[ Continued from Previous Page ]

Maintaining your Spending Plan by hand isn't the easiest thing in the world, but with a little dedication, creativity, and a good supply of sharp pencils, it can certainly be done.

(Not that I'd want to steer anyone away from doing their Spending Plan by hand if they really wanted to do so, but it's worth nothing that you can download free Excel-compatible spreadsheet programs from several sites on the internet. Check my Excel page for details.)

Anyway, following are five HTML tables that can be downloaded and printed out for use (or just for simple reference) as you read through the rest of this page. If nothing else, the tables will give you an idea of the sort of work you're in for if you decide to maintain your Spending Plan with pencil and paper.

You can view and print the tables in either HTML (quicker) or PDF format (recommended for printing):

Income Table:

HTML FormatPDF Format

Income Table (Example):

HTML Format  

Recurring Expense Table:

HTML FormatPDF Format

Other Expense Table:

HTML FormatPDF Format

Calculations Table:

HTML FormatPDF Format

At any given time, I like my Spending Plan to tell me four things:

  1. Which fixed recurring bills/expenses I have, and have not, paid so far this month. (Forgetting to pay a bill is a bad thing.)
  2. My expected total income for the month, updated as each paycheck (or other form of income) arrives.
  3. How much money will remain if I stay beneath my budgeted amounts for my recurring bills and non-fixed other expenses.
  4. How much money is remaining right now, factoring in what I've already spent, plus any expected expenses/bills that I haven't yet paid.

Using the tables above, you'll want to create a new Spending Plan on the first or second day of each month. Here's the step-by-step process (which I'm sure some of you will improve upon immediately), for which I strongly suggest using a pencil to fill in your Spending Plan tables:

Using the Income Table

Begin by filling out the Income Table. Enter one paycheck per line (in my family's case, that'd be five or six per month), estimating as best you can if necessary. Leave a few blank spaces so that you can enter any unexpected income that might appear later in the month (product refunds, found money, medical expense reimbursements, money gifts, etc.). Total up your expected income for the month in the designated space at the bottom. (Here's an Example Income Table you can take a look at if you wish.)

Using the Recurring Expense and Other Expense Tables

On the Recurring Expense Table, enter all of your fixed recurring bills/expenses, along with the amount you're budgeting for each. Then, using the Other Expense Table, enter all of your expected non-fixed other expenses and the amounts I'm budgeting for each of those.

Remember to always leave some blank rows for both of your expense categories — but especially for "Other Expenses." It's a guarantee that unexpected expenses are always going to meander into your life.

Once you've entered all your expenses and planned their amounts as best you can, you're pretty much ready to let the month happen. As you pay your family's bills and expenses, enter the amounts into the "Paid Amounts" columns as necessary. Obviously, with some "Other Expenses" like groceries and household items, you'll usually buy them more than once per month. That's why there's more than one "Paid Amount" column for these.

Using the Calculations Table

At this point, I'd like to think that filling out the Calculations Table would be pretty self-explanatory. Figures for the first seven boxes come straight from your other three HTML tables (now at least partially filled-out, hopefully). The last three boxes require a little math, but they're the cornerstone of your Spending Plan, telling you exactly what you need to know about where you stand financially for the month.

At this point, if you think you'd rather use a spreadsheet program (such as Excel) to build your spending plan, click here.