*Pictures soon to follow*
Any money-savvy housewife (or husband) can tell you that the number one key to saving money is budgeting. The only issue with this is that there are so many different ways to budget. From Pinterest, I’ve pinned at least 20 different budgeting methods. They can all work for you but there’s only one out there that is going to be perfect for your family.
What worked best for us was a compilation of multiple budgeting systems I found.
Ameer and I started with a mix on Dave Ramsey’s envelope system. Rather than use actual envelopes, we used clear sheet protectors with the name of the bill, the amount of the bill, and the due date written on it. At the beginning of each month, we would put cash in each envelope for all of our bills for the month and that would be it. I can certainly understand and respect the envelope system– it’s worked for thousands of people and that’s fantastic however for us, it just wasn’t comfortable.
The main issue with it was this: we don’t like to pay with cash. I am very aware that many budget-savvy people claim that if you use your plastic, you’re more likely to overspend however this isn’t true with us and cash isn’t feasible for my family. We pay most of our bills online and we save money by having them auto-deducted. The only bill we pay in person is our rent and that has to be paid via check. To stick to this envelope system, we were running to the bank at 9 PM on the 30th or 31st to deposit money from our envelope in order to pay our rent via check. It was a pain.
So I decided to try something new. I already knew that I have no problem staying within my limits when I use my charge cards (we usually pay with one of our credit cards and then pay it off the following week so that we’re building credit as we’re currently in the process of house-buying and want our credit to be as awesome as possible.). An important thing in a budgeting system is having something that be seen; my husband is a very visual person. He needs a place he can flip to and literally see: Oh, these are the bills that are due this week.
I combined a group of different Pinterest ideas to make what made the most sense to me. I knew I needed a schedule, I wanted a monthly timeline and I also wanted a place where I could cross out that month so I could clearly see that we’d paid that bill for the month. I needed a place for bills that needed to be paid, a place for notes, and a place to file all the old bills of the year to return to if need be.
Thus, our budget system was born.
You will notice that I have not included groceries. This binder is specifically for our bills that we pay monthly. I will make a post at a later date about my grocery system.
We have four main tabs, each with it’s own tabs within.
Tab one is called “schedule”. The first picture is where I wrote down all of our bills that we have. Next to the name of the bill is the due date for the bill. You will notice, there are 12 boxes next to each bill for each month. Once the bill is paid for that month, I check it off. This is an easy way for me to make sure that all of our bills were paid at the end of the month.
The following sheet(s) (there’s 12 of them total) are another kind of schedule. This is a calendar. On the calendar, we write down the bill in black pen for each day that it’s due. Once we’ve paid it, we highlight it so that we know it’s been paid and we can check it off on our previous sheet. The calendar part of the Schedule tab in our budget binder is literally the only budget system that Ameer uses. If he was single, I honestly believe he would do very well from simply having a calendar. Once upon a time, he was always asking me when bills were due and was always stressed out that he was missing one however now he just flips to that month’s calendar, looks at the bills due for the week and makes sure that none of them are high lighted (meaning they were already paid).
The next tab is for bills that need to be paid. In this tab, we have only one clear sheet protector. Any bill that I receive in the mail, I place into this sheet protector. I wait until the bill has been paid and then I file it in a different section.
The next tab is titled “Notes”. In this section, we have about 1/4 packet of loose-leaf paper to jot down any important reminders (i.e. consolidate student loans; Ameer’s mom is paying Civic car note for July as graduation gift, check on 22nd to ensure it was paid). We write ANYTHING in here that is related to our bills so that we don’t forget it. Every time I pay a bill, I refer to this section. I also have some random notes in this section such as login names for online bill pay and account numbers.
The last tab is for filing bills and is titled “Past Bills”. Each bill has it’s own tab so it can be easily found along with a clear sheet protector to place all of the bills in. Each new bill goes in last so that if/when I pull them out to refer to, I have a neat stack that starts with January and goes back to whatever month it is. In front of each sheet protector is one sheet of loose leaf with anything important about that bill (i.e. for Sprint– save $10 each month by auto-deducting). The only two sections in this tab that aren’t actually bills are “Pay Stubs” and “Miscellaneous”. Obviously, Pay Stubs is for all of our pay stubs (there are three different sections in there, two for me as I work two different jobs and one for Ameer) and Miscellaneous is for anything that I feel pertains to our bills but isn’t actually a bill.
This is my family’s budgeting system. It works very well for us and we never miss a bill because of it. I’m sure that to many, not having a grocery section seems insane. Read about what I do for groceries here.