Let’s talk for a second about the ideal budget plan. Whoever has one, raise your hand. Hello? Anyone? Bueller?
For me, the ideal budget plan would have the perfect amount in each category from month to month. What I mean by that is that I would have collected enough data over time so that I would know, for example, how much auto gas we need each month; so that we would never run out of money in that category. Unlike reality, which is that I set aside money for gas but then end up making more trips than I expected to the airport 50 miles away to either take hubby or pick him up… not something I can say “Sorry, honey, you can’t go to work cuz we used all the money in the ‘gas’ cash envelope…” But the ideal budget plan would have plenty of money in the gas category, so that unexpected trips anywhere would be covered. It would have plenty of money in every category, for that matter — but no more than we actually need. Wouldn’t that be nice?
My ideal budget would also have all the other possible eventualities planned for. Christmas, obviously, and predictable bills like that stinkin’ semi-annual auto insurance one (add teenagers to your insurance and try not to call it “stinkin’”!). But also trips to the ER, or the washer that is about to rust out any day, or the new phone your college student needs because she dropped hers…yea. Ideally, we would have planned ahead for all these eventualities and have saved up enough money to cover them. Or we would have a healthy emergency fund.
But what if we don’t? I don’t know about you, but our paycheck hasn’t covered much more than the basics for quite some time now. For me to save up enough money for Christmas by saving x dollars every month is just, well, not really happening. I’m currently getting enough set aside for those quarterly and semi-annual bills, but not for the less predictable stuff like cavities or new sneakers. (I mean, really, can you forecast how fast your kids’ feet are gonna grow? I never seem to be able to.) And even if I had an emergency fund, by definition it would be for emergencies only – not for new sneakers.
We are busy paying off debt, so to have plenty of money hanging out in the bank for things that may or may not happen seems counterproductive. Seriously, when you think of building up a “clothing” fund, an “auto maintenance” fund, and also “medical,” “home maintenance,” etc., etc. — you’re talking about quite a bit of money just sitting there, when it could be paying down debt. Instead, we run more on a “as it comes up, we find the money for it” system. I totally grant you that this is not the best plan for the long term. But for now, it is what it is. After we get the debt paid down a bit, we’ll be able to make certain categories in the budget bigger to cover many of these irregular expenses.
It has helped us in this situation to have a list of all the upcoming, unbudgeted expenses (that we know about, lol) in one place. A list that can be added to as we think of (or find out about) another one. A list where we can also put them in order chronologically, so we can prioritize them. And a list that has a spot for dreams, things we want to save for in the future but have no idea how they will happen yet.
I had been doing this on a piece of scrap paper for quite some time, but that’s not a good permanent organizational solution for me. What ended up happening was things got crossed out and written over, making a mess of the whole thing; or I didn’t put hopes and dreams on there because it seemed silly to do so on what was after all a temporary piece of paper — and then I forgot all those wonderful ideas I had…
So I decided to make a printable that would be kept up-to-date on a monthly basis. If I do say so myself, it is a handy thing to have. And I must confess that I think it is pretty good-lookin’! It matches my weekly calendar planner and my task list — and my blog! I keep it in a binder with all my other organizational stuff. Some day I’ll make a post about everything I have in there.
But today I’m sharing my Upcoming Expenses List with you! It is part of my ongoing project of household printables which will end up being a complete package. Later on this will become a purchase-only item, but if you are a subscriber to my blog, you will get all the printables for free as I develop them — just like this one today. All you need to do is enter your email in the subscription box in the sidebar or in the box at the end of this post. 🙂
Here’s how to use my Upcoming Expenses List for those items not in your budget plan:
The main box is to list unbudgeted expenses as they occur to you – basically a running “to do” list. When my daughter tells me her sneakers are wearing out, I put “Sneakers for S” on the list. When my husband says we are going to need new tires soon, I put “Tires” on the list. Of course it would have been best to have saved up for these things ahead of time, but as I said, we are still so busy paying off debt that we generally put these things off until they can’t be put off any longer.
The column on the right is where you can take everything from the first list that is due within the next two months and put it in chronological order, so that you can plan first things first and second things second. Don’t underestimate the power of this, y’all. It helps you realize exactly how much money you need to come up with SOON. Which may necessitate selling a couple of things to get the money together or doing some other sort of side hustle to accumulate more cash.
And down below is the place to dream, to list those long-term projects and ideas that are still in the realm of “wouldn’t it be nice someday,” but you don’t want to forget about them.
The idea is to fill out a new page each month, transferring everything that is due this month or next into the chronological boxes, and then rewriting what is left in the main box and the dreams section back into their spots. As the month goes on, you can add to the main list as things come up. Filling out a fresh list each month gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate what really needs to be on the list and what its priority level should be. It also reminds you of your dreams — remember, these are what you are shooting for; they are the reason you want to be careful with your money NOW. So that eventually you can move them from the bottom of the page up into the main box! 🙂
Let me say it one more time for those that still think I’m stupid: YES, I KNOW that this is at best a short-term solution, and that our budget plan really SHOULD include everything in it, so that this type of list becomes obsolete. I’m just trying to deal the best I can with reality, y’all. And I think there are plenty of people out there that are more like we are — they just don’t have enough to go around to save up for everything all at the same time. They need to tackle one expense, and then the next, and so on. This printable helps us all do that — until we’ve got the debt paid down or the budget plan perfected.
So if you’re like we are and would like an organized way to keep track of these unplanned expenses, then enter your email in the box below. Then you’ll get each of my posts in your inbox as they are published — and you’ll get first access to all my new printables as I make them. Immediately, though, you’ll receive an email from me, asking you to confirm that you are you by clicking on a link. Please do that! Then you’ll get sent directly to the page with the printables — which includes the weekly calendar planner I alluded to before! Let me know how you like everything! 🙂
Shared on Frugal Friday!