Friends, it’s a big day here at Just a Girl and Her Blog– the 2018 Budget Binder is here! I’ve been getting dozens of emails requesting the 2018 version, and today is the day! I share a budget binder each year in hopes that by tracking income and expenses, people can spend less money, save more, pay off those debts and end 2018 in a much better financial position than where they started.
Free Printable Budget Binder
With the holiday bills about to start piling up, now is the perfect time to start getting our finances in check, amiright?!
Want to see what’s included in this year’s binder? Let’s check it out:
A Pretty Cover
Of course it had to have a pretty cover page! 🙂 This year’s cover is cheery and simple, with space to write your name on the provided line.
Goal Setting Sheet
Goal setting is oh-so-important to me, especially when it comes to finances. When Donnie and I take the time to sit down together and write out our financial goals, it puts us on the same page, and we are much more likely to achieve what we set out to do!
Let’s say we’ve set a goal to pay off our student loans in the next year. We’ll write it down on this page, give ourselves a timeframe in which to complete it (by the end of December 2018), and then we’ll list the action steps that we are going to take in order to reach that goal.
Maybe we’ll plan to make a double payment each month. Maybe we can get an extra little side job to make some additional money to put toward the debt. Maybe we can cut down on our budget in other areas like clothing or eating out to come up with the extra cash. However we decide to do it, it’s not enough to just set the goal. We need to have a plan to get there.
These goals and action steps are in the front of the binder for a reason– they’re there as a constant reminder of what we’re working toward. If we’re looking at them each day or week when we’re tracking expenses in the binder, we renew our commitment and drive to reach them. Then, for example, if we’re really tempted to go out to eat instead of just grabbing something from home, we think of our goal. Paying off those student loans will feel better than an extra meal out ever could!
Tracking Recurring Expenses
The next thing I wanted to have in our binder was a list of recurring expenses. This includes anything we pay on a yearly, quarterly, or monthly basis. Some examples might be:
- Loan payments
- Insurance payments
- Utility bills
- Subscription services
- Tuition or lesson fees
- Gym memberships
- Regular charitable giving
- Recurring contributions to savings
If you don’t already have a list of your recurring payments, look back over your last few months of bank statements (most banks provide them online these days!) and write down each bill that you pay on a recurring basis.
You can also also use your bank statements to fill in the amount of each recurring bill (if it varies slightly each month, I usually write down what it is when the bill is on the higher end) and the day of the month it comes out of the account. The small boxes on the right half of the page have the initials of each month at the top; when a bill is paid, I can just check the box to keep track and I know I’m good for another month.
After the recurring expenses were taken care of, I needed a way to keep track of any purchases we make throughout the month. We break down our purchases into categories and budget a certain amount of money for each category. This can be as simple or as detailed as you want, but everything you buy during the month needs to fit into one of your categories. Some of our categories include:
- Eating out
- Household expenses
- Car maintenance
- Fun money (You may want to give each member of your household a little bit of guilt-free fun money each month so they don’t get burnt out with being so strict about the budget– everyone needs a little splurge every once in a while!)
I created a tracking sheet (kind of like a checkbook register) and printed one out for each category. At the top I can list the category and amount of money we’ve budgeted for it. Then I use the chart to record our purchases and keep a running balance of what we’ve spent so that I always know how much we have left in our budget for the month.
(If you’re new to budgeting or haven’t done it in a while, just leave the budget amount blank for the first month and simply track your expenses. This will give you a good ballpark figure for your budget amounts for month #2.)
Note: You will print out a new set of tracking sheets each month.
And finally, at the end of each month, I have included a monthly check-in page where we evaluate how things went. We jot down things that went well and things we can improve the following month so that we know where our strengths and weaknesses lie. There is also room to break down some of our bigger goals into specific goals for the month.
Going back to our “paying off our student loans” example, maybe this month we want to be able to put an extra $100 toward our payment. We can commit to that in this space and write down the specific steps we’re going to take to get there.
Revisiting our goals each month and seeing how far we’ve come can be really motivating and give us that extra push we need to keep pressing toward our financial goals!
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Do you have any tips for getting finances organized? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
*I am not a financial professional. I am simply sharing strategies that have worked for my family in the past to help save more money, and I hope they will be helpful for you as well! Thanks for reading!