Give Me Back My Five Bucks

GMBMFB monthly budgets moving forward

I’ve been experimenting with different ways of blogging about my monthly budgets. I’ve been showing you my Excel spreadsheet for so long that I wanted to change it up. I even thought about not posting my budgets anymore, but I think I still need them for me. :)

So here’s what I’m experimenting with this month – my budget based on percentages:

March2015-Budget

The above chart just shows averages. When I recap my budget at the end of every month, it’ll show the percentage of what I actually spent that month.

I also considering cutting back on the number of categories, and it would look like this:

March2015-simple

Overall, I like showing percentages better because:

  1. It eliminates the dollar value so that we are really only focusing on what percentage of my income is going to each category.
  2. I based my previous budgets on my full-time income, and did not include what I did with my freelance income.
  3. You can see my savings rate in comparison to the rest of my monthly spending.

Switching to percentages means you can now see where all of my money is going, and even though I’d no longer be sharing dollar figures, I think this is a more transparant way to show my spending and savings.

What do you think?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


Comments

  1. I’d say I’m personally a fan of flat numerical values (because it feels more immediate) but I can definitely see the benefits of representing your budget in terms of percentages too.

    • Cherrelle says:

      Me too. I personally don’t think charts help at all. I prefer seeing the numbers in black and white. I started my own spreadsheet at home based on what you started originally. Personal opinion but..why mess with a good thing?

      • jay says:

        I agree… Although if there’s a desire for increased privacy then maybe reduce the categorization to something closer to the second chart with numbers raster than percentages?

        OTOH, it’s your blog so I think you have to do what you’re comfortable with.

        • Christine says:

          Other vote for numbers here. My favorite part of your blog was the transparency in your spending. I think knowing you can spend $100 on groceries for the month is a little easier to duplicate than X%. For those of us in debt, we’re already spending a good portion of our income to reduce that and finding more ways to cut back is helpful.

  2. I love charts! I think %’s give a good overview, but with a fluctuating income it might make comparing months more difficult (a lower income month might mean your savings rate is lower even though your spending was less than normal). I guess it all depends on what information you’d like to share for accountability/inspiration.

  3. I think the percentages are good for the public and very easy to read/compare, but I would still track everything in dollar values for my own personal use. I just like to see the dollar value for each category.

  4. ARBM says:

    I originally had my budgets in % but have moved to $ because I find it easier to keep track of for me right now. Once I learn more about budgeting and get my spending on track, I may move back to %.

    I think both have their merits. % definitely feels a bit more private for posting on the internet…

  5. Yemisi says:

    For the blog, I vote percentages! For your own purposes I’m sure you would still use dollar values. Personally, I’m more likely to look at the pie chart than the spreadsheet. I do prefer the more detailed pie chart.
    Why? Percentages allow you to give a more accurate picture, while maintaining some privacy. Plus, it is easier for someone to compare what their spending would look like if they spent like you.
    Ooh can you make a widget? Where people can plug in their income and see how much they would be putting toward each category if they spent like you? Pretty please!

  6. Happy FI says:

    I am still a fan of your excel spreadsheet but if you feel like it is better represent your budget in percentage, go for it!

  7. I use percentages for my personal finance blog too when I do my budget.

    I started out showing all my categories and their percentages – like your first example. But, I quickly moved to just three categories (fixed expenses, discretionary spending and savings) and their percentages. The feedback I received from my readers was that all the previous categories made it too cluttered.

  8. J says:

    I guess using percentages would work for you because they are easier to disguise flaws, errors, and omissions in your budget – and there are always SO MANY in yours. You need to proofread before you post.

  9. Kerri says:

    This is great! Using percentages is a much easier way to manage and also helps you see the big picture. At Cinch, we’re focused on helping you save on just that — the big picture, the big bills.

    Kerri

  10. Barb says:

    Seeing actual numbers also made it really nice, and seem more realistic. Maybe the chart you used to have before, and the %? That would be awesome!

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