Years ago family budgeting was so simple. People were paid in cash bi-weekly. We took the cash and made up envelopes with totals on the outside of all our bi-weekly or monthly expenses. We just filled the envelopes and what was left over went into our “Savings” envelope. That was a laugh as most paydays only left about $2 in savings but at least we knew all our expenses were taken care of.
As things evolved what with inflation we realized one day that we were keeping to much cash in our home. So we deposited our income into the bank. To keep track of our budget we bought a ledger book with lots of columns. We made up a column for each envelope writing the total amount needed for that expense across the top row.
Each payday we added the new total to whatever was left in each individual column. When a bill was paid we subtracted from the column’s total. All the column headers must total the expected income. If the income varied we made adjustments to the “Savings” column. Some expenses are only due once a year such is the case with property taxes. That expense was divided by 12 and each month it grew.
When starting a new budget it is important to take into account that for example your property taxes may be due in 6 months so you would be short come time to pay them. To rectify this one needs to make a one time only adjustment and double up the payment to that column just until you make your payment and then you can reduce the payment to that account to 12 equal payments. All your column totals should equal your bank balance.
If the total expenses are divided equally by 24 paydays a year those of you that are paid bi-weekly will find that there are 2 months that you receive 3 paychecks. This becomes your bonanza! All that is needed from those extra 2 paychecks is your grocery and gas money. Whatever is left over can go into your “Savings” column. Doing this twice a year gave us Christmas savings from one and holiday savings from the other.
You will also find you are maintaining a nice cash flow in your bank account. How nice when an unexpected expense comes along to be able to borrow from yourself rather than using your credit card and paying interest. Just be sure to make a payback adjustment to that column.
One day I realized I was doing all this work while I knew I had helpful resources on my computer. I now use the Excel program for our budget and it does the math automatically.
If you use this budget system you will often find your bank balance says you have more money than you actually have. But you know what is allocated to expenses. So while the bank tells you there is so many dollars left in your account you know they are spoken for and therefore know how much you can spend on those extras. We often think we have cash left on payday for a dinner out or a new pair of shoes but by using a budget system it may tell you that is not so for this payday. In the long run choosing to run a budget is a very helpful solution when trying to save money!