How to Budget By Simply Using Your Notebook

If you are still wondering if you need a budget and thinking about starting, this is for you. Today I want to show you how to budget super easily using my favorite notebook method. This is better than any budget template that you will find online, and very simple. Pick up a pretty notebook, a pencil, and a calculator, and let’s get started!

To begin, write the name of the month at the top of the page. Today, I am writing “October 2023 budget”. I still have notebooks with my budgets from the past years and I do actually like to go back and look at them.

The next thing that you want to do is write all of your income. Write down all of your family’s sources of income: I am writing down my husband’s, mine, and a side hustle. The numbers I am putting down are made up just for this example. Underneath, I write the total income.

Total income

I take out tithes due to my religion, which means that we give ten percent of our income to the church. Of course, I continue tithing even while paying off debt. Therefore, if you do the same, the first thing you do will be to take out the tithe and calculate your new total. This is what you have to work with for the month. Now you know that this is the amount you cannot go over.

The next step is taking care of your bills. I separate the page into two columns, and the first one will be labeled “bills”. I have been budgeting for a while now, so what I do is I just put the numbers of all of the bills that I know I am going to owe. This is where I sit down with my husband and we talk because sometimes he is aware of certain bills I would otherwise miss.

For instance, I have a doctor's appointment coming up in October, so I know that I am going to have to pay a co-pay. Sometimes I forget this and my husband has to remind me. This is why it is great to sit down with your partner and discuss your bills.

How to budget, step by step

I am putting down our mortgage, electricity, and gas, and I just continue to name all of our online bills and write down how much each of them is until I come down and I total it out. Once I have the total for my bills, I will subtract that number from our total income after the tithe, and that is what I have left over after paying bills.

The second column is going to be labeled “cash”. You do not have to literally pull the cash for this, it just means these are extra expenses that you have more control over. Write down the number you have just calculated next to this column.

Since we want to be living below our means, we are not going to use all of the money left over towards our living expenses, but it is going to be our general guideline.

In this column, I am listing groceries, gas, household items, and any other extra expenses we have. You do not have to keep your household items separate from your groceries, that is up to you, but I highly recommend you do that.

I am putting down skincare as a separate category this month, as well as kids’ clothes because I want to go shopping for them soon and I need a budget for that.

Simple budget

Write down how much you are planning to spend on each category next to it. Now that I have been budgeting for a while, it is easy for me to predict and assess how much money we are going to need for each category. Once you are done, calculate the total underneath, and make sure that it is lower than the number that we have listed on top of the “cash” column.

Subtract the cash total from the sum left after bills, and you will get the amount that you get to save this month. Now you can use this money to pay off debt, to put in savings, to put in college funds or whatever else you want to do with it.

How to budget

The last thing I wanted to share has to do with paying your bills. The way that I do it is I use my planner. It has a monthly view, and then a vertical weekly view, and a daily view.

The weekly view is amazing for meal planning, and I use the monthly view for our bills: I write down when each of our bills is due and it helps us keep track of them and pay them off in time. We also have an Excel spreadsheet that helps us monitor the due dates of our bills, but you can most certainly just do it in your notebook or a monthly calendar.

Budgeting is necessary because it takes away all the money fights. My husband and I never fight about money anymore. I have been using this method of budgeting for two years now and I have never missed a month. This is probably the easiest and most manageable way of budgeting.

If I notice that we do not have anything left over, I can adjust my variable expenses like groceries, gas, or clothing to make sure that I am living below my means. That way, you can reliably put money towards getting out of debt, an emergency fund, or something that you are actually saving for.

For example, in five years my kids will be teenagers, so in around three years we should probably start another car fund.

How to budget

I hope that this article has been useful for you and that you will try this budgeting method. How do you normally budget? Do you use a spreadsheet, an app, a printout, or something else? How has budgeting been working out for you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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 1 comment
  • Jam74258380 Jam74258380 on Dec 26, 2023
    I do the same thing but I add to it a monthly shopping list. I’m paid once a month so I pay bills and grocery shop for the month. I include everything needed to make the meal other than items that will not last long. These are the weekly budget plan (milk, eggs, sour cream etc). When making something that you can double I do and freeze the second portion - easy meal for a busy day. No eating out then.