Kids are expensive. Now that Loki and Ander are eating real meals, I can barely afford to feed them. Add in private school (our local school is not so good), sports (Ander is a member of the black belt club where you work towards getting a black belt), and clothes...and I'm seriously thinking my husband needs a second job.
(Not me, of course. I blog. You wouldn't want me to waste my time at a real job and not have time to write this, right? Support Team Husband-Gets-A-Second-Job, people!)
(Of course, if you have the perfect job for me, I am well-trained, witty, and pretty darn available. The perfect job has good hours, high pay, and interesting assignments. It's not too much to ask.)
Anyway, since I am a stay at home mom now, we are on a tight budget. My husband happens to be a budget analyst, so we canceled cable (praise my deity of choice for Netflix!), the family started eating at home more often, and he made a spreadsheet to track where our money was going.
I love the spreadsheet. (Okay, I can't read it. It makes no sense to my lawyer/school teacher/NOT an accountant brain.) But I do know that most of the numbers on it - once we cut out extras like a cleaning service (yes, staying home does mean I clean my own toilets...unless the kids mouth off and give me the opportunity to DELEGATE :) ) and cable - are beyond our control. The electricity bill is what it is. The mortgage and student loan payments are always the same.
What varies every month are checks for unusual purchases (for example, school lunches are already budgeted but a check for a field trip is not) and the spending we do on our credit card (food, groceries, and other wants and necessities). That seemed like the right place to cut our budget. So we looked at what we spent last year and decided to cut our credit card/check spending by 4%. We picked 4% because that was the amount (4% of the credit card bill) by which we went into debt instead of living within our means last year. So I needed a way to track my spending on the credit card and unusual check purchases.
The Part Wherein I Talk About My Planner
We both know that you were waiting for this.
I made a simple insert in my planner for each month, right behind the monthly/weekly calendar. (I could have also done a budget project, but I felt strongly that budgeting was important enough to live in the meat of the planner.)
I hole-punched an envelope to hold any important receipts. If it gets thick or at the end of the month, I pull those receipts and put them in a receipt binder (the plastic kind with twelve months). I only keep receipts for things that I might return or tax deductions (and those receipts go in this year's tax folder).
I simply write the budget (last year's credit card bill minus 4%) during my monthly review on the top right hand corner of the page. Then I subtract as I spend money. If I run out of money, I don't get to spend anymore.
I only write the date, the vendor, and the amount spent. My husband gives me his receipts, too.
That's it. We have come under budget every month since putting this system in place. I work the system and we are able to pay off debt. As a bonus, it forces me to look in my planner (and notice other things that need to be done).
P.S. Ignore the ugly fingernails. Blech.