I use an Excel File with several sheets. One sheet is dedicated to the budget, another one shows my Net Worth, another contains several account, pin, password info, another is vacation planning, some others are dedicated to following certain financial indicators like exchange rates of some hard currencies I invest in, the stock market historical data, gold prices etc. Needless to say the Excel is password protected.
On my budget sheet, the top few rows are for my income. For the time being, I have a regular salary, a retirement income and a rental income there.
Several rows are dedicated to monthly expenses and bills such as utilities, taxes, insurances, vacations, cleaning lady and etc. I have a general category for spending that includes all my grocery spending including personal hygiene items and clothing needs plus eating out. This entry is not exactly the same for each month. I know when I usually shop for clothing so, I bump up the numbers a little bit for those months. I have never been able track every penny and make a zero-based budget.
My budget guides me not to over-spend and save each month. My savings are also on my budget so I know exactly what I am saving and how.
I have an Emergency Fund, a TL savings account, a USD savings account, and a Retirement Fund in addition to a small stock portfolio in an investment account. Each month I allocate some money to all these accounts as soon as I get paid so, I do not overspend. If anything is left over at the end of the month, I put that sum into one of my savings accounts. For instance if the stock exchange is doing poorly, I buy stocks, if USD is comparatively lower, I buy US dollars, etc.
I also have a row for gifts and a row for charity. I know when I will be buying birthday and New Year gifts so, I plan ahead. I also give planned sums to charities every month. This is so much easier to manage.
With a click of the mouse, I can tell my yearly income and how much I need for the entire year. My forecast is accurate by +/- 2-3% which is sufficiently manageable.
So far, this approach has worked for me. My budget extends to several years ahead. I know things may change but, I like to be able to plan and project big expenses of the mid-and long-term. By looking at my projection, I can calculate when I would like to call it quits and fully retire without having to work ever again. There are still a few years for that:)
If you have a budget; is it monthly, yearly or longer term?