every month we know where were at financially.
When we started budgeting my wife would make a monthly budget, I would not follow it, she would get frustrated, and then we would start the process over the next month. This was the worst possible system! Then we got on the FPU budget and had budget meeting every couple of weeks. Now more recently we have started using the manual Personal Finances for Self-Reliance (Free online) created by the LDS church. We are now doing a weekly budget where we crunch the numbers for our weekly needs. We have found our families financial needs change every week so why would we do a monthly budget when our budget needs to be more dynamic than that. Along with this weekly budget we have a very short (5 minute) nightly budget meeting where we look at our expenses from the day and minus them off of the available balance for the weekly budget.
For example, we budget $125 for groceries per week if on Tuesday we spent $22 we would plug into our budget that we have $103 for the rest of that budget cycle. We keep track of what we have spent every day. Yes, that is correct a DAILY budget meeting.
It seems like we spend a lot of time budgeting but money is involved in every aspect of life (whether you like it or not) so why wouldn't we dedicate a lot of time to this endeavor. We have found by assigning our money where to go, we end up spending less on things we didn't actually want. We no longer look at our debt card statement and wonder where all the money went. We use to find ourselves saying "what in the world did we buy for $68.73 at Wal-mart!?" Not only do we know what our money is buying, we tell it what to buy.
PT school is expensive and the loans add up quickly so wherever your are in the process (pre-PT, SPT, or a DPT) start now.
Please leave your budget experiences or advice in the comment section below. Share what has worked or has not worked!