For years, I have followed the same budgeting format. Each month, I write down all of my fixed bills and their amounts and then all of the variable expenses and their budget caps with lines under each so I can track what I spend in each category. I highlight each bill as I pay it or as it comes out of my account and at the end of the month I subtract what went out from what came in.
I have not reconsidered the amounts in several months (maybe even a year?) because they all seemed to be as low as I could get them, although I knew the Verizon bill was getting out of hand but we were stuck paying down our phones.
I’ve recently decided to manage my budget and track my spending in a new way. I’ve divided the month into four weeks and listed each pay date for each of my bills so that I can see which week they fall into.
The third week of the month was a VERY heavy spending week, as several bills were due the same week. To help break some of this up, I decided to divide some of the larger sums into weekly amounts, like so:
The end of the month is still a bit heavier than the beginning half but I receive a large all-at-once check at the end of the month for one of my gigs rather than more frequent, smaller payments (like the others). It does make the system a bit more confusing, but I have decided that the easiest way to make it work is simply to use it for bills/payments that can wait until the end of the month (taxes that get set aside, groceries that were charged to the credit card, etc).
It’s worth noting that I broke each month into 4 week segments rather than the actual weeks that make up a month. Since the weeks of each month vary and have different amounts of weekday/weekend days, I decided not to recalibrate my system every month and instead will focus on the dates.
Week 1: 1st-8th of every month
Week 2: 9th-15th of every month
Week 3: 16th-23rd of every month
Week 4: 24th-31st of every month
For months with less than 31 days, I will have a shorter last week. This system makes some weeks have 8 days and some 7, but that’s okay for me. I’d rather have 4 segments to work with than have a random 5th half week during some months. Besides this, it also takes a bit of significance off of weekend days for me. I have so far resisted the idea of working on weekends but now that some weeks could potentially run Saturday -Saturday (and could therefore be HALF weekend days), I can instead focus on the numbers to hit rather than which days to hit them and make plans accordingly.
I am a gig worker extraordinaire and do not have the simplicity of recurring equal paychecks each month. This is good because I can always make more than if I worked a traditional job with a set paycheck but also bad because I can’t always control when class bookings drop off or sales slow down, etc.
This led me to also create this chart to track my progress on a weekly basis:
These weekly charts will be altered every month before I print/tape them into each week. I will change the order of the days to reflect the days that fall on my predetermined week segment beginning/endings. (This month week 1 consists of May 1-8, Friday-Friday. In June, week 1 is June 1-8 but the days Monday-Monday). I’d rather type in a quick change than cross out and confuse myself as I go along.
Currently, I’m aiming to make $2500 a month to make all the numbers work. I figured out how many of each thing I need to complete each month and then divided the numbers into 4 weeks.
92 VIPKid classes per month=23 weekly classes
80 EF classes per month= 20 weekly classes
$500 sales (after fees/cost of goods but before taxes) per month across eBay and Poshmark=$125 sales per week
8 Rover walks per month=2 per week
Since some weeks go over goal and some weeks fall short, I also created a monthly at-a-glance chart to fill in as I go. It doesn’t really matter if I am short this week if next week is above goal. But it is helpful to have a pulse on it so that I can first notice these types of trends and then take preemptive action if I’m falling way behind, etc.
I simply bubble in as I go and I find it to be a weirdly satisfying way to end my day. I added a break and a line or two of extra bubbles to each goal to account for potentially surpassing the goals as well. I plan to color those in using different colors.
So, far I’m a little over a week into this new method and I feel a lot less pressure. It’s much easier to meal plan/grocery shop because it’s only for a week as opposed to 10-14 days like I was doing before. The $62 amount per week is a bit challenging but I have made it work so far. I am also seeing more money sitting in my checking account overall while I pay smaller, but more frequent amounts.
I’ve always preferred using paper and pencil for my actual budget tracking. I track income using a spreadsheet but appreciate writing out what I’m spending and highlighting the paid bills. I decided to continue that method (since it already works well for me) so I simply printed these tables and taped them into the corresponding month/week layouts in my paper planner.
These are actual pictures of last week’s table and page in my planner. It’s not a pretty Pinterest image, but it’s functional. I was able to keep up with my progress as the week went on. Let’s be honest, that’s all that really counts.
If this ends up being a success for me at month’s end, I will pretty them up and post as an editable downloadable resource for anyone who may be interested in trying this too.
Onwards and upwards!