How to Create a Budget Binder

How to Create a Budget Binder that Works

One of the most adult things you can do in life is to create (and stick to) a budget. Yes, it sounds boring, but it is so important. Money issues account for 22% of divorces and probably just as many arguments. To finally get your budget organized this year you can create a budget binder that works.

Before you quit reading and hide from your bank account, just know that you are not alone. Budgeting rarely tends to be a popular new year’s resolution but it should really be at the top of everyone’s list. Creating a budget binder that works can be simple and basic. It takes the technology out of your finances and gets you (and your family) back on track.

Supplies:

  • Three-ring binder
  • Plastic pocket dividers
  • Pen
  • Calculator

Keep in mind that every person, couple, family, etc. will be different. You will be creating budget binder papers for every expense, savings, and debt repayment. The good news is that there are tons of resources for creating these pages, so you do not need to reinvent the wheel here. Of course, you can also search through Pinterest for the design that you prefer.

How will I organize my budget binder?

Keeping your binder organized will be one of the keys to keeping a successful binder. Messy binders with papers coming out from all over the place will make it easy for you to never open the thing again.

Monthly Budget Area

Your binder should start with your budget. You should have a section for your monthly budgets. Start by recording your income and a line for every bill, the amount of the bill and the due date.

Expenses

After the budgeting portion, you will list your expenses with the budget you have for them. Think of things like groceries, clothes, toiletries and other household expenses.

Behind your monthly budget, you want another sheet of paper to keep track of each expense, what category it came out of and what the running total for that category is. Balancing your budget should happen weekly until you really get the hang of your binder. Even then you will likely be making changes and updates all the time. When you run out of time to write your expenses down hang on to receipts so you can record them later.

Pro tip: keep a calendar in your binder so you can mark due dates in an easy to see place.

Debt

Debt repayment is an important section to have and track. Don’t have debt? Amazing job! Just skip this section until you need it. For everyone else, this is where you track your house payment, car payment, credit card debt, student loan debt, etc.

Be sure you know the interest rate of each of your debts. You can order your debts such that the debts you plan to pay off first are at the front of this section of your binder. That way if you have extra cash at the end of the month you can put it towards your first debt in line.

Savings

Everyone should have a saving section. Your emergency fund should come first. Don’t have an emergency fund? Now is the time to get one together (don’t worry, you can start small and build your way up). After the emergency fund should be your plan for college, retirement, new car, home, vacation or any other event you are saving for.

Savings goals are great to have. Keep a log of every time you add to or take from each savings account. Also, keep track of your goals. Write down a goal date for as many of your savings plans as you can.

Other Pro Tips

This binder is yours. You can have as many sections and sheets as you need. This binder is so flexible that you can design it to fit your lifestyle. Every month will be a little different, so use it how it works for you.

What makes a budget binder work is how much you are actually willing to open it up, add to it and use it. Opening it up weekly is a great way to start getting used to this system. When you go longer than a week, it tends to get tedious and overwhelming. When you keep up with your budget binder, you will find that you spend only maybe 15 minutes updating it.

Final Thoughts

Yes, budgeting is boring and a very adult thing to do. However, keeping your finances responsible will be healthy for you and your family (and relationships). Learning how to create budget binder can work when you work for it too.

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