Thursday, January 22, 2009

How does your budget compare?

This year I'm taking my job as family CFO seriously. And as Suzy Orman says the first step is to be honest. So, honestly, our budget is a mess. In the past my husband and I have sat down and reviewed/revised our budget somewhat regularly, but still we always get off course. As I'm using Mint in conjunction with online banking I'm discovering the reason for our derailment. It's simple--our budget isn't real. It's a well crafted piece of fiction complete with twisting plots and unpredictable characters that have bad habits and a disregard for rules. Well, it's not that bad, but Mint is forcing me to see exactly where we're spending. It will take more than one month to come up with a workable budget as I see our spending trends and assess our real needs.
Meanwhile, I was wondering what an average family budget looks like. So I found an average family budget courtesy of Personally I thought it was a bit odd that things like alcohol and tobacco were separate line items. In green are my Mint categories and current slices of our budget that they consume. Some things are categorized differently for example "books" are under "Shopping". Overall our percentages don't look to bad. I think the "Education" on the National Average is a bit low for families. For us this category is completely absorbed by preschool costs, and our preschool is very low in tuition comparatively.

Of course every family's budget will vary from the average. But this table gives you a picture of whether you are completely off kilter in any area.

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