I want to start off by doing a little gloat/self plugging. I now have a Facebook page for this blog! There, I’ll be asking what type of topics I should talk about, sharing my latest posts and of those I like of other bloggers, and brief updates that don’t need their whole post about. I would totally appreciate it if you went over there and hit that like button. Go here.
Now, grab yourself a glass of champagne or cup of coffee, open up your budget (or just a sheets document if you’re new).
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To be completely transparent, I’ve played around with how I budget, and I’m great at planning but can be lazy on the execution. I seriously need to work on my self discipline in those moments, and as I’m learning what I like to work with (and not like working with other things), I want to become better overall with budgeting.
Obviously, this isn’t just to share my perfect solution to budgeting, but it’s sharing what I’ve done and liked or not liked, and sharing my growth with ya’ll, and hopefully you can get something out of it for yourself!
So I’m going to be sharing my set up for September, since August is near over, and I’m kind of fond of September (it’s my birthday month).
My best advice to get motivated to budget towards the end of the month for the next (it’s okay if it’s the first week of the month you’re budgeting for too! I’ve done that a handful of times), is to watch budgeting videos on YouTube, or finding podcasts as well. Learning how to budget, and learning about all the ways you can budget is a great motivator for me. Since I’m still in the learning phase, I enjoy this, and taking what I like into the future, and discarding what doesn’t vibe with me.
I know a lot of people like Dave Ramsay’s method (book, workbook extended book), and if that works for you, awesome! I’ve never got into his method, but I know some of the basics, and it seems like a good, although broad, model. The basics of save a base $1,000, then get out of debt (and keeping that $1,000 in savings), then work on the emergency funds for 3-6-12 months of living, is good.
Living off of just cash though? You could do it, and get prepaid cards for internet transactions, but I don’t think that’s practical. Maybe during that time period, while you’re trying to fix your debts and save, while learning how to budget hard core. But long term, in my eyes, at least post the habit forming years, I don’t see it as a great option for the way society is heading.
To get you into the *lazy way* of learning how to budget, and what you should focus on, and what you may be doing wrong, I turn to The Financial Diet channel on YouTube. I’m not sponsored here (but….I wouldn’t mind future collabs…putting that good vibes out there).
They have shorter videos on the basics, and some kind of longer videos going more in depth on some stuff. If you have the attention span to watch people like Phillip DeFranco, you can do TFD. (For Youtube, I’m not sponsored, at least for now. I’ll let you know when I am! How could I not?!). Anyway, TFD even has a book! I should add it to my reading list.
If you want more of my favorites for budgeting, when it comes to channels, books, and digital or physical planners, let me know! I have so many things to offer and you’d be here all day trying to sort through what I’d offer. I’ll do a mini series even on it, so it’s more palatable!
So for September, this is what I have on my plate for bills:
This month, I’m challanging myself to $75 a week on groceries. I did this earlier this year, in May, right before my trip to CA. Well, the like. It’s a take on Jordan Page’s Shelftember. Check out her Q&A on her YouTube channel. I’m going to tweak it a bit, as we don’t have the greatest stockpile in our cupboards and what room we have in our freezer and 2 small fridges.
This will help on dwindling on our stock, so that nothing expires, and I can stock up on the (hopeful) big haul in late November/early December that my store offers each year. Hopefully it’ll stay. Once that stops, I’ll have to change my strategy. I’ll easily share that process when it comes, for sure!
This will also help me in my planning for the winter months anyway, so I can plan what foods I want/what’s on sale/coupon for winter foods, for warmer hearty meals, and if the power goes out or if we’re stuck in from a winter storm.
I always leave the due date list open, until I know when things are due by. Sometimes I’ll approximate the date. Our electric water, and internet bills are due around the same time each month, so I put those approximate dates in until I get the bill due date. Things like groceries and laundry are a “at pay basis”.
From budgeting, I make a template in a Docs page (use a Word Document too…I use Google for everything, so that first screenshot was a Google Sheets page, and this one is a Google Doc, with a table added, in a 7 across by 7 down, to cover all days of the month, plus a row to put Sunday through Saturday as a “header”).
I added in what days I was doing laundry (we don’t have laundry services on site, so I go and do laundry every other week, so sometimes I’m doing laundry three times a month. Those days I treat as a “fast food” day. We don’t eat out more than 3-4 times a month, 2-3 for laundry days, and once when we get gas in our car.
From there, I usually try to work in what we have on hand (which is usually very loosely, to be quite honest, hence this shelftember is a great challange), and see what I can come up with for meals. This month, I’m going to be diving deeper into using more of the canned goods we have, and using them up. and truly saving money as well as making what we have (since having canned goods and never using some doesn’t help any at all).
Meal planning is what I’ve played around with the most, from just making a list in my phone, to using a monthly wall calendar, to doing this style. Next year, I want to take a whiteboard and write the weekly down on it, and post it on the fridge where we have our current wall calendar.
I want to see if that’ll help any, so I don’t always have to weasel my way through my Google Drive to get to the monthly food outlook. For the record, yes I’m organized on that (folders within folders within folders type).
For “real” meal planning, I camp out in our kitchen/dining room and see what we have, and think of meals. Sometimes I turn to Pinterest and my Trello list of different foods (I have a whole board, sorted into quick meals, longer meals, crock pot meals, winter meals, among other lists). For this month, I’m getting back into seeing what cupons I can print off or have sent to my email, that will help drive down my costs. Here’s what I came up with for this month:
This is most of my planning. From making the monthly budget, adding due dates, and making a meal plan, I just insert into a template of what needs paid each pay period, and write a grocery list for the upcoming week, so that come Monday morning, I can shop.
This is what I’ve found to work the best for me, at least so far. Some people mark down in their calendar when things are due, but I just see when the payday is, and see what’s due, then make payments set for that day.
How do you budget? If you’re new, and haven’t found a perfect/good planning outlook, what have you tried and liked so far?