Ever since I can remember, I have been an organiser. I make lists, tick off things, file things and sort things into categories; organising aspects of our life makes me happy. I used to love the start of term at school, when you could buy your new pencil case with pencils and pens, a new notebook for those all-important scribbles, and the various things listed by school which were deemed necessary for the next school year. It was an especially good year if I could get a new gel pen that had a particular scent (does anyone remember those?) as I knew that other people would have them and I wanted to be just like them. I remember taking the time to neatly arrange all of my new things in my school bag, ready for the start of term. How sad was I?!
But, that organising streak within me has helped me no end in terms of our finances, right from the point when me and my husband merged our finances. Even before that, when budgeting at university on a severely restricted pot, organising and keeping track felt natural, and helped me to not go over budget. At university, I had a notebook that I carried everywhere with me and wrote down every single spend; I still have those notebooks at my mum and dads and occasionally like to look at them – I could survive on quite a low amount it seems! I realise I’m not making myself sound very cool in this post so far…. 😉
Anyway, organising and being knowledge about our finances means that we, most of the time, meet our monthly goals that we have aimed for during the month. I believe that knowing just what happens within our finances leads you to success, as knowledge is power when it comes to spending within your means. If you know how much is coming in verses how much is going out, then you can make changes where necessary.
Here are 3 ways in which I organise (and simplify) our finances:
1) At the beginning of the year, I do a financial forecast and plan our budget for the year. Using a very simple spreadsheet, I try to plan ahead for the entire year, looking at what I want to achieve by the end of the year. I start off with inputting fixed costs, such as our mortgage payment, council tax, water rates and gas/electric, then input rough amounts for everything else. Then, throughout the year, I update this spreadsheet and it keeps us on track.
Related post: How Our Budget Works + A Free Budget Template!
2) I know exactly what is scheduled to go out and when. Most of our Direct Debits go out on either the 1st or the 8th of the month, every month. All of this is automated so it happens without me having to worry about it, plus is it exactly the same each month so there are no surprises. I know that on the 1st of the month, our mortgage payment of £481.85 goes out; there is nothing surprising about that. I had to ring a couple of companies to change the date our direct debit went out, but it was so easy to do and I like to get all of the big bills done at the beginning of the month. I have a tab on my spreadsheet with the dates and payments that go out every month, which is updated when necessary.
3) I check our online banking every other day. This is to check that nothing out of the ordinary has happened to our various bank accounts, but also to keep track on our overall finances and net worth. I honestly cannot remember how it used to be before internet banking; going to the bank and getting a little receipt from the cash machine seems like such a rubbish way now! We don’t have any paper statements through the post, in an effort to simplify our lives a bit more, but when we did, I used to sit and go over those once a month too, to make sure nothing unusual stood out.
So there you have it! Three ways in which I organise our finances, which means we can keep on track with our yearly and monthly goals. Knowing what happens to your finances day in, day out can really make a big difference to how you feel in general about finances and budgeting. If you tend to bury your head in the sand, or not check your online banking often, then if something were to disappear, you might not even know. Plus, if you know what’s supposed to go in and out, then you’re more likely to stick to a budget – win!
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How do you organise your finances? Have you got any tips for a beginner?