Organizing My Finances, Budget Book and New Envelopes

The Finances Weekly Challenge!

My dear wonderful husband Christopher took me to Olive Garden for a lunch date today (with a gift card from Christmas).  It's in the "big city" an hour or so away. It also has the closest Starbucks (isn't that sad?!?), and we went there too and got our fave frapps for dessert (another gift card). Then we went shopping for binders and stuff to do the Dave Ramsey envelope system. I didn't find exactly what I had in mind at Target, but after stopping at Big Lots and Dollar Tree I got some great stuff. Tonight on breaks and when it was slow at work, I worked on it all. 

We started off with this pile of cool looking stuff:

I did the envelopes and holder for them first. They were a lot of fun.  I'd found a set of notecards with colorful envelopes and the letter stickers that were so interesting looking. I ended up with this:

The envelopes fit inside it perfectly, and since there's a little clear window at the top of it, it inspired me to put the names of the envelopes along the top of them and that made them a lot easier to read when flipping thru the holder too. 

In the front pocket there is a pad of paper and pencil for keeping track of what's in the envelopes and what the money gets spent on. Kind of like a check register, but for cash. Then since it had a few dividers but less than the number of envelopes I had, I grouped them, like gas, grocery, and household are all together. 

Since I didn't think to buy more than one pack of the letter stickers, I didn't have enough to write out exactly what the envelopes were for, so I abbreviated some and turned "Dining Out" into "EAT" hehe.  The "Kids" one is for their spending money.  We're not doing allowance yet, but the girls are really very good about not asking for every little thing, they only ask for money if they REALLY want something, usually it's to go to the skating rink or movies, so that's what this envelope will be for. I may eventually have a separate one for each girl, but not yet. I have others like Clothing, B-Day, Anniv, Rx (this is not technically a bill so I decided to make it an envelope since we have to refill his prescripts every 3 months), Fun, and Xtras.  Fun is Entertainment, so like movies, date night (including snacks for datenight so we don't blow grocery money on it), Wii games etc. Xtra is for some spending money for Hubby to get lunch out now and then instead of always packing it.  This is especially good when big wigs visit and the managers go out to eat. I'm not counting that as "Eat" since he rarely does it and it really is and extra treat. Xtra can be for other things as well like when I want to reorganize something and need new containers from Dollar Tree hehe. 

Actually the stuff I got today didn't even come from the paycheck budget money,  I get a prepaid visa card from work and each month we get small bonuses, "rewards" based on our monthly evaluation scores, so I was able to get it all with my rewards card.  That was a nice feeling. 
So, I'll see what I can do about using them this payperiod, but it'll probably have to wait til next paychecks to really break them in. 

I'm really hoping we can do this plan well. We're right in the middle of this pay time though.  He got paid Friday and I get paid today (15th), so many bills have been paid and others still need to be and the extra spending money is in the bank.

Ok, so then I worked on my Budget Binder. It started out as a pink binder with the clear covers and spine with purple pockets on the inside covers. I took the cool scrap book cardstock and cut it to size and slipped it into the covers. Hubby picked a good color, cause it all goes together really well and my new binder calendar even matches and I hadn't thought about it til I got home and put it in there. 
So, here's the outside....

Spine. Ran out of Es and Ts and had my artistic daughter make me two more stickers for this. Love them. :)

Back. (that blue spot is not really there, must be on the lens or something.) I love this paper!

And then on the inside. 
I keep bills to be paid in the front pockets for now. I've got something else in mind that'll go in the binder. It's still a work in progress.  That little note pad is sticky notes very well adhered to that backer board it came on, so I cut it down to size and slipped the board into the pocket so the post it notes are easy to access and use. The inside of the spine is great for the pen and pencil for now.  I will get a new pencil pouch, but forgot to get one til I got to Dollar Tree and didn't like theirs. I want a cute one. :)

That big circle covered thing is the calendar...
I had gotten it for the HMB, but I'm going back to printables for it, and moved the calendar to this binder. I like that you can look ahead in the year and plan for things accordingly. Really helps with figuring out which weekends are paydays, and when we have two weeks without a paycheck or if there's one every week. 

I had wanted to glue paper to the inside covers too, but thought it might not work well and might ruin it, so decided against it.  But I did find a great new way to use the other patters of cardstock I love...

These are tabbed dividers I made by tracing an actual tab divider on the back of the cardstock and cutting it out. I LOVE THIS!

They're not labeled right now. I'm considering getting a nice label maker. But I know what the dividers are for, so not necessary right now.  The first divider after the calendar separates it from the the actual budget pages...

This is for a paycheck next month
I had to hide some of it since I'm sure Christopher doesn't want people knowing what he makes, especially if a co-worker happens to be lurking. So, I blurred out a few of the bills too. Anyway, this is how I do a page for each paycheck. I start at the top with the income amount, then list the bills and expenses that will be come out of it til I get to zero. Now, I have not itemized which envelopes get how much on the line for "Fun, Kids, lunch, eat." Since I'm just starting to use the envelopes, it'll take some tweaking and a learning process til I get it to where I can budget specific amounts. Til, then I play it by ear and learn as I go.  I love seeing that we're FINALLY going to have an Emergency savings. We've decided having that money is more important to us than paying off the cash advances first. So we're keeping the cash advances going til we build up $500 at least, then they get paid off with the next check after the $500 is tucked away. Then after they're paid off, we work on another $500.  After we have the $1000 in emergency savings, then we start working on paying off the rest of the old bills, medical, old credit cards that went to collections etc. Our credit rating is crap now anyway and can't get much worse, so better to make where we are, stable, then start working out way our of it. 

So, the second divider separates the current/upcoming paycheck pages from the ones already passed.
This one I just did for my own benefit subtracting all the bills and expenses that have already come out of Hubby's check we got a couple days ago. I'm noting beside them what envelope they would have been in. I think doing this for everything for a month or two will really help me see how much I really spend on certain things. 

So far, those are the only sections I have done.  I want another one for goals and priorities. Maybe like a dream section to remind us of what we're working toward and what we can do if we're debt free.  I also want a section for things like research on large purchases we want to make or vacations we want to take. 

I know I need one for a spending log, While the budget pages show where money is *supposed* to go, the spending log can show me where it's actually going. This will help with future budgeting and even show me where something is getting out of control and needs to be reeled in a bit. Like if I budget $40 for gas for 2 weeks and I find there's actually charges or receipts for the gas station for $60, then I need to find out if it's just due to high gas prices, or are we running around too much running unnecessary errands that could all be done on one errand day maybe. Just an example. 

Also, I'm going to get pockets for envelopes to mail the house payment, stamps, the check book, and another one for receipts. I'd like to keep a month's receipts in a pocket in the binder.  So, I'd use cash from the envelope to buy something, then put the receipt right into the envelope... then when I do the spending log, tally the receipts, then put them into the pocket in the binder for easy access if I need to access them again that month.  Then when the month is up, I can take them all and put them in that month's folder in my filing cabinet.  

It all sounds simple and easy... let's hope I can actually stick to it and do this right.

I know a lot of people do their budgets on the computer with a  spreadsheet or other program, but I've always done mine on paper with a pencil add it's just how I prefer to do it. This pretty new binder and envelopes just help make the whole experience more pleasant and help keep me organized. 

I hope you all have a good system for your budget and bills, and if not, I hope I either inspired you or you found links to people who do. :)