Budgeting is Not A Superpower

Last year brought huge financial challenges for us. We sold our house at a significant loss. Less than two weeks later, back problems meant the only appointments I held each week were with a physical therapist. I am so grateful to each and every customer who chose to continue working with me despite my move and challenges! We needed to make more changes, however, and I thought this format was the simplest way to share what we’re doing. Becoming more disciplined with money is an ongoing journey for us, but a budget is the starting point.

A budget is just a tool to make your life better.

Those who know me might expect that budgeting comes easy for me. I work easily with numbers, utilize systems, and plan ahead for almost everything. Unfortunately, none of those skills gave me a superpower when it came to budgeting. In fact, when it comes to finances, the bratty little girl inside seems to win out. You know, the one who says, “I don’t wanna make a budget and stick to it!”

That meant whatever system I used needed to be fun. 

Despite my love for technology, this is one area I have gone back to pen and paper. Jen from iHeartOrganizing has a great little etsy shop for her printables. I snagged a bunch last year when she offered them free through her blog. If you need a little motivation and color, I think $3 is a small price to pay. You will find countless options if you do a simple search for free budget forms as well. Here is what I did to setup our budget system this year after we agreed to work through Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.

  • Placed 12 copies of the budget forms, using two-sided copies, into our notebook.
  • Gathered current bills into the front pocket of the binder. Many bills arrive through our online banking system, so I just login to that page when I need that info.
  • Made sure our checkbook was balanced and started doing so at least twice each week, instead of just during bill paying sessions.
  • Kept receipts for everything so we could see what we were really spending in areas like dining out, groceries, and gas.
  • Filled in the budgeted amounts for each category for the upcoming month using current bills: either print or through our online banking.
  • Recorded actual amounts spent from receipts and our bank’s category tool.
  • Entered irregular bills such as auto registration or summer camp on the appropriate month’s budget form in advance.
  • Set aside time during the last week of each month to finalize the budget for the upcoming month adjusting totals based on irregular bills and a better understanding of what we spent in categories such as groceries.

I became more consistent with these steps during the first couple months of this year. For instance, February was very busy and has almost no record of our actual amounts spent in each category. If When something unexpected arises, I can pull out the notebook to see what adjustments we can make to meet the need. We can see as a couple where our money is going and make corrections to help us meet our goal.

We are far from perfect but we want to be in a strong position financially when SkipperClan is ready to retire from the Air Force. Reaching our goals will be a great reward for the sacrifices we feel right now. {At least, that is what we are telling ourselves!}

What is your biggest challenge or success in using a budget?