How I do our budget in 2012

(Sorry if you got an alert on this posting earlier, I forgot the pictures, doh! )

I've done several posts on budgeting, probably most of them have been on how bad I am at sticking to one!
I've made a really nice budget book I was so proud of, and hoped that it looking nice would encourage me to use it and actually stick to it. Yeah that didn't happen. Oh it did at first, but we were never able to build up an emergency fund (or rather I wasn't serious enough about it to put money into one.), so when things came up, we got further and further into the hole.

Well, as I posted earlier, our tax refund is on its way, and I have already budgeted it down to a dollar. No going out and blowing $100 taking everyone out to eat or to the movies. This time we're following the budget I listed in the previous post, and we're sticking to it.  Mainly because we really have no choice. And that's how I feel about our continuing 2012 budget.  We have no choice.  We have to stick to it.

Christopher and I talked and both agreed there are two main reasons we never stick to the budget - we don't get our own personal spending money, and we always buy more food than I budget for. Always. So, I started off with this idea and what limited income we've got coming in the rest of this month and then next month. I'm budgeting more for groceries where I can, and I'm giving the kids an allowance as well as me and Christopher.

In addition, the "extra" money we will now have each month since it won't be going to overdraft and cash advance fees will be going onto old credit card and medical bills. It's embarrassing that we even still have these bills. Some are for Dr visits over a year ago.

But what I really wanted to show you was the system I have set up for the budget this time around... and I can't wait to get starting using!  Our next paycheck isn't until this weekend and it's not soon enough!

So, since Christopher and I had agreed to both be involved in the budget a while back when I had a breakdown over it, I decided the pretty flowery budget book might put him off.  So I switched to this black folder thingy which is really handy.

It unzips to reveal zipper pockets which are perfect for stamps, pens, etc. Then there is an expandable file thing which I've labeled for different things, and that's where stuff goes as it comes in, so when we need to pay a bill, we can find it there. So far it's been working pretty well at least as far as organizing stuff. It's especially handy when it's time to make a house payment since I keep extra envelopes, stamps and the house payment address in the front pocket.

It also has a legal pad that slides out and flips open which is super handy.

Ok, so then when it's time to organize ourselves for the month ahead, I have this binder.  I've had it forever, but never wrote in it or used it. I knew it would be handy, but I never got to the point where I would seriously use it, til now.  I do my budget in a spreadsheet in Google Documents. I think I've blogged about that before and even linked people to it and shown copies of mine. My problem was always transferring what I saw in the spreadsheet to a more portable version.  I considered using one of the girls' tablets for it, but decided it was not a reliable way to do it if they weren't around or it broke, or whatever.  I didn't want to just print out a copy. I needed to be able to change it in the mobile version as well as the spreadsheet if indeed any changes needed to be made.  So, that's when I thought about this binder.  Thankfully it's January so I can start right from the beginning!

I write down the info from the weeks in the spreadsheet onto the lines on the pockets for each month.  I do it in pencil so I can erase stuff and redo it to match any changes I make in the spreadsheet.  I have already had to change a few things.  It helps me a lot though because writing it all out helps me get more in touch with it I guess. Like I need to write these things down to remember them. It works with spelling words in a 9 year old and it works with me.  I like too that I can just quickly glance at the pocket list and see if I have a payment to something coming up later in the money without having to open the spreadsheet. That's been really useful recently as well.

And since they are pockets, they hold the bills of things I can't pay online (and even some I do pay online just so they're handy to see if needed), and then I file them in the filing cabinet after they're paid.

Another handy thing that list does for me is tell me how much money is allotted to certain expenses, like groceries, gas, household expenses, etc.  And that's VERY handy because of this!

I have posted about this handy thing before, when I made it, but I had stopped using it when cash just wasn't an option for a while.  (Again SO glad those days are BEHIND me).

It's a coupon or recipe binder basically, and is a bit beat up, but I taped the rips back together and its good as new. I had found the colorful envelopes and letter stickers to make it fun.

In the front pocket I keep a notepad with a page for each envelope to note deposits into the envelopes and all withdrawals from the envelopes so I can keep track of how much is in each one without opening it and counting it and that way I don't have to write on the envelopes.  There's also a pink pencil, the grocery and household list and menu, and a copy of just this week's budget. It's done in pen and is all scribbled with changes, but currently matches the spreadsheet for the next incoming paycheck at least. I figure that's handy in case I remember the envelopes, but forget the budget binder. It happens.

I've got envelopes for everything I deal with locally that I can do with cash.  Groceries, gas, household, dining out, prescriptions, kids' allowances, school lunches and fees, entertainment/fun, clothing, back to school, anniversary savings, and "extras". I'm actually not sure what "extras" would be since we're doing a zero budget.  Actually I think I may change it to my and Christopher's allowances. We don't have an envelope for that. Perfect. Oh there is also an envelope at the back for the house payment, but it's never on me for long. It goes from the bank to a money order into an envelope and into the mailbox.

So, yeah when we get paid, I can look at how much all the local cash stuff comes to and withdraw that much in cash and distribute it among the envelopes. Then just like Dave Ramsey says, once that money's gone, it's gone.  No robbing Peter to pay Paul either.   I don't want to get into the habit of stealing from the grocery money to put more into entertainment just because there's a new movie we want to go see.  If we don't have it budgeted, then we save that money and wait til the next paycheck when we add to it and can afford it.  Or just wait and rent it. Likewise, if I didn't budget for dining out, or it's running low, then the only way one of us can eat out is if we take it from our own personal money.  I think that would get old pretty quick. There are lots of great things I've been wanting and just bookmarked them thinking, someday....  well now I don't have to feel guilty for buying them if I use my own allowance money on them. I'll know that money wasn't being taken away from paying a bill or groceries, or whatever.

And I think that's why this system will work.  Each of us will be getting our own spending money. So, we'll have that money allotted just for that and the rest of it can go on the stuff that needs to be paid and there's no guilt, no anxiety, no whining, etc.  If the kids want something really bad, then they just need to save it up.  And it's not going to be a piddly amount (well in my eyes anyway). Out of each of Christopher's checks (so every two weeks), each child will get double their age in cash.  So, Rhiannon will get $30 twice a month, so $60 a month.  Not a lot but a WHOLE lot more than she's been getting before heh. Faelyn will be getting $28, and Zoe will get $18 every two weeks. So, I think unless they just blow it every time or dream of buying something really expensive, they should be able to get some stuff they want and still save some money back to add up to get something they really want later on too, like a new phone or bike, or whatever.

We will also be paying to put minutes on their phones starting in Feb. Since I'm getting C a new phone, we're passing down his current one to Rhiannon, and Faelyn is getting a new one (maybe another HTC) for her birthday in February. It's not cheap to keep minutes on their phones, but I really *hate* not being able to get in touch with them when they're not home, and I want them to be able to call home at any time anywhere. It's a security/safety thing, and I am willing to pay for that peace of mind.

I'm not budgeting extra money for holidays like Mothers Day or Valentines Day or Fathers Day etc.  If people want to buy gifts for those days they will use their allowances. I do however have money budgeted for the 4th of July.  not much, but some spending cash. It's our favorite holiday and we always like to have money for the fair food and cold drinks. We used to take coolers and a grill, but they don't allow them anymore.  bah.  Still I understand the food booths need to make money too, especially for working in those trailer or tents in 100 degree weather. Whew!  But anyway I'm getting off topic! (forgot to add, I AM budgeting for birthdays, a nice chunk actually for each one.  Not enough for a laptop, but certainly enough to get them  nice gifts this year.)

I'm budgeting a good deal for Dr bills and old credit card bills, whittling them away little by little. Unless something really bad happens, we'll have all the Dr bills paid off except his Stress Test bill which we'll likely be paying on into 2013. Thank goodness those aren't every year! And that's AFTER insurance! We'll get the two credit cards paid off that are still accruing interest and fees, and then start on the old charged off ones. Our credit rating will be shot for a few years more, they can't do much worse to us, so we'll pay them off as we can and they'll get it when they get it.

So, we won't be totally debt free this year.  I'm not even sure why I thought we would be last year... maybe I figured we'd live on ketchup soup all year and have holes in our clothes. But anyway, it'll be a very good start to being debt free.  We still owe $4000 on the Explorer and we pay $220 a month on it. So it'll be paid off the middle of 2013. I think striving to be debt free by the end of next year is doable. We'll likely have to get another car eventually, but for now I think we're good. *knock on wood*.

Oh, I did want to say... one thing I'm budgeting a LOT on in April, May and June is....a WEDDING!

Corina and Tyler have finally set a date, June 23rd, though I still have to get with my brother who's a pastor and see if he can do the ceremony and if that day's good... and then ask if we can have it at his farm. It's not going to be anything fancy.  They're both VERY country, and I think it'll be really casual, so hopefully it's not going to cost an arm and a leg, but there'll be $200 out of a paycheck here and $75 out of there and then $285... all through April, May and June.  So I can't spend a single dime on it unless it's out of my allowance until April. It might kill me, but I'm going to get some bridal magazines and look at invitations and sit down with her and make her decide what she really wants.  There's a lot of dresses made for beach weddings that are informal and really pretty and flowy... but knowing her she's going to want something out of Gone With The Wind.  So we'll see. Lots to plan and dream and have fun with. I wish Mom was still alive and we could have it at her place like Christopher and I did. It was beautiful.  But I'm sure the farm will be just fine under the big oak tree or down by the creek.  Who knows!

So, forgive the rambling.  It's just how I am. :)  Do any of you use the envelope system? Does it work for you? Do you have any advice? I'm really excited to get into seriously using it. We all agree it's what this family needs. Holler at me!