My husband and I have been trying to improve our budgeting skills AND doing it together! I used to take care of it (because I do so love having opportunities for a to-do list and organizing) but he wanted a more active role and we agreed that if anything ever happened to one of us, we wouldn’t want the other to be left in the dark.
Enter…our budget spreadsheet! I’ve attached a link to it and will explain the method to my madness. If you have trouble viewing this attachment you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it directly!
This is for all the scheduled bills we pay each month and includes the paycheck we use to pay it, date due, date paid, amount, and HOW it is paid (e.g. check, online, auto withdrawel)
This is for the money that is left over after the bills and will come out of checking (not cash). We sit down every 2 weeks and plan out what the next two weeks have in store: gas, groceries oil change, medical visit, birthday gift for niece, etc. Think about all those extras you may have in a two week period like a Superbowl party that would increase your grocery bill or a trip out of town that requires an extra tank of gas.
We were getting REALLY bad about going out to eat, movies, etc. and would often use our credit card if funds were low. My sister-in-law gave me the idea of using cash only for fun “extras” and it has worked beautifully. If we are out of money, we do not get to go spend 30 bucks we don’t have on a meal we don’t need. It is especially nice because we cherish our “extras” much more and will avoid the little spending (e.g. 3 fast food visits) for a big spend (e.g. nice date night at a restaurant). This is also where the spreadsheet comes in handy because you can plan for extra events (e.g. birthday party for Frank this week, we’ll need extra cash). We make sure to have cash for each one of us to use personally so we don’t have to “check in” on every day spending (e.g. grabbing a coffee, co-worker lunch, etc.) and then cash for “us time.” If neither of us uses up our personal cash we have money for an extra date night!
We had been putting money back for a variety of reasons (e.g. vacation, Christmas, etc.) but were not keeping track of how much we had saved for what. I added a section on the spreadsheet that allows us to specify what we have saved and for what. This is especially helpful for upcoming events (e.g. saving for a shopping trip, saving for a weekend out of town, new pair of shoes, etc.) This has helped us with impulse buying also, I make a specific point to add onto my savings list if there is something somewhat expensive I have been eying.
BE SURE TO SAVE YOUR FILES! I have a flashdrive specifically for “finances” and I save each month on there. It helps to go back and look at your budget to prepare for upcoming months!
I hope that my obsessive organization has helped give some easy tips for budgeting in your life!