The thing I like about having a budget is that I can tweak it to fit different circumstances at different times. I set up a zero based budget where every dollar is accounted for and has a job to perform.
As I have built up my Emergency Fund and made the best use of ING for various savings goals I have become more comfortable with the flow of cash through my various accounts. This is not to say that I have the (Suze Orman recommended) 8 months of expenses saved up but I do know where my money is going to and coming from at different points in time.
I have mentioned before that I use Money, Quicken online, Mint and Google Docs to track my finances so that I know what my balances are. I used to track many items in great detail when I first started budgeting and then as I got the hang of it I was able to simplify my finances a little bit. I condensed some of the categories because I did not need to track things in as much detail.
A few months later I realized that I could simplify even more and cut out a few more categories in my budget by putting all purchases on credit cards and simply paying the credit cards through ING.
Now that I have my cashflow set to where my finances are automated I do not even want to bother with the updates from Mint and Quicken so I have consolidated all transactions into the following categories for online tracking:
* Household (includes all other expenses, cash, credit card payments AND savings)
I still have my budget with various categories like
Credit Cards etc. in Google Docs so that I can see what areas I am spending money and in what areas I can afford to cut back. The budget is set up as a template so that I only need to copy the spreadsheet and name it for the current month every time I need a new budget for the month. Any money left over at the end of the month (e.g. when I spend less on gas than I budgeted for or when I make a killing using coupons) is transferred to a holding account for Overrages and Coupon Savings so that my finances start over fresh every month.
This way I only have to make sure three categories are properly tracked online and the rest of it is accounted for in my Google Docs and Money when I do my weekly maintenance.
My financial managment is now much simpler and therefore easier to deal with, reducing my stress and allowing me to manage my money more effectively.