Using a ring binder for budgeting – Part 1

Guest post by Maryanne….

Like many people out there, financial management is one of the many important aspects of my life. Only a select few can actually have bottomless pockets. For the rest of us, we have to make do with what money we have, try to earn a little bit more, and juggle other non-financial but just as important responsibilities in between, which often also costs money. Budgeting really is crucial. No matter if we are employed, or a business owner, or a student, or a volunteer worker, for as long as our life requires that we spend for our basic daily needs, we need to budget our spending against our incoming cash flow.

This activity is often rife with frustration, fear, and heartache. The modern world is quite expensive to be in. There are many bargains to be found, but a lot of things we need to spend for are also very expensive. Add to that the occasional emergencies like sudden hospitalization, medication to be taken, automobile accidents, home repair, loss of a job, changes in one’s professional career field, a sudden sickness in the family, and other things not covered by insurance, and then we realize that we have to spend for more than what we can possibly earn for the next few months.

The key is to have a system in which all financial dues and obligations are consistently met and at the same time have enough cash saved for contingencies. But of course that is easier said that done. However, it is a worthy goal to have, one that we, as responsible and financially viable adults, must have the discipline to instill in ourselves as a habit. The thing is that most of the time, budgeting can be, simply put, a drag.

But budgeting need not cramp our style. More than anything, budgeting should let us live the life we choose, in the way we want to live it. This is the vision that we must take on. Show me a person who can live life to the fullest, without worrying too much about where to get the money to spend for it, and I will show you either Oprah Winfrey, or an ordinary non-celebrity who has found a great and efficient system for budgeting his money. We cannot all be Oprah, but we can all be that other person. Yes? Yes!

With this in mind, I have embarked on this journey, and I would like to invite you all Filofax lovers and planner geeks to join me on the ride. I am going to start using the envelope system of budgeting money for Janet Carr’s The Filofax Project. She has graciously enabled me to do this in style with a beautiful vintage Filofax Savannah in personal size, which came to me in that happy green padded parcel all the way from Sweden.

savannah 1

savannah 2

savannah 3

savannah 4

savannah 5

savannah 6

savannah 7
Being a designer of stationery in my free time, I have also challenged myself to design and make beautiful envelopes to use in this system, because, well, there is always room for beauty in my life.

I don’t know yet how it will turn out, but I am certainly eager to give it a try. And here are my goals. With the help of this system, I should be able to:1. Pay my bills and other routine obligations on time, thereby avoiding penalty charges and a black mark on my credit rating.

2. Spend for the daily things I need in my life, like groceries, food, clothes, fuel for my car, papers and pens, the occasional Kindle book. This also covers stuff I will be needing for my home from time to time, like replacement light bulbs, new pillows, a replacement for an old coffee-maker, cleaning services, laundry, a new heater, some minor home repairs not covered by my lease contract, and many other little things that, when added up per month, could be substantial.

3. Spend for my Master’s Degree, which takes three years to finish, so that’s also the time I have to completely pay for it. This includes tuition and fees per semester, required books and publications, handouts, supplies, academic subscriptions, thesis expenses, fuel for my car when going to university for classes, which is about an hour’s drive away, and all other costs that are directly related to my university life.

4. Maintain and regularly add to a savings account, to which I should deposit exactly 20% of my income for the month from my day job, and also 20% of what bonuses and other financial benefits I get from my day job.

5. Create and maintain an emergency fund, which should be equivalent to about 6 times my monthly salary from my day job. This fund should cover me in case of any emergencies that are not covered by my insurance or my HMO, and must be replenished as soon as the emergency has been completely paid for.

6. Spend for my advocacy, which is the greening of my country. This advocacy invites donations of tree seedlings and saplings, and I would like to be able to do my part by helping to purchase the needed seedlings and saplings.

7. Buy the things I don’t really need but want to have because they are good for the soul. Like a gilded and illustrated volume of the complete works of Shakespeare. Like a wonderful painting that makes my heart sing when I look at it. Like an especially sumptuous bed linen set that makes my sleep time a heavenly experience. Like a beautiful leather planner that will grow old with me.

I think these are realistic, doable goals that can be achieved with discipline, a sure sense of purpose, and the right system. I definitely have that sense of purpose, and I daresay I have quite an ample amount of discipline when I put my mind to something. But will be system work for me? That’s the exciting part.

Join me and see!



Categories: Filofax Project

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