Sunday, 30 December 2012

How We Budget (Not Gail Vaz-Oxlade Approved)

Does anyone else love that woman? There’s a ‘Til Debt Do Us Part marathon on right now and I can’t stop watching. Because of that, I’ve decided to show you how we organize our finances.  Before I begin, please keep in mind I am in no way qualified to give financial advice. I don’t use fancy spreadsheets (they intimidate me) or figure out percentages of income or anything like that. This is just the simple way that works for J and I.

Part 1: Bills

It starts with a chart. This chart is obviously a working document that changes as our income and monthly payments change. I typically check about twice a year to make sure our payment amounts are correct. When I first started this (as a single girl on a single income) it took some juggling to make it balance but over time I've become much better at making it work.

Here’s what our chart looks like…

A & J’s Monthly Budget

Monthly total: $XXXXX            Monthly pay: $YYYYY           Monthly extra: $ZZZZZ

Bill 1

Bill 2

Bill 3

Our chart is for 12 months but I couldn’t fit that on the screen and have it legible.

I list the months across the top of the chart.

On the left I list all our monthly payments, both manual and automatic. I arrange them by date, starting with the start of the month and going until the end. Both J and I get paid monthly so this works for us. I also include the amount. If it’s a bill that changes I use our expensive month as the amount (for example, for our gas bill I use the amount from January, which is a very cold and therefore expensive month).

As a bill is paid, I simply type “Paid” in the box. I typically pay my bills as they arrive and check about once a week to make sure our automatic withdrawals have come out. 

Part 2: Living Expenses

After we make sure there is enough in the account to cover our bills, we decide how much to spend for the month. This includes things like gas, groceries, toiletries, etc. How much we choose to spend depends on what’s going on in that month but we typically plan about $200 a week if the kids are with us. We take this out of the bank and I do my big monthly grocery shop. We then separate the remainder by week, and that’s it. If it can’t be bought from cash, we don’t buy it. If there’s money left over, we just put it with the next week or towards a bigger item.

Part 3: Other

Once we’ve made sure we have money set aside for our bills and cash taken out to live on, we decide what to do with the remainder of the money. We already have some going in to savings as part of our bills (an automatic transfer) so we don’t worry about that. We tend to use most of the extra to pay off debts (darn student loans!) and to save for bigger items. Right now we’re finishing our basement one stage at a time and as we have enough to complete a step we do it.

So that’s how we budget our money. Step 1: Budget for bills. Step 2: Cash to spend. Step 3: Pay off debts / save for big items. Sure, Gail Vaz-Oxlade may not approve but it works for us. 

*Update: After writing this, I decided to call student loans and see about increasing my payments in order to pay it off faster. It was insane (in a good way)! By increasing my payments by just $101 a month (a very manageable increase) I'll have it paid off in 2 more years. That's over 2 years sooner than I was supposed to. Seriously, an extra $101 a month cuts 26 months off my payments. The moral of this story - it's worth it to pay a little extra to save a lot in interest!

Shared at: Sugar Bee Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, Ginger Snap Crafts, A Creative Princess, Delightful Order, Artsy-Fartsy MamaOrganizing Made Fun

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

My Favourite Projects

I can’t believe Christmas is over and we’re on the home stretch to the New Year. I have a few things planned for the blog starting in January but I thought I’d do a couple recaps before 2013. To start, I wanted to do a countdown of 10 11 of my favourite and/or most useful posts (in no particular order). These are the things that I have enjoyed the most or found the most useful, but ones that were not necessarily the most popular. Click on the title to go to the original post.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Scrapbook Paper Ornament Picture

I shared this project over at Inspiration Cafe last week. In case you missed it, here it is...

Please excuse the shadows. It's dark when I go to school and dark when I
get home so it's difficult to get nice photos with natural light.

To start, I cut a piece of card stock (I love the burlap look) to fit in an 8x10 frame. Next I cut 3 circles out of Christmas paper, making one slightly smaller than the others. To make the circles look like hanging ornaments I poked a hole in each of them with a pen and threaded them with bakers twine. After that I inked the edges with brown ink and then stuck the ornaments in place. The middle one is stuck on using raised dots, which adds a bit of dimension to the picture even after it’s framed, while the other two are attached using glue. Once everything on the front was attached, I turned the paper over and taped down the ends of the twine to the back.

Don't you love the snowman bowl?
I keep my school keys and chap stick in it to avoid filling it with candy.

Seriously, that’s it. As I write this, I’m a little embarrassed by how uncomplicated it is. Oh well. Quick, cheap and easy – my kind of craft! I’m not one for clutter or busy stuff so I love the simplicity of this piece but you could easily fancy it up with glitter, ribbons, buttons, or whatever you have on hand. 

Shared at: 4 You With Love, Someday Crafts