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6 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money

Instead of selecting from the dizzying array of on-line budgeting instruments, right here’s a novel thought: The finest resolution to retaining observe of your cash could also be writing all the things down with pen and paper.  

The bullet journal — or BuJo, for brief — is an analog organizational system that may make it easier to discover the “calm in the chaos” (a minimum of, in accordance to the official bullet journal web site).

What units the bullet journal other than different lookalikes is it’s utterly customizable. Each web page has tiny bullets to use as a information to observe no matter you need. You can set objectives, write down to-do lists and observe your funds multi functional place. 

Unlike with pre-designed planners, bullet journal cash administration permits you to create spreads on your explicit monetary objectives and duties, together with the visuals that can most encourage you to attain them. 

So in order for you to purchase a home, as an example, you possibly can shade every brick of a home as you save for a down fee. 

And should you’ve ever missed a reminder amid the fixed pings from the calendar in your telephone, you’ll admire that bullet journals supply a bodily, visually pleasing different for monitoring your payments.

And you don’t have to be artistic to get began. 

How to Start a Bullet Journal Budget

Because the bullet journal is what you make it, there are an infinite quantity of choices for the way it will help you handle your cash. 

To begin with, you’ll want an index (aka desk of contents) to keep away from flipping by way of countless pages of your journal every time you need to have a look at your finances.

Depending on the sort you employ, your journal could include a few pages on the entrance pre-designed for an index or you possibly can merely create your individual. Come up with a record of preliminary concepts — no worries should you’re undecided about all the things you need to cowl, as you possibly can all the time add extra pages or sections to the index later. 

And as a result of a bullet journal is so customizable, you possibly can handle your individual particular downside areas or objectives. 

Pro Tip

If you’re getting overwhelmed by concepts you see on Pinterest and Instagram, neglect the elaborations and simply observe your bills and objectives in a format that’s simple to observe and keep.

Do you want to be higher about sticking to a finances? Do you want to repay debt? Do you could have some massive financial savings objectives? Great! There’s a bullet journal “spread” (official lingo) for that.

Alicia Geigel teaches bullet journaling workshops at Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Florida. She usually shares structure concepts to get individuals comfy with monitoring their lives each personally and professionally on paper. Now she’s discovering individuals are interested by utilizing the bullet journals for his or her private funds.

She lately used her journal to save $2,500 for a journey to Italy.

“Since I do it every night and try to make it part of my routine, it just reminds me of the path I am trying to save on,” Geigel mentioned. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or a bit stumped, we now have some concepts to get you began.

1. Monthly Budget Tracker

A bullet journal can be utilized to observe month-to-month bills. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Seeing the place you intend to spend and the place you really spend your cash every month is a great way to begin your budgeting journey.

You can break down your finances into classes, beginning with the unavoidables (payments, hire, gasoline and the like) and work ahead from there. Include all the things, proper down to your Spotify subscription and the truth that as soon as in a when you simply want to order the costlier pizza.  

One choice is making a month-to-month finances unfold in bars. That means, you possibly can visually gauge your finances primarily based on the week of the month. Color within the bar every time you spend, and also you’ll have a easy visible illustration of how a lot you could have left in that class. 

At the top of the month, add up your whole spending in contrast to your whole finances. To create a little inner competitors (as a result of who doesn’t like wins?), write your whole spending on subsequent month’s finances web page, then see should you can spend a little much less. 

Put the additional cash saved towards greater objectives, like paying off scholar mortgage debt or saving up a down fee for a home. 

Another choice for the quantity lovers: Create a unfold that appears similar to a checkbook, then write down your scheduled payments on the left and report bills on the appropriate. Every time you spend cash, deduct it out of your stability. This methodology will maintain you accountable and assist forestall unwelcome surprises whenever you have a look at your checking account. 

2. Bill Tracker

a topdown view of an open bullet journal

Create a easy grid to observe your month-to-month payments. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

This unfold is ideal for the forgetful individual.

If you’re always writing down reminders to your self (suppose: All. Those. Sticky. Notes.), a invoice tracker needs to be a should in your BuJo monetary technique. 

One concept for a invoice tracker is to create a big-picture unfold that stretched from now by way of the following a number of months. 

Start by going again by way of your financial institution and bank card statements to ensure you depend each invoice you pay every month. Then draw your grid, ensuring to embody a area for the quantity, the due date and whether or not or not you’ve paid it but. 

Leave a few further containers on the backside of my tracker in case you want to add an additional line merchandise or two over the following a number of months. 

Put your month-to-month payments in a single unfold, and your quarterly and annual payments collectively in a separate tracker. As you pay every invoice, verify the field so you possibly can see at a look which of them nonetheless want to be addressed. 

three. Spending Tracker

If you’re fairly good about sticking to your finances and paying off your debt (or you probably have no debt!), you could determine not to use a spending tracker each month. 

Sometimes, although, you may want to add a spending tracker into your weekly or month-to-month part for a monetary reboot of types. If you are feeling like your funds are getting a little uncontrolled in any given month, it helps to see precisely when and the way you’re spending each greenback. It will be fairly an eye-opening expertise.

Pro Tip

If you see you’ve spent an excessive amount of half means by way of the month, don’t hand over. Create a mini spending tracker that includes the remaining finances for the rest of the month.

The spending tracker has a lot of flexibility in the way you select to set it up, however the principle issues to embody are a area to write the merchandise/meals/expertise bought, the shop/venue the place you bought it from, the date, the associated fee, what sort of fee you used and whether or not it was a need or a want. 

After a month — and even a week — of monitoring your spending, you could begin to see patterns and downside areas that you just in any other case may not concentrate on.

four. Savings Tracker

A hand-drawn jar that is partially shaded in is used to track a savings goal.

Simple strategies like a jar can be utilized to observe a financial savings objective. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

This one is probably the most thrilling of the monetary trackers (in our opinion, anyway). 

While all the different BuJo trackers make it easier to watch your paycheck dwindle away every month, the financial savings objective tracker will get you amped each time you get to fill in a little extra of that bar as a result of you understand you’re one step nearer to that dream trip or that new, extra-deep sofa you possibly can’t wait to curl up on. 

One concept for a financial savings tracker: Give every objective its personal horizontal or vertical bar. As you progress cash to your financial savings, shade within the acceptable quantity of the bar for the financial savings objective you’re working towards. Some objectives is likely to be small, and a few is likely to be big — however you possibly can transfer the larger, unfinished objectives from journal to journal as you fill every ebook. 

Need a little extra visible enticement? Determine an object that motivates you to get monetary savings. Is it a jar? A piggy financial institution? 

Design a financial savings objective you possibly can observe visually. Each time you place cash in your financial savings account, shade in a portion of the thing. It’s fairly satisfying to full the image as you attain your objective. 

5. Debt Payoff Tracker

Detail of a line graph

Line graphs are a easy however visible methodology for monitoring debt. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

OK, so this one’s fairly enjoyable, too. 

Who doesn’t get a little thrill each time you go above and past your standard debt funds?

To observe scholar loans, as an example, create a unfold with one giant bar so you possibly can see precisely how far you could have to go. Then, make a number of smaller bars so you possibly can break down the full into extra manageable — and fewer discouraging — items. 

Need extra motivation? Mark time-oriented goalposts alongside the perimeters of the bars so that you’ve got a little self-imposed incentive to repay a certain quantity by a sure time. The goalposts additionally function a reminder to allocate further and cents to your debt payoff at any time when there’s cash left over on the finish of the month. 

If you’re managing a number of money owed, contemplate drawing a line graph to chart your debt payoff. Create a line on your bank cards, mortgage or automotive mortgage — as you pay them down, mark your progress on the graph. 

Seeing the road go down may give you an additional push to pay it off sooner. 

6. More Ideas for Your Bullet Journal Budget 

A woman writes in a bullet journal.

Nelani Palomino tracks the variety of instances she makes use of her Disney Silver annual move along with her bullet journal. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

As you possibly can see, there are a number of methods to observe your funds. But don’t cease on the conventional budgets. Check out how these three ladies’s bullet journal finances concepts helped them attain their cash objectives.

Try a no-spend problem by creating a calendar. Check off the times you didn’t spend cash. Even you probably have a setback, by seeing your successes on paper, you’ll need to do it extra typically! 

Or use a behavior tracker to higher gauge how your routines have an effect on your funds. Let’s say you need to pay payments on time. Acknowledge whenever you do it by filling in a field. The extra containers you see, the extra it encourages the behavior. 

One of the good advantages of utilizing a behavior tracker in your bullet journal is which you can begin to see patterns you may need missed earlier than (like these budget-breaking blissful hours that sneak in round mid-week).

Remember, there isn’t a proper or fallacious means to use a bullet journal. Figure out what works finest for you. Before you understand it, you’ll see how a lot enjoyable managing your cash will be. 

Grace Schweizer is a employees author and Christie Post is a former supervising producer at The Penny Hoarder. Staff author/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors contributed to this story.

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