I have made so many budgets over the last – eight? – years.
I remember the first time I told Mr. Brickie we had to write down everything we owed to everyone. I’ll never forget the fear of having to write everything down. Of course that first time I forgot a couple things. I will still forget to add the water bill or the garbage bill once in a while because those are quarterly bills.
If you’ve never done a budget just keep reading. If you already know all your bills (and they’re written down) then skip to the monthly budget section. If you’re a rock star that always does a monthly budget just skip down to the third section for the budget spot-check. Hopefully you will find something here that helps your budget!
The First Time? Now.
Seriously. If you haven’t written it down yet, now is the time. Open a notepad file, Excel, a Google Drive Spreadsheet, Word, or grab a piece of paper and a pen. You’re not making something perfect, you’re just getting it out of your head and in front of you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and don’t forget….
- Quarterly or other non-monthly bills (water, garbage, auto insurance…)
- ALL your monthly bills (including cable, games, netflix)
- Credit cards (store & major)
- Do you have domains that auto-bill? An iPass that auto-bills? Hosting?
After years of paying things off and whittling away at my little bills, my budget list is pretty short. Every time I was able to take something off the list for good it felt amazing.
The Recurring Monthly Budget? Same day, every month.
No one is perfect. A day or two before or after the “same day” is fine, you just want to check the list and make sure you’re not forgetting anything. You want to take off anything that has been paid off. Also add anything that’s new so it does not get forgotten.
This is the one where you should make sure your partner looks at the budget, too. It doesn’t matter if it’s on paper or electronic, everyone needs to look at it and understand what’s happening with the money. This way there is no confusion later and everyone is on the same page.
My husband hasn’t looked at the budget in years. He used to, but he is only wired to pay bills by due date, not priority. Our budget meetings were tedious and frustrating and caused arguments. He just wants enough money to pay for gas, tolls, and the occasional Big Gulp at the 7-11 on the way home from work. Should I be spending that extra Big Gulp $$$ toward my past due electric bill? Hell yeah, I should! Am I going to? Hell no. That man works like a beast and if he wants to blow ten bucks a week on soda, so be it. I do the budget, he doesn’t overspend. That’s our deal.
Weekly (or biweekly) Budget Check up? Any day EXCEPT payday!
The spot-check on your budget happens as many times as a paycheck comes into your home. If you’re a freelancer and you’re expecting a client payment, check the budget. If you get paid twice a week, spot-check the budget twice a week. If you get paid every other week or weekly you’ll have some months where you do it an extra time because there’s an extra check.
When I do the budget on the day I actually have money in my account, I try to put “just a little extra” toward one thing or another and it never ends well. Doing the budget check-up on a day when you’re not spending the money allows you to make the decisions with your head and your logic and not with your heart. Your heart wants to be free from the shackles of all those damn bills and it’s going to try and make you do more than you should.
When it comes to your budget, always trust your head….it will take care of your heart!
My checkup looks a little something like this.
1. Verify I followed directions with last week’s check. (I did! Hooray!)
2. Check what’s on tap for this week. (Car payment.)
3. Is there extra after paying the car payment? (Yes, there will be.)
4. How much? (About $250)
5. How much is still in the bank account from last week? ($40)
6. Setting aside $200 to live for the week (including gas and tolls)
7. Leftover goes to savings. ($90)
So my goal of setting aside $100 a paycheck is not going to happen. I’m close, and that’s great, but I’m a little disappointed. I always want to rush the part where we catch up. I think I’ll be able to breathe once the insurance is paid for another six months. Then I won’t feel like I’m scrambling to make that happen. It auto-bills on the 15th of August so there are still three more checks before that happens.
Re-Doing the Budget. Once a Year.
Going through this post and what I’m doing right now, it dawns on me that I need to re-do my budget for what we are currently making. I am so busy digging us out of a hole I forgot to make a plan for what happens when we can see the road again! Nothing wastes money like not having a plan and today I’m going to get on that and make a brand-new budget and see where we stand on things like the payoff date for the auto loan (Exactly 2 years left. Huh.)
I want to have a plan for how much is getting paid off and when. I won’t be able to do anything really solid until next week when we see what that promotion and raise look like after taxes and everything. But I’d rather work with the numbers I have and then change them – I love Excel SO much – than not know at all and just be like, “Oh, I’ll get around to it when I have all the information.”
It’s like using a primer before you paint. Get the general numbers as best you can and then you can paint over that with the real stuff once you get it.
High quality budgeting takes multiple coats. LOL