8 Steps to a Bulletproof Budget!

8 Steps to a Bulletproof Budget!

I keep talking about how I am worried about going back to work, because my currently okay status quo will get disrupted, and then we don’t know how long it will take for it to start up again. I know I have at least one pay period where I will get zip because of payment in arrears. This is also about the time that Hubby stops teaching for the year, and as he is on call, as soon as he stops, he stops getting paid.

Living on a prayer, indeed. 

People keep telling me that things should be in order by the time I return to work and that people are on track, so I am cautiously optimistic. I’m still working on backup plans, just to be sure!

Building your bulletproof budget

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a budget in some form or another. As a student, it probably was a lot less rigid than it should have been because I always had at least one job to provide for my living expenses.

I started really paying attention as we got closer to our wedding and getting ready to purchase a new house.

Building a budget is not hard at all. You can find all kinds of templates online (Gail Vaz-Oxglade‘s is a popular choice), or you can find a multitude of apps (such as You Need a Budget (YNAB) – if I recall correctly, older versions are free!) to help you track your spending.

Because we have a bit of a wonky income situation, I’ve actually developed my own spreadsheet, using Google Docs, so that Hubby can log in and see where we are at, which he never does.

Income

First things first: ya need to know how many dolla dolla bills ya bringin’ in.

via GIPHY

Sorry. I think I’ve been watching too much Girlboss these past few days. Let me rein myself back in.

You need to know how much money you are making in a given period. Since both Hubby and I get paid biweekly, I list the biweekly amounts.

I also have a section where I can estimate the amount of money Hubby will receive based on the number of days that he teaches:

In the first scenario, $160 daily rate is after tax. In the second scenario, the tax is taken off the $211 daily rate. The amounts that I get here then populate my income column.

Expenditures

This is pretty self-explanatory. I have a section where I list every single recurring bill that I have over the course of a month: mortgage, utilities, car payments, etc. I have a column beside each to remind me when they are put out, how I typically pay them, and then extra columns for me to input when they have been paid, to note any confirmation numbers, and to confirm the actual amount (sometimes they are temporarily high, sometimes they surprise me and they are lower).

DW means Direct Withdrawal

Pay Yourself First

This is advice that I keep coming across time and time again, and it’s something that I try my darndest to abide by.

Right below my expenses section, I have a bunch of recurring payments so that I can put money towards:

  • Emergency Savings
  • Our trip to Disney at the end of 2018
  • Our Christmas present fund
  • Our Education fund (for hubby’s AQ courses)
  • Our grocery and gas budgets

Putting it all together

Remember when I told you earlier that we get paid bi-weekly? I basically take any fixed expenses that fall between our two paydays and put them in my tracking column. I then copy all of our recurring savings/food/gas budgets and add them to the tracking column.

And it looks a little like this:

Income > Expenditures

That’s the key.

In these examples (which are for illustration purposes only), you would take the total income ($4037.01) and take away the expenses ($1853.80). The remainder ($2183.21) would go first towards debt, and the rest towards other savings (kids’ education, retirement, TFSAs, whatever you want!). We’re still in category A.

Easy-peasy, right?

Balancing the Chequebook

I use my spreadsheet as my “chequebook” so to speak.

  • If I pay a bill, I will remove it from my tracking column and update the expenditures column to add the date it was paid (plus the other info if it was paid manually).
  • If one of us buys gas or groceries, we obviously only use part of our budget, so I will debit that amount from the tracking column. (e.g., I usually budget $200/biweekly for both cars, and Hubby tends to fill his up in $20 increments. So every time he tells me “I bought gas today!” I will go in and change the Gas total to $180, then $160 and so forth).

I also have a section that covers our debt.

Debt

I know, I said the D word.

I feel like I shouldn’t be admitting to our shortcomings, but on the other hand, I’m keeping it real!

If you’re not in debt, good. Don’t be like me, and keep up the good work.

If you are in debt, welcome to the club, and let’s get out of it together.

Are we all good? Now that that’s out of the way, let’s continue.

I have a section with our debt, which tallies up how much remains outstanding, what the minimum monthly payments are, and it also calculates the approximate monthly interest charge.

Other stuff

I keep a print screen of our mortgage information (next payments, maturity date, etc) from my mortgage provider’s website.

Finally, I have a section that outlines my “Save $1000 in a year” plan, which is basically funding our Christmas spending money.

I’ve crossed out what I’ve deposited; I’ve had to start keeping a tally of when I deposited what when I started having similar entries!

This method may not be pretty or streamlined, but it has kept me on the straight and narrow.

But there is always room for improvement! 

And we will talk about that next time around.

What are some of your favourite budgeting hacks?

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6 thoughts on “8 Steps to a Bulletproof Budget!

  1. My hubby has developed a rather detailed spreadsheet in Google Docs as well and we use it to keep tabs on pretty much everything. Will be showing him this blog entry to see what kind of tweaking we can do to our system to improve.

    1. That’s awesome! I hope there’s something in here that you find useful ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ll have to let me know if there is something I have missed or if he spots something he can tweak!

      1. Please correct me if I have missed it in the post but I did not notice anything about retirement savings. Unless this is for another post? ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. You’re correct; I didn’t mention it!
          I am slowly saving for RRSPs (it’s part of my fixed expenses – an automated withdrawal every pay day).

          That being said, as it currently stands, I will have a very generous defined pension plan (aka The Golden Handcuffs) and once Hubs gets to being full time, he will be entitled to an even more generous plan ๐Ÿ˜‰

          It is an important thing to plan for, no doubt, but it’s not a priority for us at this point, especially when we have items that are higher priority to consider.

          I can (and probably should!) find someone to talk about it for a future post – great idea!

    1. Hi! I actually did use Mint for a while and abandoned it because it wasn’t working out for my needs. I also don’t know if I am getting more paranoid as I get older but looking back I feel like I was naรฎve feeding my bank information to a third-party site. I still get emails from them every once in a while saying I’ve spent $0.00 this month. LOL If they only knew…

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