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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Budgeting - Our 3-part system

About  a year ago, I wrote a post about writing out a budget using just paper and pencil, no spreadsheets, no apps. Since then we've also used a spreadsheet budget that I had created, an online software program (free version), and another spreadsheet pre-formatted. Sometimes it takes a few trials and errors to find a system that really fits you well.

The spreadsheet we finally settled on came from this website. It is the EOD Deluxe Budget which is formatted to match Dave Ramsey's budget and cash allocation forms from his Financial Peace University course. We use the budget to create a big picture for the whole month -- how much we expect our income to be and how much we expect to pay out in each and every category. Not when, just how much.

This part of the spreadsheet, on the left, shows the budget amounts for spending in each category, how much was actually spent and the percentage of income each category is. And on the right is where we record all our avenues of actual income. (These are not our numbers, but the example that comes with the download.)



We use the cash spending allocation form each week to record where we are spending the actual income. We may partially fund a half dozen envelopes or we may pay bills in full or we may set money back (record it spent, but just leave it in the bank) for a bill due early next month. This part of the spreadsheet is really the workhorse because it shows us in every pay period exactly where every dollar is spent, right down to the penny.

This part is to the right of the income columns shows above. It's where we record our actual spending in each category. The remaining row shaded in green at the top keeps track of the balance of our weekly income that we have left to spend. We're done spending once it reads "0". (Again, not our numbers.)
And we have a calendar on the wall next to the computer which shows when the bills are due. This is so we can check them off as we pay them so we don't miss any and don't pay any late.

One of the tricks to budgeting is to not give up. Keep working with whatever system you are using for at least 6 months, and if it's just not going well at that time, do try a different system. Starting a new system will always be painful the first few time you go through it, but it should get easier in a fairly short time. Like I said before, it took us a year or so to find this spreadsheet, but in less than a month, we knew it was the right system for us. And now our budget meetings, if there are no changes to make, take us about 10 minutes. And we're staying on track.

How do you budget?

Peace -- Ann

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