NWR Please help me organize finances before I go (even more) crazy!

posted 3 years ago in Money
Post # 3
Member
3077 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

the first question has me a bit confused but I think you should have a 2nd checking just for bills if it’s getting confusing. Figure out exactly have much all of your bills will come to every month (if you have to estimate for say, electric and water then estimate high) and transfer that money into the “bill pay” checking. Every month do this. Then take out your allowance (since you say you spend faster with cash, I would have separate checking accounts for that too with a debit card but that’s just me…you could also do cash or put the money onto a giftcard or something of the sort where you won’t use cash & spend faster)….after that budget what’s left (INCLUDE SAVINGS!)

Your bill pay acct shouldn’t have a debit card so you each would only have 2 debit cards- one for the budget acct & 1 for your personal spending account.

Call and have them taken out at the same time, put them all on your CC as long as you pay it off IN FULL every single month (use your bill pay checking for this) or just pay them all off at the same time. You don’t have to wait until the due date. Pay the ones that are the same amount every month (phone, internet, cable etc) on say the 15th even if they’re not due until the 29th. It’s fine to be early.

I use my CC for EVERYTHING and pay it off in full every month in order to accumulate points. The way I keep track is I still budget as if I was using cash. I use budgetsimple.com and set up my budget. Anytime I spend something, I track it on there. I haven’t taken the money out of my account yet but I HAVE spent it. It’s very important that you keep enough money in your checking if you are going to use the CC for everything. There will be 1 lag month when you start using your CC, your checking account will double because you’re buying things without taking the money out. Don’t let this fool you into thinking you have more than you do!

Open as many savings as you want as long as your not charged for them! (Aka use a credit union not a bank)

let me know if you have any more questions! I love budgeting and I actually want to make a career out of helping people establish budgets and get their finances in order some day

Post # 6
Member
6073 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

@siempresoulmates:  For #1, maybe you need the envelope method?  You and SO determine at the beginning of the month that you wil only spend $400 on food for the month (to properly guess you will have needed to track your spending for a few months prior), then put cash into an envelope and make it work.  Vow not to pull any more cash, but then adjust next month’s envelope total if needed.  Same with entertaiment.  That will keep the money separate from the necessary bills (rent, utils, etc).

I personally have never used that method, but it seems like something you could try to answer #1.

*How do you keep organized with all the bills that come out randomly throughout the month? I’ve thought about calling to see if I can change them all to the 1st, or maybe putting them all on a credit card and paying it off at once?

I put them all on auto pay, one I have have to manually pay online each month.  I use a spreadsheet and I have various categories.  Anything that needs to clear from the checking, I put in red.  Then I set up my spreadsheet so that I have my checking balance in one cell; below it is anyting that needs to clear (so I sum my red cells); then below that is what I really have left to work with.  As those red cells actually get paid/cleared, I then turn them black and update my total red cells.

*How do you keep your spending under budget when using credit cards for points? Check balance daily…? Or is everyone else just not as tight on money as we are?
 
The envelope system woud let you know immediately if you’re on budget or if you have anything left to work with.  Or just check your checking balance daily and update your spending spreadsheet daily.

*Would I be crazy for opening 3 seperate savings accounts? As in: Long term Emergency fund, Vacation, House Savings? I feel like it would be helpful to be able to see the categories seperated.
 
I would just keep a spreadsheet of the total in that large savings account.  Then you can divvy categories up by percentages or by values. Then it will looks spearated on paper but be less accounts to manage.
 
Here’s what one tab looks like for one month on my ancient spreadsheet:
Yellow highlighted cells are my mandatory fixed expenses.
Items that need to clear from the checking still are in red.  Note we each have a credit card that is techincally the expense from the previous month, but they come out of this month’s checking total.
 
So I make a tab for every month of the year, out to December 2013.  I don’t really know what our CC totals will be in the upcoming months, so I use the past bills to make an average.  Of course this will fluctuate.
 
Now I can guestimate what will be in the checking account at the end of every month from now until Dec.  This will let me know what my overall checking total will be at the end of the year, and let’s me plan for large expenses.  Each value in this table is linked to the total cell for each month.
 

We had a lot of big expenses last summer (braces for each of us, weddingmoon).

……aaaand I may have met your geek-out quota for the week!

 

Post # 7
Member
2079 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

@siempresoulmates:  A lot of banks have ways you can organize your spending and set a budget on their website. DH and I have a spending plan and budget. For utilities, I take the highest bill we’ve had in the last 4 months and use that amount as the budget amount. For groceries and gasoline, I average the amount we have spent per month for the last four months and use that as our budget amount. Our mortgage is the same each month. We have a few other bills that are the same each month. Other variable expenses, I average out. I don’t like to pay for bills with credit cards. I don’t want to pay any interest on our bills we don’t have to pay and I like to keep our credit card balance low.

Three separate savings accounts like you mentioned is a good idea. You can also add some of the money you have left over each month to those accounts.

Post # 9
Member
845 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@siempresoulmates:  You NEED to use youneedabudget.com. It totally changes the way you look at your account so you are saving for next month’s expenses. No need for separate accounts and crazy color-coded spreadsheets!

Post # 11
Member
3077 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

@siempresoulmates:  yea just make a couple phone calls! I think it’ll be worth your time to enable you to get them done all at once. I definitely do have bills that won’t let me put them on a credit card or if they do, there’s a “convenience fee” (ridiculous)…I don’t pay those via CC! One of my bills it’s like $6 to pay it on a card…seriously wtf.

One of my credit cards I pay at the very beginning of the month when we pay rent. The other is in the middle of the month, and 2 bills come out in between. One is automatically deducted by the company so I just make sure at the beginning of the month that I have enough in there to cover it (It’s only like $80 or $90 so I don’t usually worry since I don’t let my bill pay checking get that low!) and the other is due on the 11th but I pay it when I pay rent & my chase CC. Pretty much everything else goes on the credit card…my SO does pay a few bills manually but that’s just how she prefers to do it & she’s never late or misses anything so whatev. It took me a while to get her to pay the phone bill on the card though lol

I’m not near as spreadsheet savvy as@sienna76:  so I use budgetsimple and then just list all purchases, expenses, and income on excel or even microsoft word (I started on word & switched to excel after a few months)…it helped me to see how much I was spending in each category. On budgetsimple you have to click on each category to see the purchases you’ve entered. So using both is just better for me to keep track.

Definitely stop using cash if you go through it! Idk if you’re a member of any credit unions but the credit union I work for and bank with allows members to purchase free giftcards. If you keep your receipts for every single purchase and document each one on excel, then maybe having the giftcard & knowing the balance is depleting with each purchase will help you better than using cash?? Just a thought!

Post # 14
Member
606 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

@siempresoulmates:  I saw that you asked about having 3 savings accounts.  FI and I haven’t combined finanances yet so this is just what I do personally, but I have lots of accounts.  Each one is for a different thing.  I have one for rent and bills, one for spending money (including groceries) and two savings accounts.  One savings is for long term (emergency fund and buying a house) and the other is for short term (like vacation).  FI and I also have a joint account for wedding expenses. I know it’s weird but it’s what works for me.  It keeps me on track for my savings and spending. 

Post # 16
Member
3044 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

With your house savings and long term/non emergency  savings, would you consider investing them in something like RRSPs or a set of laddered GICs? You can’t get at the money as easily but you can often get a bit of interest this way. Bottom line, the way you KEEP your money shouldn’t make you LOSE some of it! 

 

I have a checking account  where it has a very low minimum balance I need for  free banking, but not many covered transactions per month with it. I pay for almost everything with my credit card (for the points) and pay it off online as often as I feel like transferring money between accounts. I have a longer term/emergency savings account and a shorter term “buy this big ticket item’ account with the same bank, both are no fees but if I pay for anything from those accounts with my debit card it’s a five dollar charge. I can still get at that money in under 24 hours, no biggie – but it does help keep me from feeling like all my money is ‘play money!’

 

I feel like being able to glance at my credit card balance to see exactly how much money I have spent this month helps me see what I have room to spend, without thinking about how much money is available. For instance, if I plan on spending a total of four hundred bucks on food, gas and entertainment in a certain span of time I can look at my credit card and see how much of it I’ve spent. It’s way easier than trying to deal with the bigger bank balance, I can focus on a bit at a time!

 

ETA: I usually sit down once a month to make sure I’ve got everything tracked for spending/am on the same page and square with my SO for utilities, food, rent, Etc. It helps me adjust how much I think I can spend, lets me siphon money off into my savings as soon as I’m paid (I get paid monthly), and helps me  keep in touch with my longer term financial goals like saving for that someday wedding/house/retirement/awesome trip, and is generally worth the hassle!

 

i also get points on my credit card I can redeem towards free movies, music, magazine subscriptions, and gift cards. If I was the sort of person who would get myself in credit card debt I wouldn’t use it this way, but since I find it helps me keep track of my spending to use a credit card I figured ‘why not?’ I’ve thus far used it to gift my mom a magazine subscription and see a couple movies in town.

 

 

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