This is my summer of organization! I know most of you are thinking summer is the time to relax and take it easy. I plan on doing that! But I also think summer is a good time to do a little organizing since I do have more free time and I will have more hands available to help me did do some projects. So my first project was to re-organize our finances (you’ll find out why as you read on) and I made a household budget binder! I also have a list of free printable financial planning pages at the end of this post that I will frequently update.
I know that most people set up a basic budget in January for the year. I always did. There’s nothing like a shiny New Year to get you motivated to make changes and be more organized!
The only problem I realized is that, for my family at least, I would often have to re-do our family budget mid year because my husband’s company has our medical insurance running June – May and every year the options get worse and the cost is more! It’s also the time that our mortgage company re-evaluates our escrow account for taxes which affects our mortgage payment. I never know how these two things will go! Sometimes things stay pretty much the same and sometimes, like this year, we’ll be paying close to $200 more per paycheck for medical (plus a high deductible) starting June. Yep, an extra $400 a month!! I almost cried when I saw that!
So now I’m going to try setting up our basic budget from June-May and see how that works. We’ll continue to re-evaluate it each month and tweak it as necessary.
I know it’s “old school” to use pencil and paper but that’s how I like doing it. I have tried other budgeting methods. Some people keep their budgets in an Excel spreadsheet, some use online programs like Mint or YNAB, some use Quicken, some use the envelope method (click here for a detailed description of how this works) and some people don’t care and do nothing and it all works out for them… or not 🙂
I would say do whatever method that engages you and really makes you aware of your spending and saving. I’m not completely old school…I do pay all the bills that can be paid online and I use Quicken as my check register and just download our transactions every day. (you can get Quicken here)
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How To Make A Budget Binder
This is how my budget binder is set up. My household budget notebook is a 1 1/2 inch binder with various free budget printables from different places on the internet which are linked at the end of the post. It contains:
1. A vinyl binder pocket for receipts that need to be filed. That way they don’t accumulate in a pile on my desk. You may want to keep stamps, address labels, pencils or something else in it (or skip it altogether). You may also want to use a larger one and put your bills in it as they come in.
2. A monthly calendar. I use free printable calendars. There are lots of designs to choose from online. When a bill comes in or I have an automatic deduction, I write it on the calender a few days before the due date. I pay 99% of our bills online so paying a day or two before the due date has been fine for us. If I was mailing checks I would pay at least 5-7 days before the due date to make sure the payment was received on time. As the bill is paid I check it off (including automatic ones – I check my account online to make sure it was deducted – things happen). At the end of the week I make sure everything for that week has been checked (therefore paid) & entered in Quicken (including automatic savings deductions which are taken from our main checking account twice a month).
3. Debt tracking sheet – a place to list debts that have a monthly balance. Every month I enter the new total due and get excited watching the amount go down!
4. Annual Expense sheet to keep track of those expenses that happen once a year and then break them down into a monthly cost for budgeting. For example: Termite Bond Renewal, AAA Membership, Warehouse Club Renewal Fee, Membership/Subscription Fees, Property tax if it’s not included in your mortgage etc.
5. Total Income & Expense worksheet with Financial goals for the year. That way you can see where to cut if you have more going out than coming or if you have certain financial goal you want to reach. I normally only do this once or twice a year or if there are significant changes to our income or our expenses.
6. Monthly budget planner pages divided by monthly tabs. I keep the projected income for that month minus projected expenses for the month (it’s really pretty much the same every month – there are variable income worksheets linked below if your income fluctuates). When I’m really on top of my game we use the envelope system for groceries, eating out, and personal spending. If I’m not on top of my game (it happens 🙂 ) I do a weekly budget just on a sheet of lined paper to keep track of groceries, entertainment, gas, personal spending money etc. that I budget a weekly amount for.
7. Some people might want to keep check register pages in their planner but like I said, I use Quicken plus I rarely ever write checks. Some people might want to use cash tracking pages if they use mostly cash.
8. You may also want to keep a sheet to track your savings. Especially if you are saving for a specific purpose.
Use whatever budget sheets apply to your needs in making your budget planner. That’s what great about this system. You customize it to what works for you. This is what works for us, but I’m always tweaking and re-evaluating my system as should you. Things are constantly changing and as things change so should your budget.
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Here are some places for free budget planning sheets to help you get started. If you offer some on your blog or know of others, leave the url in the comments and I’ll add it to this list. I’ll keep updating this list as I find more free planner pages so be sure to bookmark this post to see any changes.