A simple budget template based on another one and the widget set.
Print from PDF directly onto a 3x5 index card.
Last Week in Keep-It-Simple Financial Planning (Part 1) I shared the economic theory of utility, which says that people have an unlimited amount of desires, and only limited means to fulfill them. Is Debt bad? I shared the basic financial terms for understanding how debt works, and then we walked through a Net Worth analysis. This week we are going to start where we left off, and make a plan to get out of debt.
The first rule of financial planning is Do Not Go into More Debt. Plan to spend only as much as you bring in every month (or less). If you use your credit cards make sure new balances are paid in full each month. Credit cards become crutches and all too often we find ourselves not having enough balance on the card when a true emergency arrives. However, if you find it hard to wean yourself off the credit card, then make them hard to use. Wrap them in paper, and freeze them in ice. Or slide them in an envelope that gets tucked away in your filing cabinet. Because the cards are no longer accessible, you become forced to consider how you use your cards.
When you look at your finances, do you feel empowered or depressed? There are few things in our personal lives which run to such extremes as our finances. Do you understand how to pay off your debts? Will you be ready for your retirement? Will you be able to retire? Do you get calls from collection agents because you have late bills? When an investment advisor tells you they have the perfect investment, do you know how to do the research for yourself, or do you blindly follow along, and get burned when the "hot" investment is a failure? If any of these are true for you, then I have good news: you can live comfortably now, pay off your debts, and prepare for the unexpected problems in the future.
There's an exercise I practice about once every three months that I call "Should I Quit?" In it, I map out all the reasons why it's a great idea to stay at my current place of business, and I map out all the things that bother me, and that might merit my packing up and moving on. I use it as a way to purge frustration, but also, as a way to uncover new thoughts about a situation or topic that I believe I have all the answers for, and there's where mind maps come in.
Mind maps are an excellent tool for unlocking information and connected ideas by representing information in a visual medium. I'm a big convert to using mind maps. I use them for blogging, for story ideas, and other creative endeavors, but I also use mind maps for business in a number of ways. Here are some of the uses I have for the new Hipster PDA Edition v3 Mind Map card.
A simple form to track expenses for business. It has columns for the dates you submitted an expense and when you get reimbursed for it.
When you get a reimbursable expense record it, the amount and the date. Then mark the date that you submit the expense and the date when you receive the reimbursment.
Three-column table for keeping track of projected expenses and remaining budget
You can use this to keep track of your budget: how much you've set aside and how much is left. Start by writing your total monthly income on the first row. You can use a pen to write your fixed expenses such as rent, but a pencil is better for writing variable expenses. Fill in the amount left so that you can avoid going over your budget. Update this card at the end of the day when you go through the receipts in your inbox. You can use the back of the card to keep track of transactions without receipts.
A form for tracking the status of those pesky rebates. Allows you to record what rebates you are waiting for and when they are due. This is my first attempt at a form.
Record your rebates here when you send them in. Includes fields for Date Mailed, Date Due, and Notes.
This is a check register template created in Open Office using elements from the D*I*Y Widget Template scaled down to fit the 3"x5" work area. I have included check boxes for cleared items.
Use like a normal check register. Carry the balance forward from card to card.
Christmas is coming!
Christmas season is coming up, and I need to be extra-careful about my finances. I don't want to wake up on January 2 with plenty of gifts but no rent! It's a little hard to enforce strict limits when my checking/debit account's accessible from every store and street corner, but going analog might just help me--and you--splurge wisely this Christmas.
Here are a few tips to control the holiday hullabaloo: