Saturday, September 24, 2011

Baby on a Budget: Planning ahead for non-planners

So, let's face it. There are those of us that plan and budget and there are those of us who don't. Some people scrimp and save, while others live paycheque to paycheque. I'm not judging, it's just the way it is. I know just how hard it is to "save." Seeing that money in an account untouched when there are plenty of reasonable things you could use it for? Not easy.

So, this one is for those of you who live paycheque to paycheque. If you're one of these people, you might be concerned what might happen if you are waiting for that next pay cheque and baby needs formula, diapers or worse, medicine. How can you protect yourself from running into these issues without worrying about budgeting or saving?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Baby on a Budget: Starting a Budget

Let's face it. Babies are expensive. Sure, you think, what can it cost to feed a baby? Breastfeeding is basically free. What else do you need?


But, before we get into what a baby costs, you need to figure out just how much money you are spending each month (and how much money you are bringing in). In doing this you will see just how much you are wasting each month on your Starbucks addiction or impulsive internet shopping. A couple bucks here and there never seems like much, but over a month, it can really add up. Once you know what you are spending in a month and how much "extra" cash you have each month (let's be honest, who has extra cash at the end of the month?). From there you can figure out what you can cut out of your budget, or what you have available for baby spending.

Now, the question is how do you keep track of your spending? Well, there is the old fashioned way: collecting receipts and tallying it up with pen & paper. Or, if you have the patience for it, you can set up an Excel spread sheet and enter each and every purchase. But if you want something easy you can do from just about anywhere there is The Birdy.

The Birdy ( is a free online personal finance software. It is incredibly simply to use and keeps track of your purchases by date and by category. Best of all, it doesn't take a lot of me I wouldn't be using it if it did.

Purchases can be entered in a variety of ways (and in a variety of currencies!). First of all, you can log into the site and enter your daily purchases is a very simple format.

But if logging in seems like too much work for you there are other ways. You can set The Birdy up to send you a daily email. All you have to do is reply to that email and tell The Birdy what you purchased that day, using the same hashtag formula shown above. Your purchases are almost immediately added to your account.

Now if even that seems like too much work there is an even simpler option. Text message. You can set The Birdy up to accept texts. Just enter your purchases and voila, updated to your account.

The Birdy will now show you your purchases in several ways: on a calendar with dollar amounts per day, in a pie chart with categories and the percentage of overall money spent and in a graph.

At the end of the month you can review your purchases compared to how much money you earned in the month and determine where you can curb your spending if needed.

Of course, the very best feature of The Birdy is their cute little mascot, Basil. I'll be honest, if it weren't for Basil, I probably wouldn't have given The Birdy more than a passing glance. Okay, that's a joke, but he's still cute.

I started on using The Birdy on September 1st and have entered every single purchase I have made this month (including mortgage, vehicle expenses etc). I am hoping over the next few months I will be able to save a few dollars, allowing me to purchase baby things (and the much dreaded maternity gear!) when the time comes.

The one draw back is that at this time you cannot enter your income, so you will have to compare your purchases to your income on your own. But, The Birdy claims it is working on this feature, as well as many others such as Android & iPhone apps, recurring payments and a feature that will allow you to budget an amount for a certain category each month and notify you when you have exceeded your monthly budget.

I highly recommend that anyone that is pregnant start a budget of some sort as it is the first step in preparing for a baby financially. Better yet, I would recommend that anyone who is trying to conceive start a budget for baby, this will save you a wee bit of panic when you do become pregnant.

So, happy budgeting!

Ford more Baby on a Budget Tips:
Baby on a Budget: Planning ahead for non-planners