How could a budget help me?

Hello I’m new here. I see there is a budgeting forum. I am wondering how budgeting could help me.

I use Gnucash to track all my expenses. My goal each month is to spend $0 per month of discretionary spending. So far I’ve done that this month. I have a year long goal of no fast food, convenience food, dining.

I save about 50-60% of my Social Security Disability check each month.

Since I track all my expenses in Gnucash, and only buy the necesseties (and am perfectly content with the necessities) I know my mandatory monthly expenses are approximately $1500.

So I put the other $1500-1800 into emergency fund, I-Bonds, Mortgage Fast Pay and Index Funds / Stocks.

Do I need a budget? The only discretionary things I buy are investments :slight_smile: I wrote up an Investment Policy / Plan for myself so I have the asset prioritization and allocation worked out.

Very rarely I might buy a discretionary item but I try and buy it used at below fair market value to save as much money as possible :slight_smile: If I need to pull cash from the emergency fund for this I will, then replenish that fund the following month. Occasionally we might take a short trip to another state for a weekend vacay… maybe once every couple years. Going to Omaha, NE next year – love Warren Buffet :slight_smile:

Here is a screenshot of my Profit & Loss statement for the current month in Gnucash. I’ll spend about $200 more in groceries and phone bill will be around $12. And that’s about it for the expenses this month.

My only debt is my mortgage and I owe like $40k on it.


Welcome! It sounds to me like you do have a budget, but perhaps that it is not itemized- is that accurate?

If you know your mandatory expenses are $1,500 a month, and you’re able (with relative ease) to save the remaining $1,500-$1,800 a month-- I would personally say you don’t need to get more granular than that.

I think budgeting is mostly helpful for people who are not meeting their spending and saving goals, or who have no idea what they’re spending their money on, or who are in debt and unable to dig their way out. If you’re already living way below your means and easily saving your targeted amounts, I don’t think there’s much advantage to a detailed budget.

I don’t budget in an itemized way, but I did when I first started managing my money! Now I have a set amount I try to save every single month. If, in the future, I was repeatedly unable to save my goal amount, I would probably do an intense audit of all my spending and attempt a budget to course correct. So far that hasn’t been necessary! Sound to me like you’re doing great! :slight_smile:

ETA: Just saw the visual you added. It looks like you know exactly where your money is going already!


Thanks yeah I know where it’s all going to the penny and I just showed you the top levels of the account tree, they go several levels deep :slight_smile: e.g. I can tell you how much I spent on Groceries, on Meat, and even Pork or Eggs :slight_smile: Or I can tell you how much I spent on Sundries overall, or say just on laundry detergent. I go line by line from grocery receipt creating a large transaction, putting each line item into the proper categories (having to calculate sales tax each time on each item, which stinks but I am determined to get as much accurate data as possible).

I only started tracking back in Feb w/ GnuCash and I absolutely love it, because now I see where everything is going. I had no idea I was spending so much on certain things. Once I saw all the data, I’ve figured out ways to save me around $1000 per year already. Still working out other ways to save as I collect more data over the year :slight_smile: It’s kinda fun :slight_smile: GnuCash is free and awesome software :slight_smile:


The following attached image is my Discretionary expenses account tree expanded one level:

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Just a few years ago I was living paycheck to paycheck. I never tracked anything and had no idea where my money went. I always looked as money in the bank is money to be spent. I am so totally different now. I look at all money as money to be invested and only take from the invested money for things I absolutely need without sacrificing any quality of life.

If I want something that is unnecessary, but would be fun or nice to have, I try and buy it used below fair market value, something that will last forever and that I could sell for as much as I paid for it. That way it isn’t an expense, just a transfer of assets; the only expense being any depreciation (instant or otherwise).


I think you already have a pretty standard budget/tracking setup.

Tracking, obviously there.

You have a zero discretionary/food out budget, plus I’m guessing you have mental “acceptable ranges” for your necessities - so, those are also budgeted, even if not written down in a spreadsheet. You have allocations for your money, and you stick to them.

If you wanted to make changes - save or spend more - maybe a written down budget would help. But if you’re happy where you are, and you’re keeping yourself in good financial trim - why change a good system?


I think it sounds like you have a budget! Don’t fix what isn’t broken is what I say. When I teach about budgets, I emphasize they don’t all look the same for everyone and that many people’s are quite broad. Yours sounds a great deal more specific and thought out than a lot of folks, so if it is working for you I would say don’t change it!


Thanks everyone for the replies. :slight_smile: