Ninja Budget: Married Edition

Shoe Budget

It’s that time kiddos. Time to crunch some numbers and see what the Ninja households’ life looks  looks like through the eyes of an Excel Spreadsheet. This is my budget prior to marriage…

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And now let’s take a gander at the prospective Married Budget of Pure Epic Gloryness…

Married Buget
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Does the layout make sense to you? I know looking at other people’s budgets can be pretty confusing, so let me try and clear up any potential confusion.

Gross Income:

This section is probably the most confusing. It includes the gross income from both my full time job and any side hustle income I can bring in. It doesn’t include any of Wife Ninja’s teaching money, not because her money doesn’t count, but I put her NET income at the bottom of the spreadsheet a long time ago and have never moved it up. As you all know, my side hustle includes tutoring and blogging. I make $40/hr tutoring high school math, usually about three hours a week. My blog income is much more inconsistent ranging between $0-$1,000 a month. I like to budget conservatively so I estimated $200/month for all my side income, but it in reality is closer to $500+.


We’ve decided on only two primary investment vehicles at this point, but will likely add a third soon. I contribute 5% of my gross income to my 401K as that gets fully matched by my employer (for a total 401K contribution of 10% of my gross income). I’ve also made a habit of maxing out my Roth IRA each year ($5,000/yr). That is all Wife Ninja and I will do for the remainder of 2010, but when 2011 comes around we will start up a Roth IRA for her as well. Pretty boring stuff if you ask me. This should make our total retirement investing somewhere between 15%-20% of our gross income.

Taxes, etc:

Getting paid every two weeks makes budgeting a bit more difficult. We’ve decided to plan our budget around only two paychecks a month, even though twice a year I have a three paycheck month. I basically manipulate my tax number to reflect what my actual Net Pay was after the typical two paycheck month ($3,100).


Again, pretty boring stuff. I include a 10% random category at the bottom of the expense category as it seems like most months have unexpected and non-budgeted things come up. Instead of make random guesses how much we spend on cleaning products, clothes, etc each month, we’ve decided to just keep all that miscellaneous spending at or under 10% of our net income. Do you budget every last purchase; beauty products, coffee, etc?

Left Over:

This is the most important part of the budget. As it stands right now, Girl Ninja and I are looking at having about $1,380 each month in discretionary income, for an annual savings potential of $16,500. But wait! It get’s better, remember, there are two months each year that I get an extra paycheck. That bring the annual savings potential up to about $19,500, but even more awesome than that… I only assumed $200/month in side income (which would only be $2,400/yr), but so far I’ve brought home a little more than $5,000 from my side gigs this year. If we buckle down, we could easily be saving $25,000 or more each year.

The stuff on the right side is just stuff I track for myself, annual savings goals, what bills have been paid, etc.

I personally believe our budget SHOULD NOT be a restrictive law, but simply a spending guideline. Some months we will spend more in categories than budgeted, just as there will be months where we are way under. Our life ebbs and flows, and our spending is no different. We have a great potential to do some serious wealth building and I’m excited for the journey ahead. I’ll keep ya’ll updated if there are any significant adjustments.

How serious is the budget in your house? Does it dictate every dollar you spend like the envelope system would, or is it more of a estimate like in the Ninja house? What’s your preferred budgeting tool (Mint, Quicken, Excel, Paper/pencil)? Do you add any sections to your budget (like Goals, Payoff dates, etc)?

33 thoughts on “Ninja Budget: Married Edition”

  1. I prefer paper and pencil. Sometimes I use excel and Mint, but I am not always around a computer and like to be able to look again and again at something.

  2. Definitely pretty loose; I don’t really have a big budget like most PFers, but plan out my spending every week and track throughout the month. I have things pretty simple and pretty regular, so….

    Nice to see $500 in groceries…I’m sick of seeing people’s ridiculously low food bills! High COL solidarity.

  3. $25K is a great savings target for a couple your age. Way to go Ninja.

    Ours is loose because it can be. I think about money constantly, so I go on kicks where I try to do a spending freeze and only buy essentials. I pretty much did that for the whole of 2009.

    The way it goes, is 1. save 15% for retirement in 401K, 2. Pay bills and credit card, 3. See what’s left over + send it to the mortgage. There is always a leftover amount and some months it’s bigger than others either due to 3 paycheck month or some kind of windfall (bonus, tax return, selling my car, etc). My husband is my buffer. He’s building back our e-fund at the same time.

  4. I try really hard to stick to my budget because we are aggressively paying off my student loan. Usually, I will leave a slush of $50 in my checking just in case something comes up (like we need more bread because my husband ate fifty sandwiches in one day or something like that).
    And as a side note, I about pooped my pants in nervousness when I saw how much you’re paying for rent.

  5. I think that some day, our budget may be looser than it is now. We may be able to use the budget as a guideline rather than a rule. Right now, though, because we are trying so very hard to get out of debt by about this time next year, we are pretty militant about the budget and our envelopes.

    I tried using Quicken and I hated it. I tried using Liquid Ledger and I hated that even more. Because I use QuickBooks both at my full time job and when I do the bookkeeping for hubby’s business, I am used to it. So I set up our home accounts as a “business” in QuickBooks, and that is working for us. I certainly don’t use QB to its full potential — it has a lot of tools that I’ve never taken the time to figure out. But what I use makes sense to me.

    I actually hate bookkeeping, but with our home accounts, at least, I like knowing the accounts are reconciled each month and knowing how much money is in all our accounts. So I keep doing it. And also because hubby won’t do it.

  6. We pay way more attention to the budget now than we did 6 months ago, and it’s really starting to pay off; a bank account that has not dipped into overdraft is truly a beautiful thing. I’m not obsessed with the budget, but I have a much better idea how many Loonies (Benjamins to my US friends) we have in the bank. We use Excel and the Envelope Method; hubby and I are both paid 2x/month, so it makes budgeting even easier. We take out the necessary money we need for 2 weeks worth of variable expenses (groceries, gas, entertainment…); our fixed expenses (mortgage, property taxes, condo fees, car/condo insurance, Retirement Savings) are automatically withdrawn.

    The one thing we don’t skimp on is the grocery bill; we spend about $200/week (give or take). Since we make most meals at home (there are always leftovers for lunches), I’ve made concessions for a larger grocery budget. I’ll only buy meat when it’s on sale; one of the best purchase we even made was a small freezer. Hubby has a labour-intensive job; I refuse to have him eating mac & cheese everynight. We also both have very short commutes to work; helps to keep the gas bills in check.

    BTW, Ninja, your blog ROCKS!!!

    • You rock…my face off! Been loving all your thoughtful comments over the last few weeks!

      p.s. props to you for having the discipline to work the envelope method. It’s not for the weak!

  7. we’re sitting down to do our household budget this weekend. We just combined accounts! Our “budget” has been pretty loose and not set in stone. We know our mandatory expenses each month, and have an approximate number for the others (food, toiletries). We don’t really worry about the rest of the money because we’re both naturally frugal, so nobody’s going out and blowing money on unessecary things. It’s pretty nice to be with someone else who is also a natural saver!

    But, it will be good to see all these numbers put together and get a projected expenses and savings amount! The vacation allotment will probably motivate us to be even more frugal!

  8. I maintain a budget pretty closely, and it has come out pretty darn close to my projections this year. However, I’m usually under on my anticipated expenses per month, and then I add a big expense with some big ticket item.

    I like your format for a monthly budget, but I do an annual budget and track everything month to month, which I prefer more. I have my spreadsheet and videos on how I do my stuff on my website if anyone is interested.

  9. Your budget just makes everything seem so simple…do you have a template to share, please? Congrats on your savings potential, that’s great!

    My budget is pretty structured right now as I’m trying to pay off my only debt (car loan) in the next 8 months, but I also have a love for travel and allocate any bonuses and tax returns (after tax and tithe) to travel!! I will probably losen my budget up a litttle once the car is paid off. I use excel and I have a a tab that pulls a summary by month and I compare my progress to my overall yearly goal on a quarterly basis. I do monitor my progress towards my financial goals in that summary tab. You bet I monitor my travel fund pretty closely too haha! Yes, Im an accountant!

  10. Just wondering about your health insurance budget. Looks like its $300 a month but only $600 a year? Shouldn’t it be $3,600?

  11. Girl Ninja deserves to have her income up at the top. It seems sort of, well like, you’re not considering her income to be a great contributor to the marriage. It’s 50/50 regardless of who makes more, so move her up there and give her a separate line, so it shows her contribution right up top, rather than an after though at the bottom!

    My budget is locked down and I track everything in Excel. YOu wouldn’t understand mine to look at it either. But it’s a thing of beauty, and I love to admire it at least on an every-other-day basis.

    • Her income is primarily down at the bottom because we have a goal to survive off my income and use hers as discretionary income. It’s not an afterthought or less important, it simply helps us see if we are able to sustain our lifestyle on just my income.

  12. Now that you’re a few months in, how did the asking about all purchases above $50 work out? Did you get tired of being called about every sweater, haircut, and baby shower gift? Wait, do San Diegoans even know what a sweater is? 😉

    I can’t seem to estimate the randoms on the nose, you only randomly need superglue, shoe polish, or a lint roller; who knows?! Personally we lump it into our $200 of discretionary per month, but it’s the same concept – if you don’t track it, it becomes an animal!

    • Wife and I just talked about that the other day. We aren’t sure if a budgeted amount is best, or not setting that boundary and just letting each other purchase what we want/need within reason. Both have their pros and cons.

  13. I am paid biweekly (i.e., 26 checks a year), and my formula is (for me) simple:

    Biweekly gross
    – taxes withheld, 401(k) contribution, and other deductions
    = Biweekly net
    – Roth contribution (i.e., $6000 [because I’m >50] / 26 or $231)
    – Bills due for the period
    – Minimum amount I aim to keep as a reserve in checking
    = Available spending money for the period
    / 14
    = Average available spending money for the day, recomputed daily

    And I keep all this information in a Word document. I’m not good with Excel.

  14. You make $40/hour tutoring high school math?
    That’s an obscene amount of money that …parents?… are tossing your way!

    Out of curiosity, how do you advertise those services?

    • I went through my local college and high school first. Started at $20/hr and once word spread there was a guy in the area that could tutor math, my phone didn’t stop ringing. At one point I was charging $50/hr, but felt way to guilty at that rate, cause Algebra just isn’t that hard. Start with one kid and, trust me, the word will spread fast!

  15. My budget changes hourly, or at least it feels that way. Our spending is incredibly flexible, but we generally only spend on what we have to. (New soccer cleats for suddenly growing feet, that type of thing.)

    I am going to stick my nose totally where it probably doesn’t belong, but have you considered upping that 401k amount? With two incomes, you may need some protection from the tax man. Maybe put what you normally put in your Roth into your 401k and then fund your Roth from you side hustles?

  16. I don’t see anything in your chart for things like clothes, gifts, shampoo, etc? What if you need to get a hotel room for a wedding, or decide you want to take up BMX-ing again (so, hobbies?). I’m guessing those things are what the 10% Random would go for, but I would think those things add up to more than $300/month for two people? Maybe you’re just great at finding a deal 🙂 But as a fellow girl ninja, I can tell you our lady stuffs are purty spendy, even i you don’t go top of the line (or anywhere near) for everything. I suppose even spending twice to three times that amount per month wouldn’t affect your finances much, since you’re saving so much every year. Maybe this is part of your casual/low maintenance budget approach, but wondering if you’ve considered these expenditures and just ignored them, or if you really don’t go out much/spend on hobbies/etc?

    On a separate note, one married couple i work with has what i think is a great system for working out those $50+-type personal purchases without getting on each others nerves. He’s an outdoorsy type who like to camp, hike, and grab a beer with friends now and again. She, being a fairly typical she, likes to buy a nice pair of jeans or get her hair highlighted now and again. To keep from stressing about how the other spends their ‘wants’ money, they have set up/kept personal bank accounts in addition to their main joint account. They both contribute the majority of each of their incomes to the main account, which is used for things like rent, bills, savings, home purchases, etc, but then take a discussed and agreed upon amount to put into their personal account, which they use for whatever they want. This system works for them because they are both responsible budgeters, and they manage the personal account like any other, avoiding over-spending, saving for personal goals/wants.

    • The 10% random expenses is for all the little things that are hard to track. Some months GN buys beauty products, other months she buys nothing. We do track all those expenses through Quicken, and generally make sure there hasn’t been a spending binge. We use a “guess and check” type budget for those things.

      You’ll notice most of the expenses in my budget are fixed and reoccurring. This tells me how much I HAVE to spend each month. Then we can use the discretionary savings for other things. I like to keep things simple and don’t want to get bogged down in the minutiae.

      • Hm, cool. That’s kind of what I figured, but thanks for the explanation! Love your blog, btw. And ninjas, of course.

    • When W (my late husband and I) were negotiating our budgets, we did just what your friends do, Jenna. Big ‘household’ budget for everything except misc personal spending and small “personal” budgets for that. We actually had our checks deposited into our “personal” accounts, then an autodraft took the household money over into the shared account. We were, by the way, on each other’s personal account for emergencies.

      I liked having ‘blow’ money that I didn’t have to account for to anyone, and it sure makes it easier to buy the hubby a suprise gift if he doesn’t see a check clearing the house account made out to the local golf course’s pro shop LOL.

  17. The budget is god at my house! (but it is always changing)

    I use excell and have all of my accounts linked in the spreedsheet so that when I transfer money or make repayments, the balances are automatically updated. I reconcile my budget to my bank accounts weekly (they are cash flow budgets) and will update the value of any purchases (say for example I budgeted $20 fuel and only put $15 into the car). Each month I do a net wealth calculation to see if i am making progress, this makes me feel good if i have or keeps me motivated if i have fallen off of the ban wagon.

    My habits sound very strict in nature, but i have to be diligent as I am currently in a precarious situation. one third of my net income goes on housing alone. Each week I contribute $20 to my superannuation (in Australia we recieve a dollar for dollar match for the first $1000 of member contributions + 9% super guarantee from employers) a little money to savings and a little money to pay off my credit card.

    I say my budget is god… so i budget in a healthy amount for going out. I am only 21.. give me a break.

  18. I see rent kicked up! What is this Sallie Mae that is not recorded on the individual sheet? Nah, you two are doing great – enough that she could stay home no prob to raise baby ninjas. 😉

  19. My budget is a spending guideline. I give myself $1000/month to cover everything but if I go over, I don’t kvetch or cry.

    I keep a separate spreadsheet for project-only related expenses. General business/personal expenses are in my other spreadsheet.

    I like to budget with Excel with my customized sheet where I track everything from net worth to assets to debt (if I had any) and each month: FB Budgeting and Analysis Tool

    I have areas for goals but I know what my goals are without writing them down –> save money. Lots of it.

    I also record everything from Starbucks runs to Makeup. It’s my own budget so.. 🙂

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