FINANCES TEND TO BE ONE OF THOSE THINGS EVERYONE DISLIKES DOING.
They can be boring... complicated... downright depressing... but it doesn't have to be like that.
The trick to keeping finances from becoming a chore, is to keep them simple, and not let them spin out of control.
So today's printable is a budget worksheet, which is generally the first step when organizing financial stuff. It's got a nice simple layout, so it can handle everyone's financial situations, and it's super simple to use.
Just chose your budget period (month, week etc), and add your income sources for that period in the top section and total them up. Then do likewise with your expenses in the bottom section. Add up the total on the bottom line.
If your expenses are higher than your income, i.e. you get a negative number on that bottom line, you'll need to go back and adjust things to make sure you're living within your means.
It really is that simple!
I've been using this budget for years now, and over that time I've learnt a thing or two about setting a budget and making it stick, so here are my...
TOP 13 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR BUDGET WORK FOR YOU
1. If your family's main wage gets paid weekly, set your budget weekly. If you get paid monthly, set the period to a month. This just makes things easier to remember, and balances the money coming in and out - budgeting is harder to stick to if you have heaps in your account one week, and nothing the next - aim for balance.
2. Have one main account without a card (so you can't spend from it), and have all your income deposited there. Then, siphon off all your payments into other accounts - like personal, bills and savings accounts.
3. Think about having a 'float' in your bills account so that if/when there's a surprise expense, its not a major issue. Imagine a few realistic scenarios that could happen without warning, and keep enough there to cover them.
4. Automate as much as possible! This is so important! If you can organize all your payments to electronically transfer out of your account after you're paid, there won't be an opportunity to overspend.
5. And when you automate your payments, make it happen the day after you get paid, because, sometimes the payroll staff are sick, there's a public holiday, or just an unforeseen event that means you get paid late. Years ago, we had our automatic payments coming out on a Thursday exactly when we got paid, and there was always a problem. Since switching them all to a Friday, we haven't had a single issue. I think it's something to do with Murphy's Law... lol :)
6. Pay off debt every pay period, and pay as much as you can afford. Just set up the payment to be automatic, and it's gone, it's paid, and you don't even have to think about it anymore.
7. If you're saving for something specific, like a home deposit, car or holiday, make it priority number one. Work out how much you need to save from every pay cheque to achieve your goal, put it at the top of your expenses list, and then work out the rest of your budget.
8. Discretionary spending like eating out, clothes, coffee etc., are impossible to budget for, so why not give yourselves an 'allowance' every week? We've done this for years now and it works beautifully. We get a set allowance each week that automatically goes into our personal accounts. He pays for fuel and his work stuff with his. I pay for groceries with mine. Whatever's left over is ours to spend on whatever we like. (And that's how I got so good at Economizing my Grocery Shop!)
9. Why not also have an allowance for kid related spending too? Put a certain amount into an account each week (fortnight, month, whatever), and buy all their nappies, formula, clothes, toys, football memberships, dance class fees, etc., with that money. Anything left over can just stay there as savings. I did this with Missy for her first two years - it was brilliant, and something I need to start doing again. By the way, you can easily get your bank to link two accounts to the one keycard.
10. When estimating expenses, keep them in round figures! An amount of say, $37.75, is hard to remember, and just plain irritating. Make it $40 or $45 so it's nice and simple. And don't forget to add a little bit of 'fat' to the figure - so if that expense is a bit higher this month, it's not a big issue.
11. Don't make your budget so tight it sucks all the joy from life - life is to be lived, not saved for a rainy day. It's important to be able to get a coffee if you want one, buy a magazine, or get the kids an ice-cream. A budget is just a tool you use to achieve your goals - positive goals - don't let it become a prison.
12. Your budget is also going to change over time. It won't work perfectly every week, but it should work 80% of the time. And it's going to need to change with your family, so don't stress about needing to adjust it every few months.
13. And last, but not least, make doing finances and your budget a lovely experience. Use a pretty printable like mine - or someone else's if you love their design - kick back with a coffee and some Tim Tams, write with a nice pen... you get the gist :) Making it a lovely experience, means you're more likely to give it attention and stay organized.
So there you go. I hope you've found these tips helpful in setting your budget! You can also find my Free Printable Expense Records here.
To download these printables, simply scroll down to find the download links - and don't forget to sign up to my newsletter on the way!
All the best,
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