Do you guys have a budget planned for every month, and do you stick with it? What's your take on budgets and so on? How do you manage your savings?
I don't really have a 100% defined budget, and some months I spend more than I earn, but then other months I spend less so it works itself out. I'm a student working part-time, so it's pretty much "month to month" for me.
I've been living with my boyfriend for over 1.5 years now and so far we've been splitting the costs - with me taking care of everything and then telling him how much to pay me back at the end of the month or how much I'd need before the 1st to cover the rent and other payments. But we'll be wanting to make things more integrated, especially after he gets permanent residency.
I'm very strict with all and any payments. I prepare a ledger in advance listing everything that needs to be paid in the given month and whether and when it comes out of the bank or whether I need to do anything about it and when. I've missed a bill or paid late, and 90% of the time, I pay my credit card statement in full.
I also include the estimated amounts I'll get paid and when - until recently, I was on getting paid every other Friday, which sometimes meant that money came in on the 4th of the month, while rent was due on the 1st. I have a credit line, from which I borrow money for a few days in this situation, and then pay it back as soon as I get my payroll. This way I don't need an overdraft account and interest charges are minimal.
And I save every month - putting 10% of my pay into a special high-interest savings account was one of the best habits I developed... I save more if I can, but the 10% is a minimum which I then never touch.
Right now I started paying off my student loans, so things got a lot tougher, and I have to dip into the credit line a lot more because I'm in a different country and fees for international transfers are very high - it's still better to use the credit line and transfer bigger amounts from time to time.
What do you do with budgets, savings...? What about extra money that might come in, like income tax return, scholarship, cash gift? Do you save, spend or pay off debt with it? This year, my income tax return will go towards the credit line and student loans, but usually I save all of it. A couple years ago I used some of it for a trip to Europe a few months later, last year some went for college tuition.
Do you plan how much money to spend on food, entertainment, etc, each month? I usually don't worry with that - if I can't afford the movies one month, I just don't go. Or pay with credit card if I know there will be more money next month and I can pay it off no problem. But no to carried debt!