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Last year when Shane and I were planning to sell our apartment and saving our down payment, I spent a lot of time budgeting and trying to find the easiest way to manage our finances. I tried super detailed spreadsheets, tracking spending by receipts, and everything in between. I realized I don’t want to look at boring spreadsheets and crumpled receipts. I am more likely to sit down and work on something a little bit pretty. Such a girl, right?
So I made my own spreadsheets with patterns and fun fonts, which worked for a time. What I struggled with (because I’m no accountant, expert budgeter, or even good at math) is that getting paid every two weeks, having bills on certain days, and some bills that came out the first Monday of the month, meant that some paychecks were gone in a day. Other paychecks had no bills, so I would do a big grocery shop, pay a bunch towards debt and then when all the bills fell in the next paycheck period, there was nothing left in the account. Budgeting for the month at one time didn’t work for us, since some months had an extra pay-period, or extra bills (that were on a two week cycle).
A budget calendar has been a life-saver for me, as I can see when things are coming out of the account and schedule voluntary payments (like to savings, or vacation funds) accordingly. In November last year, I found a calender laid out like this one I’ve put together. It made it so much easier to see what bills are coming off which paycheck at a glance. I didn’t see any I liked this year on the web for free, so I put my own together. I thought I’d offer it up for you, better late than never!
I think it’s cute enough to use for anything… not just budgets!
I use it by drawing a line down to separate income and bills (like a ledger with debits and credits). And I write all our incomes on the left, and every bill on the date it will come out of our account on the right. Then I can see what I’ll need to carry over to pay bills next week… and what I have left for groceries, gas, savings… or fun money!
What tools have you found that help you manage your finances? I always love hearing how others got their finances in order!