Everyone always talks about their “budget”. Sure I heard it all the time and I even used the word myself, but I don’t think I really understood how to use a budget until the last couple years.
I instantly have anxiety when I think about how my husband and I used to run our finances when we were in college. We would do things like pick an apartment based on nothing else other than what we “thought” we could afford. We never sat down to look at our income and actually run the numbers. Stressful to think about!
After many “lesson learned” experiences we have a system going for us right now that works pretty good. It’s not perfect but very helpful and a huge stress reliever. When finances run smoothly (this doesn’t mean we have a lot of money, just that we manage it better) it’s amazing how other things in life run better.
In this three part series I am going to talk about what we do on a monthly and bi-weekly basis. I know that there are many ways to manage home finances but this is what works for us and my hope is that someone else might find this helpful.
Tools for Creating Your Pretty Penney Budget – Step 1 of a 5 step series
Tool #1 Free Budget Template
I created a simple spreadsheet in Excel that I use to keep track of which bills I need to pay, when they are due, and when I actually paid them. You can download this FREE tool for your personal or family finances by filing out this simple form below.
You not only will receive your free spreadsheet but you will also get access to my FREE Beginners Budgeting Printables. For those of us that prefer to use pen and paper, I got ya!
Remember that this is for personal use only and please do not distribute for sale.
How to Use Your Free Budget Template
Now here is a quick overview on how to input your own information into the worksheet. Like I said, it’s pretty simple and straightforward.
- This area is where you can enter the names of the bills (cell phone, power, insurance, loans, ect)
- This area is where you can enter the amount of the bills
- This box will automatically add up all of the bill amounts and give you a total
- This area is where you can enter the due date for each corresponding bill
- These areas (under each month corresponding to each bill) you can enter the date (mm/dd) you made each payment
- In this area (same for 2nd Paycheck Bills) you can enter the names of the bills you want to pay with the corresponding paycheck
- In this area (same for 2nd Paycheck Bills) you can enter the amount due for each corresponding bill for that paycheck
- This box will automatically add the total amounts due that you assigned for that paycheck.
- This area you can enter the names of the monthly expenses that are flexible (gas, grocery, shopping, ect)
- This area you can enter an estimate of the amount you typically spend each month on the corresponding expense
- This box will automatically total your monthly flexible expenses.
Tool #2 Mint.com
Less than a year ago I was introduced to Mint.com. Let me just say that I am in no way being contracted or compensated by Mint.com to write this post. I am only sharing because I really think that this program is useful and it is actually what I use on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.
What this program does is it helps you keep track of where you are spending your money. There are many different features to this FREE online program but in a nutshell, it allows you to categorize all of your spending.
Why do you need to do this? You need to know where your money is being spent in order to budget it. Simple as that. When we first started following our money trail I was sincerely shocked at how much we were spending on things like “fast food”. In this category I decided to include things like 7eleven stops for snacks. Man, can $4 stops add up really fast!
Now you can start assigning your transactions to different spending categories. Most of the time once you assign a store to a specific category Mint will remember for future transactions.
Now that you have the tools you’re ready to start using them. Next week I will talk about how to use these tools to save you money!
What do you think?
How did this worksheet work out for you? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s chat!
Upcoming posts in this Pretty Penny Budget Series:
And don’t forget to get your free budget template here.