Tag Archives: Budgeting Forms

How to Create a Bulletproof Budget – Part IV

Roughly 60% of Americans do not have a monthly budget. Hopefully, this series is helping you make your way over into the 40% of America that does track their income & spending. Today we’re wrapping up our 4-part series on “How to Create a Bulletproof Budget.”

If you need a budget template to help you get started, feel free to download ours here in either the Excel version or the PDF version. Here’s a picture of the budget for a reference as we go through this.

As you recall, Step One is to determine your monthly income. Today we’re going to finish Steps Two & Three! We’re picking up where we left off in Part 3, which is in the Debt section. Let’s get started!

Step Two: Determine your Monthly Expenses

Debt: Our hope for you is that your hatred for debt and your desire for freedom will eventually eradicate this section from your budget. We weren’t created to live in debt, regardless of how accepted it may be in our culture. For now, consider this section in your budget as a temporary necessity that will eventually go away as you pay off your debt. While this section is very self-explanatory (simply fill in the section with the amount you owe each month), we recommend reordering your debt in one of two ways:

  • Debt Snowball: This is the approach recommended by Dave Ramsey. Basically, you start by paying down your smallest debt while paying the minimums on everything else. Once that debt is paid off, you take the amount you were paying on that debt and put it towards the next smallest debt, and so on. The benefit of this is more psychological than fiscal; by paying off your smallest debt first, it keeps you motivated and encouraged by making quick progress.

  • Debt Avalanche: In this method, you pay off your debt starting with the highest interest rate first and working down towards the lowest interest rate. This method makes the most financial sense as you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars over the long run, but it does take some emotional discipline as you won’t always get the shot of motivation of paying off a loan fast.

Beth & I actually used a combination of the two methods. We started with the snowball method, because we had several small debts (less than $2000) that we just wanted to pay off quick so we could focus on the bigger ones. After eliminating these smaller debts, we switched our strategy to the avalanche method, and began paying down the debt with the highest interest rate, which happened to be a Citibank credit card.

We found a spreadsheet online which allowed us to order our debts in various ways to see how long it would take us to pay them off and how much interest we would lose or save by using the different payoff methods (snowball vs avalanche). We were able to calculate that we would save over $2000 in interest by switching to the avalanche method. Click HERE to go to Vertex42 where you can download their Excel debt reduction spreadsheet (it’s free), which is the same spreadsheet we used.

Step Three: Determine what to do with the Leftover Amount

Budget Totals: If you’re using the budget template in Excel, than the budget totals section should already be filled in with the correct amounts, showing you the total monthly income, expenses, and any leftover amount. Hopefully the leftover amount is a positive number. If it’s negative, it means your expenses exceed your income, and you’ll need to figure out how to either generate more income, or cut your expenses.

Assuming that the leftover amount is a positive number, then this final step is to determine what to do with that amount. There are really only five possible options:

1) Emergency Fund: If you don’t have an emergency fund of at least $1000, then any leftover amount should go towards this. If you have a bigger family, I would suggest a higher emergency fund.

2) Pay off Debt: Once you have an emergency fund in place, we suggest using any leftover amount to pay down your debt, either using the snowball method or the avalanche method.

3) Save: Once the debt is paid off, we suggest you save up 3-6 months of living expenses. This is a safeguard to cover any bigger emergencies, such as health or loss of income issues. After you have this reserve built up, you can begin to focus on saving for other investments, retirement, etc.

4) Invest: Too many people start building the house (investing) before they have the foundation ready (savings). I’m sure some will disagree with this, but we encourage people to hold off on saving for things years down the road until you have 3-6 months of living expenses saved up. Sadly, most of us know people who have had a financial setback or emergency and had to pull money out of their retirement fund because they didn’t have enough in savings.  Build your foundation first.

5) Spend: Most of us are experts at spending, so not much explanation is needed here. One encouragement though would be to not lose sight of generosity. We encourage generosity, even when you have debt. Giving is a powerful tool that helps break the power that money can have over someone’s life. More on this to come in later posts.

Date Night!

We like to end our Weekend posts with a few thoughts you can take into your date night with your spouse. Since this post is a little longer than normal, we’ll just leave you with a couple of quick thoughts to discuss with your spouse:

1) What is the best payoff method for our situation (snowball vs. avalanche)?

2) Out of the five possible options we can choose, what is the best decision for how to use our leftover amount?

Well friends, we hope you’ve enjoyed this series! As always, please drop us a line below in the comment section! If you’ve benefited from these posts, please help us spread the word on Facebook & Twitter.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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How to Create a Bulletproof Budget – Part III

Hello and welcome back! Today we’re continuing our series about creating a bulletproof budget.

If you haven’t downloaded the budget template yet, you can download it here for free, either as an Excel document (recommended) or a PDF document. Here’s a photo of the budget you can reference as well as we go through this.

Excel Budget Template  PDF Budget Template

If you’ve been tracking with us, then you’ll recall that there are only three simple steps to creating a budget: 1) Determine your Monthly Income, 2) Determine your Monthly Expenses and subtract this amount from your Monthly Income, and, 3) Determine what to do with the leftover amount (savings, giving, investment, debt snowball, etc).

We’re in the middle of step 2, and today we’re going to pick up where we left off on Monday, which is by going through the sections on the right column of the budget. Let’s jump right in!

Step Two: Determine Your Monthly Expenses

Living & Heath: You’ll notice that most of the budget is comprised of bills that involve your stuff (car, house, etc). This section focuses more on the expenses that involve taking care of you, such as food, clothing, personal money, etc. Here are some tips for navigating this section:

  • Grocery: When people try to make budget cuts to save money, they usually start with their grocery budget. We would actually caution against this, and here’s why: You will either pay for your health now, or you will pay for it later. Cheap = Unhealthy. If you shop cheap and buy junk because you “can’t afford healthy food” you just need to realize the incredible hidden costs to that decision and perhaps add a new line item to your budget for future medical bills.

  • Restaurants: If you really want to cut expenses (and some extra pounds), then here’s your chance to go crazy. Most people, especially those who don’t track their expenses, spend way too much money eating out. When we do our budget, we set aside $60 a week for eating out, which includes coffee therapy (Starbucks).

  • Entertainment/Dates: We budget enough each month for us to have a date night once a week. Right now, that’s $40 a week so we can eat out somewhere nice and not have to worry too much about price. When we were aggressively paying off our debt, we had an “eating out” budget of $30 a week, which included restaurants, date night, Starbucks, etc. Some people cut “eating out” completely out of their budgets so they can make more progress on the debt. But for the health of your marriage, we absolutely never suggest cutting out a weekly date night. Get creative and you can find some amazing free & romantic things to do every week.

  • Salon/Hair/Toiletries/Makeup/Clothing: These are all pretty self-explanatory, but here’s where some understanding and good communication is needed as gender differences will tend to creep up and cause tension.

    First a word to the guys: Your wife is designed by God with a deep need to feel beautiful. You’re not. Therefore, it isn’t appropriate for you to expect the same clothing or hair allowance as your wife. Sure, we should all make sacrifices when it comes to dumping the debt, but just understand that it is completely okay, and some would even argue needed, for your wife to spend more than you on these items.

    With that said, ladies, don’t go crazy. If you’re buried in debt, you don’t always need a pair of shoes to feel beautiful. Sometimes insecurity in both genders can lead to overspending in these areas. If you can understand that you’re wired differently, and you’re both willing to make some sacrifices, you can find the right balance on every one of these line items.

  • Personal Money: We’re going to skip the next three rows as they’re pretty self-explanatory, and jump to personal money. Having a personal budget is one of the secret keys to resolving financial stress in your marriage. Even if you’re buried in debt, we still recommend a small personal budget (maybe $10), just so you can maintain a sense of control and freedom, knowing that you can go out and buy something you want without needing an agreement from your spouse. For an in-depth explanation about this, check out our first post titled Three Ways a Budget Eliminates Stress and creates Freedom in your Marriage.

Stay tuned for the final post in this series on Friday!We’re going to wrap this series up on Friday by discussing the section about Debt and and going over step three. We’re working on some podcasts and we’re definitely going to cover this topic, so if you’re more of an audio learner then we got you covered!

As always, feel free to post a comment with any feedback, comments, or questions! What are you thoughts on the best way to cut expenses out of the budget? We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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How to Create a Bulletproof Budget – Part II

Welcome to a new week! As promised in Friday’s post, today we’re going to go step by step through the process of creating a bulletproof budget!

If you didn’t download the budget template on Friday, you can download it here for free, either as an Excel document (recommended) or a PDF document.

Excel Budget Template  PDF Budget Template

As you recall, there are only three simple steps to creating a bulletproof budget.  We have a lot to cover, so let’s jump right in.

Step One: Determine Your Monthly Income

This section is for you to add up 100% of your financial income for the month. We provided four different rows for you to input your income: salary, tips, bonus/dividends, and miscellaneous. Most of you will only need the row for “salary,” and I recommend deleting the other rows if not needed.

Don’t worry (yet) about what to do differently if you get paid twice a month. For now, just add up your total income for the month.We’ll address some of the frequently asked questions later this week. (On a side note, Beth & I get paid twice a month, and we use a budget very similar to the template. We set our budget on the 1st of each month and then revise it as needed on the 15th of each month when we get paid again).

Step Two: Determine your Monthly Expenses

Here’s where the fun begins. You’ll need to go through each section and fill in your anticipated monthly expense for that item. Here’s a breakdown of each section, along with some helpful tips.

First Fruits: I call this section First Fruits based on the Biblical principle of giving God our best and our first.

  • Tithe/Giving: The topic of tithing is really for another post, but I highly recommend continuing to give and cultivate generosity even when you’re paying off debt. It is a monthly reminder of who really is in control of your life.

  • Savings: If you don’t have an emergency fund of at least $1000, then try to save some each month until you do.

  • Buffer: This is a little protection added to the budget to protect you from going over and possibly incurring overdraft fees. We recommend always having a $100 buffer in your checking account.

Home: Most of this is self-explanatory, however, here are some highlights:

  • Taxes/Insurance: These are usually paid yearly, so you’ll need to find out the yearly expense and divide it by 12 to get your monthly expense. If you pay this through your mortgage (escrow), then simply delete this row.

  • Maintenance/Repairs: This is a budget buster. When people don’t budget for home repairs and their A/C breaks, guess who pays the bill? Usually Visa. We recommend setting aside $50 a month for this category.

  • Household Goods: This includes cleaning supplies, light bulbs, toilet paper, etc. We actually group this into our grocery category since Beth buys all of these items when she is grocery shopping, however, a lot of people like to keep it separate, which is why we included it here.

Transportation: You’ll notice we don’t include “car payment” in this section. That is because your car loan is debt and it should be viewed as such. We have a serious problem in America of thinking that a car payment should be a permanent line item in the budget. If you’re serious about freedom, then you have to see your car loan as bad debt and not “normal.” (Remember, normal in America equals being in debt)

  • Insurance: Similar to your home insurance, this is likely paid yearly, biannually, or quarterly. If it is not paid monthly, then you’ll need to do some math to figure out your monthly expense.

  • Gasoline: Have no clue what you spend each month on gas? Look at your bank statements for the last couple of month’s to get a pretty clear picture of what you’re spending.

  • Maintenance/Repairs: This includes tires, oil change, etc. We recommend $50 per month. This doesn’t mean you spend $50 each month…only that you’re saving $50 each month for this item. That way when you need new tires in five months you won’t have to use your emergency fund to pay for them.

To Be Continued…

That does it for the left side of the budget. We’ll cover the column on the right on Wednesday. (We try to keep these posts short enough for you to read in about 10 minutes or less…we know you’re busy…hopefully breaking everything into three parts doesn’t drive you crazy).

Please post a comment below including any questions you may have so far which we can address in the upcoming posts! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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How to Create a Bulletproof Budget – Part I

Have you ever seen news coverage about a sinkhole? Usually they show pictures of some huge hole that opened up, swallowing vehicles & buildings.

Here’s the funny thing about sinkholes…they don’t happen overnight. Sure…the collapse happens overnight. But the actual erosion of the earth which caused the collapse has been occurring for weeks, months, and even years, often hundreds of feet below the surface.

While sinkholes are sometimes a surprise, they usually leave clues. Cracks in the tile floor, a leaky pool, and stair-steps in the stucco are all little signs of a possible sinkhole, which most people confuse as simply settlement.

Most homeowners ignore the cracks and the leaky pool. It’s easier to assume it’s just a little settlement than a sinkhole. In the same way, most people avoid creating a budget. They don’t really know where the money’s going, they just know they never seem to have enough. So they slowly sink further into debt, not realizing it’s just a matter of time before the collapse.

If your finances are a mess, and you’ve never created a budget before, you may be in for a little dose of reality. It may be painful. It will probably be ugly. But…the truth will set you free. So summon your inner courage, grab a calculator, and let’s go!

First Things First: Download the Debt To Life Budget Template

The easiest way to explain this is for you to actually complete each step as we go along. To help you do this, we created a very simple, yet comprehensive budget which you can download for free and fill out as we go along.

We created two versions for you, one in Microsoft Excel, and one as a PDF document which you can save and/or print. I recommend the Excel version because it does all of the calculations for you. It is also very easy to edit and customize. (Don’t have Excel? Download Calc, which is Open Office’s free version of Excel; visit Open Office for more info). Click below to download the budget template.

Excel Budget Template  PDF Budget Template

 The Nitty Gritty

As we go through this process, the temptation is to over complicate everything to make sure we don’t miss anything. Remember the first quality of a bulletproof budget? Simplicity. Resist the urge to make this harder than it should be.

There are only three steps to creating a budget. We’ll go through them in depth in Monday’s post, but here they are in all their glory:

#1: Determine your Monthly Income.

#2: Determine your Monthly Expenses and subtract this amount from your Monthly Income.

#3: Determine what to do with the leftover amount (savings, giving, investment, debt snowball, etc).

If there isn’t any “leftover amount,” figure out a way to revise #1 or #2 so that you are at least breaking even. We’ll address later next week what to do if your expenses continually exceed your income.

In the meantime, go ahead and download the budget spreadsheet. We’ll go through it in detail starting Monday, so over the weekend it would be good to review it and make sure you have all of the needed financial information in order to fill in the correct amounts next week.

Date Night

It’s Friday, and that means date night’s coming! There’s nothing more romantic than whispering sweet nothings to each other about budgets and balance sheets! This weekend’s Date Night is pretty straightforward. Simply print out two copies of the budget above (or your own if you have one), and review it with your spouse. As you do, try to think of creative ways to earn extra income, make extra cuts out of the expenses, or quickly knock off some of the debt.

We’d love to hear from you! Please post a comment below about your thoughts on creating a bulletproof budget! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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