Money on My Mind Monday: Monthly Budgeting Forms

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In my last money post, I shared with you our Budget Box.  I’m still loving this new system, although, I’ll be honest in that I haven’t been quite as diligent on tracking our spending as I thought I would be.  But, still, there have been many times over the past few months when we’ve needed something, and that something has been right at our fingertips in our budget box!  I love that it sits out in our office at arm’s length.  I seem to be staying on top of filing receipts away, even if I’m not taking a second look at them, and our office has been much more organized.  Woo Hoo!

I mentioned in the last post that we decided to move away from a budget binder.  We used a binder for many years, but it just didn’t seem to be quite enough for us.  It always just felt like more work to keep it organized, so we stopped trying.  However, I did use this budget binder post as inspiration when creating our budget box.  While Hubby and I discuss almost all of our purchases – literally, almost ALL – I wanted to incorporate more of a checks and balances system into our financial routine.  One thing we already do yearly is a Tax Return Date Night.  (I know, so romantic!) But, I think it’s important that we both sit down together to go over our yearly taxes; we both know exactly where we are financially and (even less romantic) we both know how to do it in the event that the other couldn’t due to some unforeseen circumstance.  Along those same lines, I thought it would be good for us to get in the habit of sitting down each month to go over the previous month’s spending and to set goals for the next month.  I borrowed the Month at a Glance and the Monthly Check-In sheets from Thirty Handmade Days, and I tweaked them to create my own based on what categories we needed to include.  I love how they turned out!  I have manila folders for each of these forms in the first hanging folder in our Budget Box.

Month At A Glance

Fill this out at the beginning of every month and keep tabs as the month progresses.  If you have a salaried income, you can go ahead and fill in the paychecks  line item.  If your income varies, you can update according to your actual paychecks.  You can go ahead and fill in your recurring expenses at the beginning of the month.  I customized this how our recurring expenses are set up.  These are the items I know will not change (at least, not significantly, month to month.)  Your recurring expenses probably do not look exactly the same.  That’s ok!  The “Extras” column is to capture any variable spending each month:  groceries (because our amount varies), entertainment, gifts, etc.  After you have filled in all of your income and all of your expenses, deduct all of your expenses from your income.  That total is your month’s ending balance.  We choose to put any positive balance into our savings account. 

Month At A Glance

Monthly Check In

At the end of one month and the beginning of the next, we sit down and fill out our Monthly Check In form together.  This is after I have completed the Month At A Glance form with all of our transactions.  The Monthly Check In is where we grade ourselves.  We identify goals that we met as well as problem areas.  Then, we make goals for the upcoming month.  Sometimes these are general (Stop spending so much!) and other times they are specific (compare internet service rates).  This is a great place to brainstorm!

Monthly Check In Final

 

Happy Saving!

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Budget Box

Money on My Mind Monday: Budget Box

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Last week, I shared with you how we’re tracking our spending.  This week, I’d like to show you the new system we’re trying out for keeping our finances organized.  I’m sure you’ve heard of budget binders, and that’s exactly how we started out keeping our bills organized.  However, several years ago, the system kind of deteriorated.  For the past few years, we’ve been keeping our receipts in file folders, but these have just become so cumbersome.  As I said in my last money post, I haven’t been staying on top of budget tracking, so the receipt mess is all my fault.  I take full responsibility.  So, I started looking for better options.  Maybe we just needed a jump start back with the binder?  Maybe not.  I stumbled onto a budget box.  Aha!  That seemed like a great idea!  I took the idea and created our own budget box.  We only have a few weeks of using this new system, and it seems to be working great so far!  Here’s how I set ours up:

1.  First you need a hanging folder box.  You could also use a drawer, but I like the idea of the box because it is sitting out on a bookshelf in our office.  Every time I walk into the office, I see it, and I’m reminded of our budget.  So far, I’m staying on top of tracking our budget.  I looked around a little bit and decided on this one from Target:

Threshold Hanging Storage

Threshold Hanging Storage

Now, obviously, if it’s sitting out, you want something that is going to look nice and that won’t drive you crazy.  But, also remember that office supplies can be crazy expensive!  If you’re trying to implement a good budget system, blowing a bunch of money on supplies to get you started is probably not the best idea.  (I’ll be honest – I had to walk away from the beautiful braided hanging folder basket with the lid because it was twice the price.  It was painful, but I stuck to my guns!)

2.  Next, you need some hanging folders, some manila folders, and labels for each.  We already had some hanging folders, but I did grab a box of manila folders while I was at Target.  Again, you could spend some extra money for cute designs if you want it to look really pretty.  I chose to use the red folders we already had because 1) saving money! and 2) (more importantly, I’ll be honest) they match Munchkin’s red play table because our office also doubles as a playroom.

3.  Decide on your budget box categories.  This is where you can really customize the box to your needs.  No need to set up folders you know you won’t use, and feel free to add extras that might help better organize your paper trail.  This is currently how I have our folders set up:

Hanging Folders (in Red) then manila folders within each folder

Monthly Budget

Monthly at a Glance

Monthly Check in

Receipts

12 Monthly Folders (January – December)

Paid Bills (Recurring utilities, etc.)

12 Monthly Folders (January – December)

Taxes (donation receipts and other tax-related documents)

2015

2016

Accounts Summary (Net Worth)

Pay Stubs

Account Statements

Folder for each bank/credit card

Gift Cards/Certificates (We are terrible about using these, so I’m hoping keeping them easily accessible will encourage us to use them more frequently!)

Coupons (Again, I’m hoping keeping them at arm’s length will help us remember to use them!)

Budget Box

Budget Box

The finished product!  What do you think?

Happy Budgeting!

 

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Money on My Mind Monday: Mint

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2016.  A new year.  Time for new thoughts, new goals, new mindset.  Resolutions often center around health and fitness.  I can’t tell you how many detox plans I’ve seen over the past few weeks.  (If this is you, we’re right there with you!)  But, another important part of healthy living is responsible finances.  If you watch Suze Orman (we used to DVR and watch on occasion), you know that she claims your financial situation has a huge impact on other areas of your life.  People with health problems often have money problems as well.  This viewpoint takes holistic living to a whole new level!  But, I have to say that I agree with it.  Anyone who is having money troubles will most likely be stressed, which leads to other health problems.  So, if you’re looking to be healthier in the new year, don’t forget to think about money!

I’ll admit, we’ve been pretty bad in our house about money recently.  Hubby pays all the bills (not to mention, earning the money to pay the bills – thank you!!), and I USED to track all of our spending and keep track of our budget.  USED to.  Since I’ve been home with Munchkin, I just can’t seem to stay on top of it.  I think part of it is the fact that I’m just not in front of the computer like I used to be.  It used to take me a few minutes here or there to open up our account summaries, log in the info to our excel spreadsheet, and see where our money was going.  It’s a lot more difficult on an iphone.  So, I just haven’t done it.  That changes now!

Part of resolution success lies in accountability, so I’m putting it out here now.  I will stay on top of our budget!  Another part of resolution success depends on the ease of execution.  This is really what I want to share with you today.  There are two things that I’m hoping will really help me execute my goal of staying on top of our finances this year:  the budget box (which I’ll share with you next week) and Mint.  We’ve actually been using Mint for many years.  (Our transactions go back to 2008!)  If you haven’t already checked it out, it’s awesome!!  You can pull all of your accounts into Mint, and then you can see all of your charges in one place.  We’ve always used it to track our transactions, but this year we’re also taking advantage of the budget feature.  Hubby and I sat down to come up with our monthly budget, and then, I was able to enter the categories into Mint.  Now, I can easily see if we’re over budget in a category, and easily see what transactions caused the overage.  You have the ability in Mint to categorize all of your transactions, and you can even split transactions between different categories.  I’m trying to be a little more broad this year in my categorizations so that this part of budget tracking doesn’t take too much time each week.

Go ahead!  Sign up for an account!  Word of warning:  there’s a little bit of time involved in setting up your accounts and budget, but after that initial time investment, it’s very easy to maintain.

Mint

Happy Saving!

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