Last week I wrote this post about lessons learned during the first half year of marriage. In that post I briefly mentioned the dreaded B word that nobody likes to talk about. Budget.
After that post I received several questions from readers asking how Steven and I manage our budget. First, let me preface this by stating that managing our budget is a constant work in progress. I am by no means an expert when it comes to the budgeting. Quite the opposite actually. You see, I really like to shop. Like a lot. Before Steven asked me to marry him and before we bought a house together, I was living in a one bedroom apartment by myself and spending 80% of my paycheck each month on rent. Yet I still thought it was perfectly acceptable to spend the other 20% each month shopping. That left approximately $0.00 in my account each week to put back into my savings account.
When Steven and I bought a house last August and combined finances, I knew that things were going to have to change. It was no longer just about me and my shopping obsession. I had (multiple) bills to think about including the (very small) amount of debt and car payment that Steven brought along with him. That's when the spreadsheet was born.
I started a budget spreadsheet mainly to keep up with all of our bills and when they were due, however, it's evolved into so much more than that today. I would literally be lost if something happened to my spreadsheet (which is why I have it saved in not one, not two, but three places. OCD much?). Here is a breakdown of how I manage our budget through my beloved spreadsheet.
- In the first column I list every single bill that we have and I put them in order by the date that they are due each month. You'll see at the bottom that I have a few rows that are nearly blacked out. Those are the bills that we have paid off since I started this spreadsheet.
- The next couple of columns are the payment amount (the amount of money I pay every month on each bill) and the balance. I use the balance column only for the credit cards. Obviously my real spreadsheet has all this information filled out, but I cleared it all out so I could show you my template.
- The next column I use for my notes section. As you can see, some notes include things such as if the bill is auto-drafted out of our account each month. I also use this section to hold some usernames or passwords for the bills that I pay on line (which is all of them). Note: Only include personal information such as usernames and passwords if your spreadsheet is password protected!
- The next set of columns are my monthly payments. I list each month out and then indicate whether I have paid the bill for that month of not by writing "PAID" in the cell. I then highlight the cell grey when that money is drafted out of our checking account. Once the whole month is paid out, I hide the column and move on to the next month.
- At the very bottom of the spreadsheet (on row 24) you will see two dollar signs where I have a formula entered. The first formula tells me exactly, to the penny, how much money Steven and I spend on bills each month. That number hurts to look at sometimes. The next formula is how much debt we owe. That includes my car payment, Steven's car payment, and our mortgage. I know down the the penny how much we owe.
So how does this system help us manage and save our money each month?
Well, Not only do I use this to keep track of what bills are due and when, I also use to track how much money is coming in versus how much money is going out. I know that Steven and I bring a certain percentage more money in than we send out (thankfully!). I then distribute that money to our checking account for our weekly "play" money and the rest to our savings account. If, for one reason or another, we have a surplus of money come in one particular month, I use that money to pay off or pay down a credit card.
Some may find this system to be more of a hassle than anything else or may find it a little confusing, but if your brain works the same way that mine does, I would highly recommend giving it a try. It's much easier than it looks! If you have any questions, need clarification, or need something further explained, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm more than happy to answer your questions!
Furthermore, I'm always looking for improvements in my system. If you have any advice or suggestions on how I can make our budget easier to manage, please let me know!
Hi Believe in the Sparks readers! I’m Vivian, and I am a newlywed – which is still so cool to say! I am a student, working toward becoming a first grade teacher, and a dog mom. Take a look around my blog and you’ll find most recently my wedding tales and all of my planning ventures. I love to blog about everyday life, my adorable dog, and now about being married. I hope you’ll stop by.
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