Life moves pretty fast around here. In the last three years, we have:
In the next six months we will:
If your head is spinning then, believe me, my everything is spinning. One of the most complex byproducts of this period of rapid change is the challenge around budgeting.
Two new incomes.
Paying for childcare.
Two incomes, again.
More baby stuff.
Back to one income…
How can you even think about planning with all of that change?
My husband and I are pretty great communicators and planners — even about budgeting and money — yet we are continually challenged by how best to plan. It seems like something — everything! — changes in the blink of an eye around here. Back to square one I had to go each time our life, income, and expenses changed.
So, I recently had the very cool opportunity to test-drive a personal budget system called Life, By The Pie. In past, I’m embarrassed to say that I had scoffed at pre-fabricated budgeting systems because our lives changed too quickly for me to consider budget planning of any kind. It wasn’t very forward thinking...fast-forward to today...
Life, By The Pie is a nimble, easy, online budgetary tool that builds upon the baking a pie analogy. Let's be real: Who doesn't like having more pie?
Life, By The Pie takes you through easy steps of building (baking) your own personal financial budget (pie). It took me only 10 minutes to build a pie I called “Dawn at Home,” which captured my financial life while I am at home raising our daughter. It was a painless, four-step, “baking” process:
Step 1 - Everyone Has a Home – Here, I input the BIG stuff like our housing and mortgage costs.
Step 2 - Everyone Must Roll – This captured the transportation costs of gas, maintenance, and even Metropasses.
Step 3 – The Filling – Then, I entered our everyday living expenses, such as groceries. Man, we sure eat a lot.
Step 4 – The Topping – I finished the pie with information about what I spend on entertainment, and other “frills.”
Ding! My pie was baked. It is SO interesting to see a visual representation of your spending:
As I’ve always said, the only thing better than one pie is TWO PIES. So I did it again, this time building a pie called “Dawn Back At Work.” This pie captured what my financial life will look like once I am back in the office in a few weeks:
I am far from reckless when it comes to spending. In fact, folk wisdom says that the Scottish are known for their “short arms and long pockets.” True, in my case. However, it is totally amazing how little I really knew about where my money was going.
Being able to visualize where the dollars were going helped me to prioritize and plan; even with the many changes our family was still about to experience.
Once you know where your money is actually going you can start to make informed, positive, decisions about where you want it to go. It lets you spend more on the things that bring fulfillment to your life.
We all know that spending happens while you are out there in the real world. It happens in line at the grocery store, it happens when your kid suddenly grows out of all her pajamas at the same time, and it happens when your car decides to start leaking oil all over your neighbour’s driveway. You can’t plan for this stuff.
This is what the Daily Dish app is for. As part of the Life, By The Pie system you can access this app on your smartphone or tablet. It’s this part that makes personal finances as easy as pie. At the end of each day, week, or month you log into your Daily Dish account to keep track of your spending as it happens. If you have registered for a Life, By The Pie account, you automatically have access to the web app.
By tracking your ACTUAL spending (like the three lattes I had this week, or the extra-special birthday gift we got for my dad), you can then get an extremely accurate pie-picture of your spending.
We have some incredible things to look forward to in the next six months. A new job, an adventure in babysitting for my daughter, a new baby in our family...
All of this may be a lot to manage. Knowing how we are going to manage it lets us have a little more fun along the way. And knowing how much I can spend on pie helps too!