Friday, January 31, 2014

Finance Organization Tools

Three days of no school and no work. Yippee! Thank you snow! Have y'all done anything cool with the blanket of snow in your yard? For some odd reason snow actually put me in the mood for spring cleaning. I figured I shouldn't ask questions. Just go with it....this is rare. But first, we blog!

Making sure you have the right tools to reach your goals can be half the battle. I was sick and tired of saying that I wanted to be more organized and not getting the results I wanted. I knew that I needed to change something. I needed a set way of doing things that I would actually adhere to. I wanted the organization I see on Pinterest (don't we all)! These are a few things that helped me get organized with different things:

After reading Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace Revisited" and "The Total Money Makeover," I started to play around with different spreadsheets. Straight bold lines, bright colors and charts of all kinds always suck me in. What resulted was a pretty awesome spreadsheet that ended up being useless. I still have it, but I just don't see us really using it. I read about You Need A Budget (YNAB) in a Dave Ramsey Facebook group and thought it was interesting. Then Laiken posted that it was 50% off for Cyber Monday. Sold. This app has helped us so much. For one, it's easy. There are tutorials for EVERYTHING. The app for your phone is free so everything syncs as it's updated between our computer, Vernon's phone and my phone. Enter game mode. If you know anything about Vernon then you know he might as well surgically attach his phone to his hand. YNAB turned into a game to play on his phone. A game of who-can-save-the-most and who-can-spend-the-least combined with who-can-bring-in-the-most-money is a wonderful game for your bank account. This app took the place of the spreadsheet. If I'm being completely honest I'm kinda sad to see the pretty, colorful budget go to the side. If I could change the colors in YNAB I would be super duper excited. *hint hint YNAB programmers!*

While scouring Pinterest I came across a TON of different savings/debt spreadsheets. I found one that I really liked but of course I wanted to change the colors and fonts. =]  Here's what I came up with:

The idea is to list each of your debts on the left (we have 8 7 now!). The "O" means Owed and the "P" means Paid. Start off listing the current balance on the O for the current month (you could also replace the month letters with numbers and just count the months you've paid). i.e. let's say in January for Debt 1 you owe $100. If you pay $10 in January you would list the $10 in the "P" box and then deduct that from the amount owed. Your new amount Owed is the "O" value for the February box. I hope that makes sense! Just like Dave Ramsey says, you can watch your snowball build and build as each debt gets paid. Having visual cues is very important for paying off debt. Seeing debts get scratched out is a big motivator for us....well, we've only done one but you get the point. =] 

The next thing that put me on the right track with organizing was my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. This planner literally says it will Simplify things for you right there in the name! Now I understand that a planner isn't going to do anything for you unless you use it. I have actually attempted to make a planner in photoshop. I did make a pretty cute one in 2012, but by the time I spent about 24 hours total in making it, printing it and hole punching it into a binder......I came to the conclusion that next time I would buy one. I can't even remember where I found her page but I was instantly hooked. They are kinda pricey but I was able to get one that is "Perfectly Imperfect," meaning it has slight imperfections, for a discounted price. The only thing wrong with it are the indentations on the right hand side of the cover from were stacks of binders were sitting on top of it. Seriously? I knew all of the abuse I would put this thing through so that did not bother me AT ALL!

With this planner you get the monthly view of course, but the reason I fell in love with it is the daily breakdown. Each day gets a full page (with the exception of Saturday and Sunday) with an hourly view of the day. As cheesy as it may sound, I fill out EVERYTHING. From the time I wake up, to the time I get to work, etc. The reasoning behind this is to see it right there in front of me in black and white. If there is a half hour I can squeeze out of the day, I will. If I see that the day is absolutely nonstop but that at 7pm I get to sit down with my family and do nothing, it's worth it. I can see that I just have to make it until 7. I have actually been going to bed around 9pm every night....I'm so excited about this. Seriously, so crazy excited. Before, I was folding laundry around 9pm. The goal is to simplify real life to make time for what matters most. To live by a standard of grace not perfection. That is exactly what I was looking for. So far it has helped. I carry it in my purse (I always carry big bags) everyday.

Of course I love all of the bright colors throughout the planner. Colorful pens had to be in the mix. I had been eyeing some Staedtler pens for the the past month. However, they're just not in the budget. I came across these pens this past week and fell in love. I love RSVP pens. I buy the black ones all the time. So when I spotted these they had to be mine. Plus the $8 I spent on them was much better than the $35 I was going to spend on the Staedtler pens....although I still love those.

Having a more organized schedule opens up time to do other things. I'm planning on tackling the "craft" room today....which is more of a storage room at this point. Being snowed in has given me some motivation to finally get it done. I have my heart set on getting some canvases painted for the kids' rooms this weekend. Getting that room finally set up might give me a jump start to do that! How do you keep organized? What are some rooms in your house that could use some more organization? Do you have any kind of system? I'd love to share ideas!