How to Set Up a Budget Planner

Published on April 23, 2020 by Lauren

Learning how to budget can take some time. Staying on budget is no easy task. To make it easier, I’m going to teach you how to set up a budget planner

Having a Budget Planner s a great way to get and stay organized. Plus, a money saving budget planner puts your bills, receipts, expense planning sheets, and calendar pages all in one place. Think about it: money is involved in just about everything you do in life. Doesn’t it make sense to plan your money alongside your everyday activities? 

Setting up a system for the first time takes a little planning. But don’t worry, I’ll walk you through how to set up a budget planner one step at a time.

How to Set Up a Budget Planner

How to Set Up a Budget Planner

Take a look at the Personal Finance Planner in my shop if you want to fast-track your planner and get right down to business.

To make your own, let’s get started with how to set up a budget planner!

Step 1: Start with an expense tracker

A budget is the key to making your finances work. But an expense tracker is what you’ll use most often to make sure you’re not spending more than you should. 

Since your expense tracker is where you’ll record your spending each time you make a purchase, it makes sense to put it at the front of your budget planner for quick access.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If you want to dress it up a little, you could download my free budget tracker and print it out. Use a fun font or add some color to brighten up your budget planner.

But a notebook page or a regular piece of paper will work just fine.

Each time you spend cash or use your debit or credit card, write down the information on your expense tracker. For instance, if you bought postage stamps, went grocery shopping, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at the drive-thru, your entry might look like this:

  • Dec 22  – Postage stamps  – $20 – To mail Christmas cards
  • Dec 22  – Walmart  – $89.23 –  Groceries
  • Dec 22  – McDonald’s –  $9.87 – Drive-thru

Step 2: Add calendar pages

Your schedule has a lot to do with how you spend your money. Birthdays, holidays, kids’ activities, and special events can throw off your budget if you aren’t prepared.

That’s why adding calendar pages to your budget planner is a smart idea. With a calendar to quickly reference, you can plan your budget to fit your life.

Whether you’re paying down debt, building your emergency fund, or saving for a big purchase, calendar pages can also help you track progress toward your goals.

Your calendar is a great place to track  how to budget your bills that are due, too. When a bill arrives in the mail, add it to the calendar to make sure you pay on time and avoid late fees.

How to Set Up a Budget Planner

Step 3: Create a section for your budget

A budget is the heart and soul of your planner. It’s where you make sure your spending aligns with your values and goals and learn how to budget your life.

Your budget section should have a sheet for:

The yearly expense sheet is to keep tabs on costs that come up once or twice a year like taxes, car insurance, and vehicle registration. If you don’t plan for those, they can catch you off-guard and derail your budget.

The monthly budget is where the magic happens. No two months are the same, so you’ll need to make a new budget sheet every month. 

Before you start, check your yearly expenses sheet to put some money aside for future costs. Also, take a look at your calendar to see what events are coming up that you’ll need to budget for.

Step 4: Make room for your debt

Debt is a huge burden. Paying it off can seem overwhelming, but getting out of debt is possible. I used to have an enormous amount of credit card and student loan debt. But I listed my debt and faced my fears.

Soon enough, I was debt free. And you can be, too. Learning how to stay debt free has been one of the largest accomplishments in my adult life.

Before you can get out of debt, you need to know where you stand. That’s where section four of your budget planner comes in – it’s where you’ll keep your debt management worksheets.

Like your expense tracker, your debt management worksheets don’t have to be elaborate. As long as you have space to list your debts, how much you owe, your interest rate, and the minimum monthly payment, you’ll be fine. You can get a free debt calculation worksheet in my free budget pack, claim one here. Download immediately.

How to Set Up a Budget Planner

It will also help to write down how much you pay toward each debt every time you make a payment. Making a list and watching your balance go down every month can be a great motivator!

Step 5: Set up savings goals

Savings goals should be part of your budget planner, no matter how tight your money is. You might set up a savings target to pay for your annual life insurance premium, buy a new dishwasher, or take a family vacation. I like to call these goals sinking funds and there is a way to learn how to budget and save money at the same time!

How to Set Up a Budget Planner

Whatever financial goals you have, write them down in section five of your budget planner. Download one of my free savings tracker sheets to track how much you’ve saved toward each goal.  You can get one of the tracker sheets in the freebie section of my website.

Every time you add money to your savings account, make a note of it to see how far you’ve come. You’ll quickly realize that even a small amount will add up to big savings over time.

Now that you know how to set up a budget planner, you’ll be more organized and able to stick to your plan. Review your planner often to make sure you’re on target with hitting your budget and savings goals.

To get your binder set up quickly, you can download one of these free budget planners. You can also check out The Personal Finance Planner for an all-in-one solution to jump in right away!

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