Many posts on my blog, have shared different aspects that I use when we budget as a family. I know when I first started to budget our money, I read so many different blogs/websites that at times it can feel a little over whelming and at times feel like a lot of work. I thought I would share what our monthly budget routine looked like to put it all in to perspective. I will link to other posts that go in to more detail if you need them but this should be a great starting point to plan out your month.
Look at the bigger picture
Our monthly budgets start at the beginning of the year, we plan roughly how the year will look. We know our monthly direct debits based on what they currently are and roughly what pay will be coming in. This gives you a great idea on what your year will look like, what you need to start saving for, months that maybe more tight and gives you a focus. If you are reading this half way though the year just start it from now it is up to you how far out you go maybe the end of the year or maybe even a year from now but just start. To read my full post on what or yearly budget plans out click here.
Month on month
After having our yearly plan we used this each month as I am not a person to rewrite something as too many spreadsheets or documents (use what works for you) can get lost and overwhelming.
On the last week of every month we sit down and go through the next month on our spreadsheet ensuring the numbers are correct. We then discuss other items and dates that are coming up, is there a day out we have planned? Is there something we are working on in the house? We adjust numbers accordingly to ensure it all fits in.
We follow an envelope system however a few of our large envelopes like the one for the car or Christmas are in bank accounts. We also reduced the number of envelopes we had so we don’t have a clothes or home budget that comes out of my monthly personal budget as some months the children all need clothes and we need nothing for the home and other months I want to get no clothes and I work on an additional home project.
Over the next few weeks I check money coming out of our bank accounts to ensure that it is what we had written down. I check them once a week so pick a day that suits you. The last thing you want is a larger bill being taken even if it is correct, if you have very little wriggle room in your budget. By checking, you can adjust other areas of your budget to ensure it does not make you go overdrawn or make you pick up your credit card. We budget a buffer of £30 (work out one that works for you it may be £10 but it maybe £100) for just this reason and if it is not used it just rolls over to the next month and that OK but it gives us the room we need.
Use what works for you
We use a mixture of Excel spreadsheet and printable’s. We use a spreadsheet for our budget I personally find it the easiest place to plan further out, adjust numbers without it getting confusing and colour code not paid/paid/ withdrawn etc if that’s what you want to do. We do then use a few printable’s and these are more around habits whether it’s an expense tracker to watch items that creep in when we are not watching or goal trackers if saving for holidays, saving goals or maybe you are tracking paying off your debt.
Use what works for you really there is not right way of tracking your budget as long as you are then you are doing great.
So our month looks like this:
- Plan the year out
- Review those numbers on the last week of the month and discuss anything else to add.
- We use an envelope system for everything that is not a direct debit of bill.
- Check your bank, we do this weekly to review the numbers against your budget and adjust accordingly.
- Use spreadsheets/printable’s to reach goals or track your spending.
I hope this has helped make budgeting slightly simpler as it really takes very little time but can give you so much.
Question: Do you have something in your budget routine that you think I am missing? I am always up for adapting our budget to get more out of it so let me know.