Part one is here: Budgeting
Today I will discuss my budget worksheet.
Ideally, I sit down once a month to work on my budget and I usually budget for two to three months at a time. This helps me plan for the quarterly utility and life insurance bills and the twice a year car insurance. Plus, in late June I typically pre-pay my fuel oil for the winter.
That is a financial gamble, but honestly I don’t even look at the oil prices once I pay. For me the convenience of not having an unexpected fuel bill or an extra monthly commitment is worth it.
So even though I have just paid March’s bills, I am planning April and May and trying to find money to hoard for summer as once I get that fuel oil bill paid, the teenager will be headed back to school.
As a salaried employee who gets paid every other week, if I plan carefully I can use the “extra” pay period twice a year to pay those larger bills. If I had myself on a strict four-week budget, that money could be used to go on vacation or pay down my mortgage but alas, I am not that good.
But what I do do is sit down with a blank sheet of graphic paper, jot the current date on it, and write “start balance” on the top. That is the balance of my checkbook rounded down to the nearest $25 increment.
Last night it was $508 and some-odd cents. So I rounded to $500.
Now, bills, regardless of how it seems, come in predictable cycles. So let’s just start with the concept and not continue with the budget I started last night.
I would start writing due dates and who I need to pay in a chronological list.
3/1 car payment
3/10 American Express
3/15 life insurance (quarterly)
3/20 water (quarterly)
3/20 sewer (quarterly)
3/24 cell phone
My first pay day in April is 4/10 so that means not only due I have six months of car insurance due before that check, but I also have car payment, mortgage and electric. This is why I plan so far out.
So when I budget, I also estimate my bills, rounded preferably to $100 increments so when they come in under budget that gives me wiggle room and extra money for groceries. In my March budget for example, I budgeted $100 for electric because February is usually cold and dark and I have electric hot water. It was $80 when the bill came in.
And I do the same with my credit cards. I often use my Discover for groceries so I budget $200 a month to pay that card.
My American Express is my card for everything else, like medical bills or an order for the pets at Chewy.com or Petco. I budget $350 for that. Right now, because of my medical bills, I’m dropping $300 on it each pay period. But the point is, I look at not only what I spent on the card so far but what I anticipate needed the card for in weeks to come.
And again, I round. So I might write phone bill ($115) in the first column, but when I subtract in from the balance, I subtract $125.
Then when the teenager hits me up for lunch money I have it.