About two months ago my husband and I had a come to Jesus meeting. We have been budgeting and trying to pay off debt for several years, but really we were just treading water. We decided enough is enough and it was time to grow up and get disciplined. Within a month we were able to pay off $1700 in debt, and are now a month away from getting rid of our first credit card.
There are tons of methods for keeping track of a budget. From apps to jotting it down on a yellow legal pad. But finding the right method that works has been the key to our success.
I used to keep track of out budget in my Erin Condren Life planner. But this quickly proved to be impractical because it didn’t give my husband much access to it. When Erin Condren came out with the Deluxe Monthly Planners I thought this might be the answer. But I struggled with how to set it up. Finally, after months of trial and error, I have found an awesome system that is working for us.
On the notes page before the month begins I wrote out our debt snowball. We have 3 debts, so I listed them from smallest to largest, with the total amount at the bottom. This way I can compare each month and see the progress we are making. Without seeing those numbers in black and white it’s easy to get lax in paying off debt, or even continuing to swipe the credit card. Having to write the total down each month is a great motivator for me!
On the monthly view I track when all of our bills are due. I have tried a lot of different stickers, but the plain stickers that come in the back of the Erin Condren planners have worked just as well as anything else. I write the bill, then a small checkbox beside it. Then I affix the sticker on the date the bill is due, or on the date of the paycheck I plan to pay the bill with. As I pay the bills, I check them off.
I also want to use this space to track the income from my “Dave Jobs” (side hustles) but I don’t have a great method down yet. For now I have $ stickers on each Saturday to track one specific job. I may write the monthly totals from other jobs that pay more sporadically in the sidebar.
On the note pages after the monthly view I track income and sinking funds. The first page is divided into 4 boxes, so one for each week. My husband is paid weekly so this is the perfect place to track his income. On the second page I wrote out all of our sinking funds. To the right I will note the amount, then check it off as each category is funded. You can read more about sinking funds here. I use the column on the second page to track my different streams of income.
Note Pages In The Back
In the bulk note pages in the back of the planner I write out our full monthly budget. This is a bit repetitive, but this is how my mind works. I find being this thorough lessens the likelihood I will forget a budget category!
I just ordered a new cover for this planner that says “Haag Family Budget 2017” and monthly tabs so it will be easier to find our current budget. Right now I have it marked with a little piece of washi tape.
If you have struggled with organizing your budget, maybe using a planner is the answer for you. My Erin Condren referral link will give you $10 off your first EC purchase!
Do you keep a budget planner? I’d love to hear how you track it in the comments!