But I'm ready now to share about Step 4 of our budgeting plan.
Step 4 will include using the monthly calendar to track bills, like my mother-in-law showed me a few years ago.
This is a step that might seem a little unnecessary to some people, but it is SO nice to have things written out on paper.
Okay, so the first thing you're going to do is buy a cheap monthly calendar. I have found that the kind of calendar that has one month on a two-page spread works the best. The boxes are big enough to write in, but you can still find these calendars for next to nothing.
After you have your calendar, you're going to get your monthly budget out and start plugging in your income on the dates it will come in. Matthew gets paid on the 5th and the 20th, while I get paid on the 25th and the 30th.
Our bills are due at all different times. The time period between the 5th and the 20th is the time we have to make our dollars "stretch" the most, so we only plug in the bills that are absolutely due between that time period on our calendar. The majority of our bills get paid between the 20th and the 30th because the majority of our income comes in then. We also track our fuel expenses, groceries, and other expenses on this calendar.
So after plugging your income in, you're going to write down all outgoing funds on the dates that you'll pay them. Start with those debt snowball items, add in your other fixed expenses and utilities, and then add in your other necessary items (groceries, fuel, etc.).
If you fill up your gas tank once a week, choose a day from each week and write "Gas $__" and however much it takes you to fill up.
If you grocery shop once a month, but seem to run out of money during that pay period, you might have to break it up into two shopping trips or a once a week trip. We try to only spend $50 from Matthew's first check on groceries and then spend $150 (or less) later in the month.
Add in your tithe and charity giving, your kids' lunch money, daycare expenses. If any of these expenses are taken out more than once a month, list them on the various dates that you will pay them.
Here is what my budget planner looks like. We have various expenses that come out during each pay period and I add those onto my calendar in pencil. When we have some extra income, I plug it in to the first item on my debt snowball and change the expense in this calendar. I try hard to remember to track even unexpected expenses (and unexpected income!) on here, so we can have a record for building our next month's budget.
When I pay each bill, I put a checkmark through it and when the bill comes through the bank, I mark through the bill completely.
Okay, so that's your job for today...add all of your income and expenses into your monthly calendar so you can make sure you don't miss anything each month! :)
Hope you're still enjoying these!