Setting up a Monthly Budget Book
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I have been using my Erin Condren Monthly Planner for a couple of month now and used it for my January and February budget. The set up that I used works well for me and helps me to keep track of my budget. Today I will show you how I set up my Monthly Budget Book.
As mentioned before, I am using an Erin Condren Monthly Planner for my Budget Book but you can use any other planner or notebook. I reviewed the Monthly Planner in a previous post, you can check it out here. If you are interested in purchasing this planner and haven’t ordered from Erin Condren before, you can use my referral link to receive $10 off your first order and I will receive a $10 credit on my account as well.
A great way to keep track of your monthly income and expenses are worksheets. The information can easily be written down and everyone can use them.
The worksheet that is featured in the post is the Monthly Budget Worksheet. It will give you an overview of your monthly income and expenses and how much money you have left at the end of the month.
There are 3 tables that focus on Income, Expense and a Summary. The income and expense tables are divided into budgeted and actual amounts. To better keep track of the actual amounts, a separate worksheet should be used for each category and filled out daily (free printable worksheet for that will be posted soon)
As you can see the expenses are divided into categories. I have listed the most frequent ones and left a few blank spaces to enter your own.
How to use the worksheet
First step at the beginning of the month is to enter your budgeted amounts. These amounts are estimates and do not need to be right to the penny. Rounded amounts in hundreds are good. Start with your estimate income. Let’s say $5,000 month. Obviously you do not want your expenses to be higher than your income. If you want to save $300 every month for example, enter total budgeted expenses at $4,700. Now allocate the $4,700 between your expense categories. You want to start with your fixed expenses such as Mortgage, car payment, insurance, utilities and other bills. The amount that is left is your disposable income and can vary each month.
During the month keep track of expenses for each category. Enter them as purchases are made or keep the receipts in an envelope and enter them when you get a chance.
At the end of the month add up all expenses for each category and enter the amounts in the Monthly Budget Worksheet. By calculating the difference between the budgeted and actual amounts you can see if you over- or under-estimated your spending in the different categories. It might be necessary to adjust your budgeted amounts for the following month if they were way off. Or maybe you were shocked to see how much you are actually spending on fast food this month and try to cut spending next month.
The notes section is for anything you might want to take note of. Write down if you had any extraordinary expenses that month or additional income. Maybe you were very satisfied with your budget and spending that month and would like to do the same in the next month or if you were not happy suggest what can be done better in future months.
You can download this free printable worksheet here
Part of being organized in my opinion is to know what your household income and expenses are. It is important to know where you are standing. What are your assets, how much is your debt? What bills need to be paid? How much money did I spend this month? There are many ways to keep track of your finances.
I am using an old version of Quicken Home & Business which does everything I need and provides a great overview of our current net worth. You can also compare your spending to the previous month or year. The only downside for me is that it is an older version and not longer supports the download of your bank transactions, which means every transaction has to be entered manually. As you can see I am very far behind entering the receipts, but at least I kept them all. This will be a weekend task for me. Maybe with a nice cup of coffee and a movie playing.
Another great option are spreadsheets. If you know the basics and are able to create simply formulas this can be an inexpensive way to manage your finances. You can create your spreadsheet the way it works best for you. I will create a separate step-by-step post on how to create spreadsheet to keep tracking of everything.
Some people though find it easier to write everything down manually. This can be done in a simple notebook or with awesome templates that can be found online. I am planning on creating my own household binder that will include important information for our household and my husband is able to look at the information as well.
We decided that I am in charge of our family finances as I work in the accounting field and I believe it is important for my husband to be able to see where the money goes. I am pretty sure most times he does not know how much money is in the account or how much the bills are. I think a lot of times he does not want to be bothered with it but he should know as well.
Keeping track of your finances will help you achieve your savings goals, pay down your debt and show you how much you are spending on things. I was shocked to see how much we were actually spending on groceries and fast food every month. You would not know otherwise. We get groceries once a week but I found myself stopping at the grocery store after work to pick up some extra things. These extra things added up to an extra $100 each week on top of my grocery bill. Fast food was a big expense as well. $20 here, 30$ there, couple of coffees, maybe some lunch…..crazy!
I suggest the first step is to write down all your income and expenses for one month. Separate the expenses into different categories. This can be just a few categories or as many as you want (e.g Vehicle expense vs. Car insurance, maintenance, gasoline). After the first month, have a look and see where your money goes. For the next month try to adjust your spending. Set limits and try to stay within budget. The extra money that’s saved move it to savings account or emergency fund.