PSSSSST. I am about to talk about some seriously scandalous stuff. Like Olivia Pope scandalous (although this last season was kind of meh). That's right, I am going to talk about money. To date, my budget and the spreadsheet I use are the most asked about topic. The questions I get, however, are almost always asked in secret, private Facebook messages or emails: "Treana, can you send me your spreadsheet?" I have tried to provide monthly budgeting and debt updates and will continue to do so because it keeps me accountable. I also would like to think that giving someone the tools that have helped me might, in turn, help them. Alas, here we are-- talking about money.
All of this started when LB and I took Financial Peace University (FPU). If you are married or thinking about getting married, it is the number one thing that I recommend you do with your spouse. Period. The course basically teaches you Dave Ramsey's way of doing things and it saved LB and I's financial and marital lives. I received the following spreadsheet from my FPU leader and have made some tweaks since receiving it. Go ahead and download the blank one and click around on it a little bit.
(We'll wait. Everyone comfy!?)
Last caveat before we get started: you can do all the budgeting you want, but you must be committed to it. Take FPU (have I said that already?) and don't look back.
Let's dive in! Don't worry, you'll be ok. Budgeting is not a punishment. Promise.
You will notice at the bottom of the spreadsheet are various tabs for each month of the year-- this is awesome. There are also two blank budget templates in case you screw up your budget form in a month somewhere. So don't use the templates except to save yourself or if there are magically 13 months in a year. In all of the categories on the left column, the * indicates that that would be a good thing for a cash envelope that you either carry with you or keep at home in a safe (where ours are typically). I only ever carry my grocery/food budget with me.
Let me introduce you all to Mr. Fake Family. He is not real, he is not LB and I, he is a fake person who makes $1500 take home pay every two weeks. Mr. Fake Family has agreed to share his spreadsheet with us! How nice. You can follow along with Mr. Fake Family's spreadsheet by downloading it below. We are doing his budget for the month of March.
First thing I do, er, Mr. Fake Family does, is insert the date where it says first, second and third paycheck. It helps me know when I get paid to schedule when to pay my bills. I then put in my take-home pay for each paycheck (black arrow). Then, since I don't tithe to a church, I give 10% of my income to different charitable causes that I dig. (red arrow) You will notice with the blue arrow that the form automatically adds up the total for each category. This category is Charitable Gifts! Moving along to ER fund/savings. This is where I put my wedding budget currently, but for Mr. Fake Family he is just starting out on budgeting and needs to get his $1,000 ER fund fully funded ASAP. He's got $600 in there so far from selling some speakers and clothes that his Fake Children don't wear anymore. So $200 each paycheck is going into that ER fund-- this does not mean leave it in your bank account. It means, go and pull it out or put it into an account that you cannot see/touch (Chase lets you hide them online).
Next up? Housing. The red arrow below represents a fund-- now these are the amounts that we use for our funds currently. That means each paycheck, I walk my little self over to the bank and pull out enough cash for each fund represented below. A home repair fund and a replace furniture fund-- our furniture fund doesn't need to be that big at any given point because almost literally EVERYTHING "new" in our house has been thrifted, rescued from a dumpster, or gotten off of craigslist. Again, note the blue arrow keeping track of this category's total. As you go along through the month, come back to your spreadsheet and actually track what you spend in the far right column (green arrows). Only spent $75 in donations thus far? Great! You've got another $75 left to give away! Again, note the blue arrow that tracks the total amount per category that you have actually spent. It's fun to compare the total budgeted v. spent columns (I mean, fun is all relative anyway).
Let's scuttle on down to transportation costs-- Mr. Fake Family is WAY over budget in this area-- he does not need a $300 car payment! PAY THAT OFF DUDE! Again note the red arrows for funds; this time its repairs and oil changes for one fund and a long-term fund for those pesky tabs and licensing things that come up with cars. If, at the end of the year, you are overbudget in this area (as we were last year) dump the extra onto either your debt snowball or your repair fund. This is where it gets fun. The black arrow represents the minimum payments that Mr. Fake Family has to make in order to keep his credit cards current. Credit card 1 has a balance of $2,800 and credit card 2 has a balance of $1,800 (we're going to pretend that they are both at 0% interest because interest makes me ANGRY/my head hurt). But you'll notice that he has $40 left in his first paycheck. So his payment to his LOWEST BALANCE credit card should be $65 for this month. This will make his budget zero based at which point he will get a good job notice on the bottom! After Mr. Fake Family has his ER fund fully funded by selling stuff, and working super hard to getting that $1000 set aside, he can take at LEAST $200 of the $400 a month he was putting into the ER fund and use it towards his debt snowball. That means credit card 2 (the lowest balance) would get a $265 payment a month and credit card 1 would keep getting it's minimum payment. I promised fun, and here it is:
- March-- Credit Card 2: $65 payment, $2735 balance
- April--$265 payment, $2,460 balance
- May--$265 payment, $2,205 balance
- And so on, so that by January, the balance would be $85!!!! In less than a year with making no extra money.
Fun right? Again, any extra cash that Mr. Fake Family got throughout the year can and should be plunked down on those credit cards-- thus realistically, he could bump that payment up to $465 (the $65 + the $400 from the ER fund that is now fully funded at $1000). If he started that in April, this card would be paid off in SEPTEMBER! After credit card 2 is paid off, he would roll that $465 into the $25 minimum payment he is currently making on credit card 1 and make a $490 payment starting in October. With a balance of roughly $1800, credit card 1 would be elimated by JANUARY! That means in less than a year, on $3000 a month Mr. Fake Family could be out of credit card debt.
Now, trust me. I screw up my budget ALL THE DAMN TIME. I sometimes even beat myself up about it and get down. But all that does it make me want to buy stuff to deal with feeling bad about buying stuff. So I read Dave Ramsey again, pray about it, and get back on the horse to try again. I don't know have any special training and I don't purport to say that this will work for you or that I follow Dave's plan exactly. But, you can do this. And even if you can't at least you will have tried to do SOMETHING to be in control of YOUR money.
*Annoying Legal Disclaimer: This does not represent financial advice for you or your family. This is simply a tool that you can customize to meet your own needs. Enjoy! Also on Not Just a Housewife!