Simple Budgeting With A Planner | Giftie Etcetera: Simple Budgeting With A Planner

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Simple Budgeting With A Planner

I've hinted about how I budget before, but today's blog entry is much more detailed than anything I have written before about how we control spending in the Giftie Household. This is going to get a little complicated. Hang in there. It's worth it in the end. Or just skip down to The Part Wherein I Talk About My Planner (aka The Good Part).

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.


Jen said...

Hi Kristy,
Just wanted to let you know that your blog is so inspirational to me. In fact, along with Philofaxy and Plannerisms, it inspired me to get back to blogging, a pastime that I abandoned a while back but always meant to return to. Your tips and anecdotes are always helpful and entertaining. As usual, I'm looking forward to your next post!

Ragnar said...

I'm a fan of having your husband get a second job. Good for you. Bad for him.

That said, how do you keep track of your husband's expenses? This system appears to work well for single spender families, but in my own household, both myself (very little) and my wife (most) spend money and make trips to the grocery store or other places.

Giftie Etcetera said...

He just brings me his receipt when he gets home. If it's not a receipt purchase (say, gas station), he texts the place and amount to me.

He's really good about it, though that might be because he is a budget analyst.

When we get low on funds (toward the end of the month), we talk about it.

Plus, neither of us spends over $50 or so without consulting the other, other than our planned weekly grocery trip.

Giftie Etcetera said...

Jen, so glad to hear that!

Ragnar said...

Thank you for the quick response. I wanted to add my two cents in more detail on my blog:

Thank you for the inspiration!

Giftie Etcetera said...

Oh, Ragner, I love it! said...

My budget is simple like that, too, but I think I'm going to add the envelope. I tried carrying an envelope in my purse but it was a pain. I'll stick one in my planner and see if that works better. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

It's easy to look past the planner, since it's rather textbook and for kids, but it's a real nice way to start off our financial planning. It's practical, since it's already sectioned and easily within our reach. It also makes the idea of it much more easily digestible, by making it feel elementary. Not everything relies on software or has to be decided upon by a computer. What is needed is for brains to simply be working creatively and properly.

Neil Dando @ Wormald & Partners