Thursday, January 16, 2014

Month 1: Creating a Budget Planner & Making it Work For You

"Budget" can be a scary word sometimes. Even just typing it makes my palms start to sweat. Managing money can be one of the most stressful, time consuming and depressing responsibilities we have in our day-to-day lives. But if we really want to be smart about the way we spend those hard earned dollars, we have to have a plan. And that's where our FIRST Monthly Organizational Task comes in!


On of my resolutions this year {after reading my friend Jeff's book Soldier of Finance and helping create printables for his Money Dominating ToolKit} was to create a budget and STICK TO IT all year long. In the past, I have always tried to manage finances on the computer, in different apps and software and although that works great for a lot of people, I am a paper person. Always have been, always will be.

So I went in search of some ideas for creating and managing a Budget Planner that met my personal needs. At first, my goal was just to create printables that I could use in a section of my daily planner. I thought it would be helpful to have that information on the go with me. And while I do plan to use some of those printables in my daily planner {like account registers and bill tracking}, I decided that my actual Budget Planner needed to be a binder of it's own so that Eric can access it when he wants/needs to as well.

While I was on the hunt for ideas on setting up my binder, I came across this fantastic post on Echoes of Laughter and a lightbulb went off inside my head…if I am going to keep an accurate budget all year long, why not have all of our bills in the same place and make the whole Budget Planner system work together!

I ended up finding the most perfect binder for this project at Target for under $6.


It 's bright, colorful, has 1.5" rings, a fabulous front pocket and best of all…it lays FLAT when open.

Because I planned on giving each of our bills their own section in the binder, I knew I would need quite a few dividers. I found these at Office Max and they come in a 3-pack {24 tabbed dividers all together} and they are write-on so you can erase/change them when you need to.



I actually prefer to use my label maker and because the tabs are plastic, the labels will come right off when I need them to.


While I was at Office Max, I also grabbed a plastic zipper pouch so that I could keep a calculator and pencil in the binder. Our checkbook will eventually make it's way into this pocket too.


Once I had all of my supplies together, it was time to print my Budget Planner pages. In case you haven't been to the shop recently, we now offer our Budget Planner in 3 different sizes. I am using our Large Budget Planner for my 3-ring binder.


Our Large Budget pages are the easiest to print and they have the most flexibility when it comes to deciding which order you want to put them in. We recommend printing your pages borderless, but if your printer does not have that option it is not a problem. It just means the color won't bleed to the edges.

We also recommend borderless printing with our Small Budget Pages. They are arranged two-to-a-page so that you can print them on standard 8.5 x 11" {letter size} paper and simply cut down the middle. The pages can be arranged in any order or quantity that you like, but here are a few instructions to help you with the front-to-back order of our 3-page Monthly Budget worksheet and our 2-page Debt Payment Tracker.


For those of you who prefer our X-Small Budget Pages {made for personal/portable size planners} here are a few helpful print instructions for this set. You can also check out this post for more detail and screen shots.


Once you have all of your pages printed, it's time to start organizing your binder!

The front of my binder starts with our fun cover page...


Which flips right to our Monthly Budget Worksheet. I wanted this at the front of the binder to remind us what is designated to each category. Because our monthly income varies, depending on overtime and extra side jobs, we will work through this worksheet every month and keep a years worth in the binder so we can look back.


Following our Monthly Budget worksheets is a Bill Payment Checklist.


This is the part of our binder that I am most excited about it. I wanted an easy, effective system for paying bills so that none are forgotten and Eric and I don't assume that the other has paid them.

From now on, when our bills come in the mail, we will immediately place them in the folder at the front of our binder marked "Bills to Pay"


Then, instead of just paying bills at random when they come in, I will designate 2-3 bill paying days a month to sit down and go through the folder.

Once a bill has been paid, I will check it off the list and punch/file it in the binder like so.


I made a separate divider for each bill that we have, even if we don't get them in paper form. For example, we don't get a paper bill for Addie's dance studio or Blake's preschool each month, but I still gave them a space so that I can track electronic payments and file tuition forms.


You will notice that I have also made a tab for our checking account and main savings account so that I can fill them with registers to track expenses, withdrawals and deposits.

Also included in our Printable Budget Planner {but not pictured here} is a yearly Debt Tracker. If you are trying to break free from some debt this year, I highly recommend reading Jeff's book and following his blog, Good Financial Cents for some great tips and advice.

Obviously, managing finances is a very personal process and what works for one person or family may not work for another. I have read so many blogs and seen so many beautiful, functional budget planners and binders.  But in the end, I had to go with a system that was SIMPLE {math is not my strong suit} and EFFECTIVE. So if you are looking for both of those things, this system may be for you too!

And I have GREAT news today!!! We will be giving away a set of our Budget Planner Printables to 4 lucky readers!! Enter from now until Sunday, January 19th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Happy Planning friends! 

Stay tuned for lots more fun this January…and every month in 2014!



34 comments:

  1. I love this budget planner set Jen!

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  2. I love this!! It would go great in my Martha Stewart discbound notebook, right along with the Large Size Planner!!

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  3. I love this, My husband is starting a new job, now would be a perfect time to start organizing and setting budgets.

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    1. Congrats to your hubby!! What a great start to 2014!

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  4. This Budget Planner is great! What a nice setup!

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  5. I would love this being a single mom of four and work and going to school this will hep out a lot.

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    1. You are a busy mommy, Tamika!!! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

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  6. I love this! I have a teal quilted arc I'm not using. I love this colorful binder thought too:)
    Kelly B

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    1. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the Arc system and as much as I wanted to use one, I thought a big binder would hold more bills and paper. But keep me posted and let me know how the Arc works out!!

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  7. I am sorry if this is reposting but this is the third time I have tried to make a comment. :/ This budget printable is great. I have tried so many but I am loving your set up. It fits me and my needs. I would use this in my office to cut down on all the clutter I have when it comes to our bills. Thanks Jen for the great idea! I love all of your printables!

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    1. Thanks so much Dori!! I can already see a difference in our bill clutter :-)

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  8. Love this! Simple and effective. And fun to look at while you are paying bills!

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  9. This is AMAZING!!! I have been searching everywhere for something easy and thorough. And it is gorgeous too!

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  10. I think I would set it up just like you have yours! I never would have thought to give each bill its own section, brilliant!

    For the non-paper bills you mentioned, do you print out confirmations to add to the binder or do you have a monthly checklist, or something else?

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    1. Hi Sarah! I do print out confirmations for some, and for others I just use the section to keep tuition information and payment schedules the school provided. You can really get creative and see what works best. Even just checking off the bill on the Bill Payment Checklist would be helpful to show that the bill has been paid for the month :-)

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  11. I would love to have one separate binder for me only budget that I can keep track all my bills and manage my money!! And I'm sure that it will be with me everywhere I go :)

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    1. Even if the large binder is too big too carry around, they make so many ADORABLE mini binders at Target too. They would fit our Small Size Budget Planner :-)

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  12. I would love to have the large version of this system it would help my and my family stay on track and make sure i pay all my bills ontime!!

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  13. This is AWESOME! we have been looking for something to get us back on track!! I love this set up way better than a notebook log.. you know the ugly green lined books at the store. I like color and pizzazz! We are planning on saving EVERY receipt so we can get the most back from our taxes to help with our savings. We have none, no emergency planned savings nothing. So with this YES definitely will get back on track and be debt free!!

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    1. Keeping fingers crossed for your you!!!! I have never been a fan of the ugly green notebook either :-)

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  14. This budget planner is adorable! It would definitely make keeping track of my budget a little more fun! I do, however, want to point out a very small error in the account register. Withdrawl should be spelled withdrawal. I feel like the grammar police mentioning it, but the English major in me made me do it. I'm sorry!

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    1. Hi Lauren! Thank you for catching that. I have been teaching College English for 11 years…I have no idea how I {and all of my proof readers} missed that! But it has been corrected and if anyone reading this would like a replacement page for a previously purchased Budget Planner, please email us at ThePolkaDotPosiePrintables{at}gmail{dot}com.

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  15. I want to make mine look just like yours! Perhaps if it is pretty an functional I will use it more long term!! Love love love what you have done!

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    1. That's my goal too, Carrie! If it's pretty…maybe I will want to open it and use it more. Ha!

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  16. Love that! Maybe I need to put all my stuff in its own binder like you have done! I used to do that years ago but didn't have any sheets and such to help track!
    Excited about your new exercise series and love all the printables!

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  17. This is so cute and so practical. Would greatly help me organize all of our bills in one place so that I no longer have papers everywhere. Especially with a new baby on the way, organizing our finances like this would take so much pressure off finding and paying bills each month.

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  18. Love this! I totally need to do this!

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  19. We have some big changes coming up this year. One being me starting nursing school, and this would help me to budget with our new income that will be coming in. Thank You for the giveaway!

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  20. I have been working on a home binder today, then read your post. I would love to add your printables to my binder. So much more fun when it's prettier.

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  21. Love this idea! I need help organizing our bills, and this is perfect and do-able!

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  22. This looks great! I really need to get a handle on my money and this would be a great way to start.

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  23. I love your whole system here and I would be so excited if I won a set of your printables! I would use this for our home budget and bill paying. I love the idea of keeping the paid bills in the binder with everything else!

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  24. I am working at organizing myself for the new year also. I want to go all year without missing a bill payment and this looks like the perfect way to make sure I don't!

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