Whether you’re new to Goodbudget, or been with us for a while, hearing people talk about their budgeting journey can help inspire you to create a budget that works.
Meet Alex, the newest addition to the Goodbudget team. He’s twenty-three and a recent college grad. Hear from him as he reflects on his experience getting started with Goodbudget.
Q. How long have you been using Goodbudget?
Maybe three, four months now?
Q. Did you budget before you started using Goodbudget?
A bit, but it was less of a structured budget and more me noting my expenses in an Excel spreadsheet. I didn’t really look at or do anything with that information, I just kept the ledger. Now that I think about it again it didn’t really serve an actual function, it just made me feel somewhat responsible.
Q. Do you have any financial goals you’re trying to accomplish using Goodbudget or generally?
I think generally I would like to gain a sense for how I use money so that I can make sure my actions match the priorities in my mind. Also as a part of my whole new “adulting” shtick, I’ve thought it prudent to start on the right foot as far as responsible financial habits and patterns are concerned. But that aside… there’s also a specific bicycle that I’ve had my eye on for some time, so perhaps that too… Who needs responsibility when you can have a Canyon Speedmax… ahhhh…
Q. Have you learned anything surprising about yourself?
I think I was surprised how much I spend on food (or maybe more accurately — how much I eat). I don’t eat out often (maybe 2-3 times a month), have very little food waste, and don’t shop at luxurious boutique grocers, but in my first month on a budget I blew far past my budgeted estimate. Subsequent months were lower but still quite high, so I’ve had to readjust my budget and expectations based on that surprise.
Q. What was the hardest part of getting started?
I’d say the hardest parts were ironing out the details. After I thought I had setup my envelopes in Goodbudget in the first time, I would constantly think of new types of expenses and ways I wanted to organize those types, so for weeks afterward I was adding and renaming envelopes and fidgeting with the budgeted amounts. And then there’s just things you forget about. Like, until I got my first haircut as a Goodbudget user I had totally forgotten that was something that people did and I might have to prepare for.
Q. What’s your favorite Envelope?
I’m not sure I really have a favorite. But I suspect the moment I start spending from my travel envelope, context may make that one the favorite.
Q. What encouragement would you give people who are just getting started?
A bit of a cliché perhaps, but this is all a marathon rather than a sprint. I think right at the beginning I felt a little overwhelmed by trying to organize my budget and “get it right” and without really much to go off it all felt very abstract and hard to wrap my head around. But over time I came to realize that there wasn’t one single “right” and that my budget would grow and change as I and my knowledge grew and changed. There are still some financial questions I have about myself, but I’ve sort of buckled in and decided to take my lessons on-the-go rather than seek some wild, grand truth. If you run a marathon like a 400 meter sprint you’re going to have a bad time. But if you sit back and realize you have many miles left to go, you’ll have many more chances to observe yourself and your surroundings on the way, and eventually crossing the “finish line” will mean that much more.
With that encouragement in mind, what are small changes you can make to your budget that’ll help you run the race well?
P.S. If you’re interesting in sharing your reflection or budget story in a Q & A, email us and let us know.