Thursday, 11 October 2012

Keeping track of everything

I do love a good spreadsheet!  

This year, I have been using a big pink lever arch file - a repurposed one which the EFG had been using for Biology - and in it, I have a set of dividers, marked up for each month of the year.

(image from made-in-china.com)

Behind each month, I have a calendar page for that month, on which I can write appointments and commitments for everyone; this doesn't replace my diary, where I have a whole page to a day and can write in more detail, but I use the page to indicate things like "Gym", "Piano" "Hosp 1.30" so that I know what is going on each day.  I usually print the pages from a website like this one although there are plenty of others like this out there.  Of course, people do design their own as well!

On that calendar page, I write the credit cards' due dates and amounts so that I am sure to pay them on time!  We have three cards and keep them all for separate things - I have one for specific use on one particular website, another more general one that I use, and collect points on, and there is one for the FH to use, which I don't use!  They are all paid up each month, quite faithfully.  Once they are paid, the note has a huge tick put through it, and the date I paid it on.

I will also write notes on the calendar page about things like house insurance running out, MOTs expiring or memberships needing to be renewed.  I look at this page every day so it is a good place to make sure I note things that I don't want to forget....

(image from ehow.com)

Behind that page each month, I have a "spending page" where I record all the spending each month.  It is broken down into categories like "Food", "Fuel", "Toiletries", "Books/Gifts/DVDs" so that I know exactly what is being spent in which area.  I also have a column for "Savings" so that I know when I have transferred money over and how much.  At the top of each column is an amount which I would like to stick to [or under] for each category for the month.

This spreadsheet does not take into account the direct debit payments which come out of the bank automatically each month, for Council Tax, electricity, etc and that sort of thing.  All that stuff is recorded on another one, but by focussing on the discretionary spending each month, I can make changes to the budget and to the money we are saving month after month.  These are things upon which we can make more detailed choices and where I find the biggest impact on the budget.  I can't alter the Council Tax, so there is no point worrying about that, and the electricity bill is another thing that I can't alter month on month - although I have lowered it by switching suppliers.

In the monthly sections of the folder, I also file all the credit card bills for that month, any other bills which come in, and are paid that month.  Any important letters from hospitals, schools, etc are also filed in the relevant month, as well as receipts and delivery notes from places like AF if I have a delivery.  School trip letters are filed in the month of the trip, not the month it was paid for, as there is often important information on those letters about clothing requirements and pick up times.

I have gone paperless on bank statements now, but earlier in the year, I was also filing bank statements in these sections.

I have been really pleased with this system for us this year, and I think I will do it again next year, unless I find a better way, as I know that there are lots of options out there.  For me, it is the balance between keeping my finger firmly on the family's financial pulse, and keeping it simple.

3 comments:

Wannabe Sybil said...

This is really interesting for me. I already am building up the notes on my calendar to warn me of impending yearly payments etc. I shall be shamelessly looting your ideas - I hope you don't mind! Thank you. WS xxx

Kim @ Lavender Fields Forever said...

What a good idea. Might borrow it for next year if you don't mind?. I don't get on with computer spreadsheets, I usually manage to press a button and lose it all

Morgan said...

Kim - Of course. I shared it in the hope that someone would find it as useful as I have done this year. I am going to continue with it into next year, but maybe tweak it a little if necessary...Good luck with keeping track xx