Lauren Cobello » Budgeting » Budget Tips and Tricks » How to Make Your Own Budget Planner
You’ve heard me say many times before that a money saving budget planner is an essential part of making your money work for you. Having all your money in one place makes you feel better because you’re more organized. Plus, you can finally stop missing payments and paying late fees.
It makes sense to set up a brand-new budget planner in January. If you don’t have the budget to purchase a budget planner like my Personal Finance Planner, you can always make your own. Something about the new year gives you an extra boost of motivation to make changes and reach your financial goals. But you can set up a budget planner at any time of the year.
To put your budget planner on the fast-track, you may want to consider The Personal Finance Planner. You can jump in right away and get started on creating your first budget, planning your meals, and loads of other tools to help with your budget.
But to make your own, the first step is to get your supplies in order and decide how to set up your budget planner.
I personally recommend a 3-ring binder and a few divider pages to create an organized system. Feel free to get as colorful as you want – after all, it’s your planner! You might consider these designer dividers and complete the look with this matching binder.
Add this vinyl envelope in front of your divider pages to easily keep track of receipts and other bits of paper.
Keep in mind that setting up your financial plan can take a lot of trial and error. To keep my budget binder looking neat and clean, I use these erasable gel pens. Obviously, buying gel pens is optional. But it’s what I use because I’m always making changes to my budget binder.
Now that you have a binder to keep your finances organized, it’s time to start putting your planner together.
Completing your budget doesn’t take much time after you get everything in place. As a mom, you’re busy – I get it. But having all your finances in one central location will save you time.
You should be able to get your monthly budget done in about 15 minutes and only spend five to 10 minutes each week to maintain your system.
1.) Your vinyl envelope pocket should be on top of your budget binder. This way, you won’t have to worry about receipts piling up in your purse or on your desk because filing them is easy. Each time you open your binder, you’ll see the envelope pocket first. You could add stamps and address labels in the vinyl pocket, so there’s no searching for them when you need them.
2.) Label your dividers by month, starting with the current month. Each monthly section will have all the pages you need to record your spending and stick to your budget. You’ll have no trouble seeing where your money is going and can even spot trends to help keep you on track.
3.) A monthly calendar should be the first page in each section. Free printable monthly calendars are everywhere these days. Whether you like floral or bold colors, lots of options are available online. Add each bill to your calendar as it comes in the mail. You may want to write it in a few days before the due date, so the payment has time to reach its destination. When you pay a bill, check it off your calendar.
4.) Monthly budget planning pages are the heart of your budget planner. This is where you’ll write down your total income and expenses, including your savings goals. I’m a fan of the zero-based budget because it forces you to make a plan for every single dollar you receive. When you give every dollar a job, you won’t be tempted to spend any extra cash you might have on something you don’t really need. For your monthly budget planning page, you’ll record your income at the top and subtract your expenses one by one until you reach zero.
5.) Weekly paycheck planning sheets are optional. If you get paid every week, take a look at what bills are due and decide how much money you’ll need for groceries, gas, and other budget items. With that in mind, make a plan for how you’ll spend that weekly paycheck.
6.) Check register pages are also optional. While you need to know how much money is in your bank account, you could opt to use the register booklet that came with your checks or budget software like Quicken.
7.) Additional budget planning sheets could include a savings goal tracker, a debt tracking sheet, and a list of your annual expenses that are only due once per year.
Before the start of the month, make time to plan out your monthly budget. Include a savings category to build your emergency fund or add to any sinking funds you want to work on, and don’t forget about setting aside money for your annual expenses.
Refer to your monthly calendar to track bills that might be due when planning your spending each time you get paid. Using a weekly budgeting worksheet can keep you from overspending.
You can check out these free budget planners to set up your binder or get started right away with The Personal Finance Planner. Whichever you choose, you can customize your budget planner to your needs.
And remember: Life is always changing and your budget isn’t set in stone. If something comes up and you need to make a change, pull out your trusty erasable gel pens and find a way to work it into your budget.