I wrote a post on percentage based budgeting and some friends and readers have reported positive, life changing results as a result of that article. I wanted to go a step further and offer a new tool that can allow you to make the most of your remaining money or flexible spending account.
The percentage based budget is a great place to start for fixed (gas, rent, auto payments) and recurring variable expenditures (haircuts, gasoline, health co-pays, etc). What happens, though, for the flexible expenses like dinners, gifts, and clothes? It’s easy to think we have more flexible spending money than we really have and it’s hard to keep what we put on our credit card aligned with what is actually in the bank. It becomes even harder when finances are shared between a couple or a family.
As a response to this, I created the monthly flexible spending worksheet for my family. I keep a copy on my cloud account so that my husband can access it and see my expenditures and I can see his so that we’re always clear about how much we’ve spent and more importantly: how much we’ve got left.
There are many benefits to keeping a monthly flexible spending worksheet:
- Keeping a flexible spending worksheet is a great way to alleviate financial stresses between the couple because it opens up communication.
- It opens up communication about where money is actually going.
- It allows us to see our true spending habits and helps us change behaviors were needed.
- It helps create self discipline.
- Gives us the ability to make choices without them feeling like sacrifices.
- Gives a clear picture of finances and avoids confusion.
- and more!
The major benefit that I found for our family was realizing how much we were spending on food. Between Mr J and I, we kept buying duplicates of things like bread or sandwich meat which led to waste. So, I moved our grocery bill into the flexible spending account so that we could pay closer attention to the items we were buying and ensuring we used them in their entirety before getting more. This is just one way we used the worksheet, so you can use this worksheet to help you and your family in the ways you see fit.
How to use the worksheet:
After using the Monthly and Annual Budget Worksheet that I created, you will have learned your monthly, weekly, and daily flexible spending allowance. From that figure, you will be able to insert your total into your flexible spending worksheet.
Enter in your weekly budget. You can also add extra income that you’ve earned or received each week. The worksheet will tally these income amounts. You can also enter in the title of the amount spent like groceries and the exact amount. The worksheet will add up all of your spending for the week and tell you A) how much you’ve spent and B) how much is remaining for the week.
If you have money left over, the worksheet will add this amount to the following week. If you have gone over your budget (or negative) for one week, the worksheet will deduct that amount from the next week so that you can stay on track the following week.
The worksheet will also tally how much you have left for the month and how much extra income you’ve earned.
Upload this document onto your cloud or Google Drive and share with with your roommate, family member, or significant other to keep track of shared expenses.