Now this is something totally new to me, but after trying it for a couple of weeks I just have to share it with you! Budgeting is NOT my friend at all; is it anyone’s friend really? But slowly, my relationship with budgeting has become a little more civil… With the hopes of travelling Europe and doing a semester's exchange in London next year, I hit the realisation that I need to begin saving… immediately! So, I created my little book of ‘horror’ aka. My DIY budget book!
Now, with this book it isn’t necessarily a budget book in terms of allocating money to particular categories such as food and other expenses, but really it monitors my spending habits which has made me so much more aware of when I’m spending and what categories are taking up the most of my money. Of course some expenses are unavoidable such as regular appointments, but within my spending habits I have found other things that I was spending money on unnecessarily!!
So how does one set up a budget book? Well there are so many different ways, but I’m going to show you how mine is set up and how I use it! So we’ll go through it page by page.
Firstly, I chose a nice hard cover A5 book, I got this one from Kmart for $5. All you need is a simple lined book. I chose the size A5 as I found that it is nice and compact, and I just love A5 notebooks (it's an unhealthy obsession)!
When you open my budget book, the first thing you will see is my key and possible annual income (for privacy reasons I have blocked out the numbers, but you get the idea). I use the key in many different ways throughout my book. It is really the key (no pun intended..) for this whole system to work. To create my key, I made sure that I had a colour for things that I spent my money on the most such as medical and food (uni students always spend so much money on food!). But if you decide to make one yourself ensure your key is targeted and modified specifically for you. I did run out of colours at the time, hence why 'miscellaneous' is left blank, however, I have recently found a nice red pen to use in my book to which I have created as a 'extra' colour in case I need one in the future.
The other part on this page is the 'money section', this is just a quick reference of the money I should be getting every time I am paid. If you are on a casual contract like me, just work out the bare minimum you can get paid that way any extra pay is simply a bonus.
On the next page I have a monthly lay out as well as some data. This monthly spread allows me to put in expenses that I know I am going to have to pay and are not impulse. So I use this for appointments, car rego ect. I also put in how much I get paid each time I am paid – I do this specifically because I am a casual and the money varies each week.
I also have a ‘data’ section for that month which includes the amount of money that I had in my bank at the start of the month and then I will fill in what I have at the end of the month as well as how much I was paid during the month, my total savings and my total spendings. This way I can track my progress to see if I was saving and how I was saving money.
Next I have my expenses. This is probably my most used page in my budget book. Here I put in all my expenses, big and small as well as the store that I bought the product(s) in! Everything counts! I include cash transactions and card transactions in this section (I don’t worry about gift cards and vouchers). This way it shows me everything I have spent throughout the month and with the code section it will show me what my most frequent spending habits are (eg. Food).
So that is my DIY budget book. I will be using the same lay out each month and continuously tracking my progress! If you do decide to try budgeting, make sure that you understand that budgeting isn’t all about spending absolutely no money! It’s about deciding whether spending your money on a particular item is worth it. If you are conscious of your spending, you are more likely to save as you will determine whether you really need what you’re buying! Also look for sales! In the photo above the second thing that I bought was foundation and concealer, that is because Priceline was having a sale where my concealer and foundation were both half price, this means that even though I didn't need them at that time, in the long run I will be saving money since I won't have to pay for them full price!
Let me know down in the comments what you think about budgeting and whether you’ve ever tried it!