Budget Series Part 1: How to build a budget

Since I am Organized SAHM, I thought it was time to show you how I organize our budget. I am sure many of you have your versions of this. I am always looking for easier, more organized ways to do things so please share your secrets. This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series I am writing. So there is time for you to share! PS if you would like a copy of this budget, please comment below and I will email it to you so you can get started right away!

Budgets are a very tricky beast. It’s always changing. I feel like I am always moving things around or changing what I thought I had set in stone. That’s how a budget works. If you do it right it’s as simple as telling your money where to go without thinking about it. Paul and I paid off around $36,000 in debt back in 2007. Crazy right? We prayed over every seed that was sown and every check that went out. We give all the glory to God because it was a mountain that we could not move alone. It was a daily prayer and it was God that moved that mountain.

Let’s chat real quick about how you make a budget. If you are married, you are going to have to decide at some point if you are going to combine accounts. We have tried it both ways. I am here to tell you our marriage is alive and well because we have one checking account and one savings account. End of story. Those of you who can operate separately, I have no idea why or how you do it. Now that you have that figured out how you are going to budget lets work on the what. Jot down every single thing that you spend per paycheck. If you don’t know, pull up your bank account on line and start making categories: groceries, food, gas, tolls, tithe, clothes, haircuts, credit cards, mortgage or rent, car payment, insurance, health insurance, doctor bills, lawn care, home care, pest control, and oil changes. These are just some right off of the top of my head.

Next, jot down any income that you can count on coming in week to week. Once you have time to do that it’s time to make a budget that you can work with online and not track on paper.

Let’s build a spread sheet. I am going to include a snap shot of a blank one for you. I use Excel. It’s my favorite for budgets. The formulas are simple and I know it best.

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 10.43.55 PM

Across the top, going from left to right are these columns: Paycheck amount (the amount you get paid each pay check), Due Date (the date your bill is due), Debtor (who you owe money to), Amount due, Highlight if paid/check number (I highlight the whole box if it is paid using the fill bottom at the top of the excel spreadsheet. I like to use yellow for paid.)

Box 2 on the left has $0.00. This is generally where the amount you receive each pay check will be.

Starting in line 4, you would fill out all of those boxes going horizontally for each debt. Below is a example of a filled out spreadsheet.

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 11.02.33 PM

If you click on the picture, it will enlarge for you. I didn’t know if you knew that so I thought I would share that tip. Back to the picture above. I have filled it in with made up numbers to give you an idea of what a filled out spreadsheet looks like. Every other week is a different budget based off of your bill schedule and needs. My pretend budget is planned assuming you get paid bi-weekly.

Notice in the March 8th budget I quit putting money into savings. At this point we are going to assume you have a nest egg of $1,000.00 in your savings account. We follow the Dave Ramsey method, so that is your first order of business before paying off debt. Build an emergency fund of $1,000.00 first then tackle the rest. So, lets say you know (knowing and planning ahead is key in a budget) that you have to kennel the dog for a night or two while you travel for work sometime in March. Go ahead and put that in your budget so it’s there and you aren’t taking from your emergency fund. Again, March 22 budget, you know that HOA fees are due, go ahead and budget that ahead of time.

Go to field F15 it should read $2,481.00. Did I manually add up all of the amount dues to get this number? No. The formula you need to get this number is =Sum(D2+D15). What does the stuff in the parenthesis mean (I only bolded and italicized so you would find it quickly)? Those are the cells that have the amount dues in them. I highlighted from the top down with my cursor so my formula would add those numbers together. Now you can compare cell F15 (what you spend) with cell A2 (what you make). You could go a step further and have it automatically subtract the two numbers from each other to leave you with a positive or negative balance, but I want to keep this simple for today.

If there are certain things or habits that you want to enjoy but tend to over do, budget them with a visa or gift card. For instance, if you are a Starbucks addict (guilty as charged so I have to do this part myself), get a gift card and budget $15 per pay check and charge up your gift card with that $15. Once you run out of money on the gift card that’s it until the next pay check. If your spouse or you like to eat out for lunch, get him or yourself a visa and put that amount you have budgeted just for work lunches. I can’t tell you how many times we use to fight over that very thing. Budget your lunch! Better yet bring it, but I understand the need to network over lunch as well. If you like to get your nails done, budget it. At the end of the day you play with it until you get it to a point where you can afford your lifestyle. That may mean you actually get to see for the first time that you can’t afford your lifestyle and have to trim the fat so to say.

Next week I will show you what our debt buster looks like. Not our actual one, but one with made up numbers so you can see how I track it. Because I am the more organized of us two, I do take care of the budget. We do have budget meetings, we do plan out the order we knock out our debt and the man pretty much let’s me run with it and trusts me to take care of it. I don’t take my responsibility lightly. It is covered in prayer between us both. We will talk more about that next week when we talk about paying off debt.

That’s it. I hope this wasn’t too confusing. Please feel free to ask me questions.

Look for a post from the Man this week about the Marriage Challenge. I am praying for ya’ll. I hope you are praying for me!

I love to hear from my readers. Sometimes there is crickets out there 🙂 If you haven’t yet, please sign up to have my posts sent directly to your email account. The field to do so is directly under the Mommy Blogger Button!


8 thoughts on “Budget Series Part 1: How to build a budget

  1. So awesome! We started the Dave Ramsey plan last year and ended up getting off track. I just sat down today and started organizing my binder for finances. I am very OCD and love things to be organized. I work better this way! I hope to finish my binder soon. I will post a pic on Instagram! So glad I found you on Instagram! I love the stuff you blog about. Consider yourself a God-send! 🙂 Ashley B.

      • Okay! I will be using printables instead of Excel because I don’t have it on my Mac yet. I prefer spreadsheets (much faster!!!), but I am doing it by hand this time! 🙂

  2. Thanks Tara! I will await the debt reduction blog entry. In 2012 I started and stuck with a budget. It was my financial goal for last year. This year my goal is to save more and pay off the rest of my credit card debt by October. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on debt reduction. I have an emergency fund, and I think a good plan, but I am learning and gleaning info where I can.

    • Nice! I’m praying that happens for you this year. Being debt free is very freeing. It changes your life and how you view everything! I’m very excited about writing this debt series.

  3. Thanks for the tips. I just started doing my balancing of my checkbook via an excel spreadsheet. I was overwhelmed @ w paper registry, and I want to trend my spending for maybe two months then try to determine how to tackle my debt. Meeting w a ‘refi guy’ this week to refi the house to a lower rate and trying to determine if I should add in my CC debt. Decisions, decisions.
    Regardless, thanks for the post. Having known you for a while, your posts and life are an encouragement :):)

    • Renee,
      I’ll be praying God gives you the wisdom you need to make those decisions this week as well as favor with the rates! CC debt is like a noose around your paycheck. We are in the middle of chopping away at our noose as well! We can encourage each other on this challenge this year!

  4. Pingback: Part 2: Creating a Debt Buster | Organized SAHM

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