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How to use a columnar pad (or related tool) for financial planning/recording . . .

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I have come to the realization that, although I love computers, I need paper to keep track of things. I went out yesterday and shopped for my new perfect planner and then I headed over into other areas to organize our financial junk.

I remember using a large columnar pad when I used to work in a pro shop while in college. We categorized different types of sales: tennis balls, rackets, clothing, Gatorade, beer, lessons . . .

I used to LOVE tallying everything at the end of the month. I LOVED finding the place where there was a mistake that kept those numbers from equaling and fixing them. (Why I didn't take a bookkeeping course I'll never know.)

I ought to be able to use something like that to take charge of my budget, right? No excuses like the computer crashing to get behind or lose the info and have to keep starting over, right?

I paid a pile of bills yesterday and know where we are right now. But when dh asked how much we are paying for utilities, for example, I shrugged. That's not the way I want our finances to be! I want to PLAN instead of playing it by ear. To remember when the big bills are coming around. You know?

I know there are tons of computer programs for this. I've tried Quicken and YNAB and they just don't fit the way I function.

So . . . I need tips to set this up on paper. Do I need one of those pads? Or some special printable forms?

Any handy advice or websites?


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Get the book Your Money or Your Life. It talks about the little things, like writing down everything you spend, and the big ones, like how to know whether you are making financial progress.


Then work on making three lists. One is the monthly bills you always get. One is the recurring but non-monthly bills. One is the miscellaneous stuff that is hard to budget for, like car repairs and wedding gifts.


One you have all these lists, try to assign an estimated cost to each one. Take the second two lists, add them up, and divide by 12. That is how much you need monthly to pay for things that don't happen every month. If you save that much each month for a while, those bills and costs won't be such a shock anymore. Also, this enables you to start getting a handle on whether you are really ahead or behind in a single month. A month with no major insurance or Christmas presents bills, for instance, can feel like a month where you're ahead even if you're really not. If you save during that month for the other ones, you will have a much more relaxed financial life. Also, you will be able to start driving major expenses down once you see what they are.

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I don't think you need a special form, but I do like Flylady's FACE pdf. (Financial Awareness Continually Empowers) If you're just starting to make your budget this is a great place to start and help you organize what you pay, where you do it, and preparing for later. After reading through her stuff I ended up with Dave Ramsey but she is good for just starting out. It walks you through everything.

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