We have a household budget. I used Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s Interactive Budget Worksheet to build it. It’s great because all the formulas are there and I don’t have to figure anything out in Excel, and it gives you amounts for your “jar money” – Gail’s preferred method for keeping track of cash expenditures.

(I am a Gail Vaz-Oxlade evangelist. I love her, I have two of her books, I watch ‘Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess and Money Moron).

We have this spreadsheet, we have a budget where everything balances, our bills are all paid, we’re paying off debts.

And then there’s keeping track of it all. We use Gail’s spreadsheet but we don’t have the jars. We tried tracking spending in a spreadsheet but things got forgotten. I live in constant fear of surprises. We have a budget, but we don’t currently have an emergency fund and if something happens – like, say, the dog gets sick or I break a tooth – we have to fiddle with our budget to make it work.

We’re not badly in a hole, we’re not in a situation like the people Gail saves on her shows, but it sure would be nice to have her come in and even things out.

I asked on Facebook what my friends do to control their spending and got several identical answers: Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s spreadsheet and her jars.

I think I’m going to the dollar store tomorrow to buy some jars.

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