Last week, I spent a good portion of my spare time working on my family's budget. Our budget spreadsheet allows us to track our receivables and expenses, as well as our retirement investments and other savings. Via a "total assets chart," we can look a full year out to see how much we'll be banking and spending. It gives my husband and me a good idea of the luxuries we can afford and warns us when it's time to be cutting back.
I try to update the budget spreadsheet about once a quarter or more. Like many of my spreadsheeting sessions, I began this particular exercise with the sole purpose of finding areas where we could spend less. Although it's not always easy (because reducing costs usually means reducing fun), with the help of a little creativity and an open mind, I inevitably achieve my goal each time. And, albeit with a bit of reluctance, this time was no different.