If you're going to be living on a budget, knowing what that budget actually is is kinda vital to success. Budgeting, for me, was only something I did for the television production I worked on as a way to wave a printed spreadsheet at a director whilst hissing "can you see enough money for a helicopter on here?!" (spoiler: the answer was always no, much to the director's and my disappointment).
Note, however, the use of the word 'was'. Television salaries are much higher than that of freelance writer/designers just starting out so something had to give. Holidays, shoes, clothes, they all went the way of the six figure salary. But it wasn't until very recently (i.e. this week), that I finally got my butt together and created a household budget based on my old telly budget spreadsheets, making this household budget spreadsheet a little different to your usual ones. I'm nothing if not an overachiever when it comes to spreadsheets, just ask my boss.
Not only will this spreadsheet keep track of your current balance, but for those (like me) that live in their overdraft as they struggle along each month, it will give you an additional balance amount that incorporates your overdraft. It will allow you to accurately budget for bills and purchases (commitments) and record payments (actuals). And if you pay more or less than you budgeted, it'll automatically subtract the right payment from your previous balance. You can easily spread the cost of large payments (like car tax) across several months, make notes on purchases, see your NET balance, projected balance and projected end budget (balance plus overdraft) all neatly totalled up for you at the top of the page. Insert a line for new payments, drag down the row to copy the formulas (make sure you drag down the totals on the far right separately, and from higher up the table to ensure you're getting the right result) and keep on going til the month is done. The only thing it can't do is fill it all out for you.
So this is my tip, download your free copy of my household budget or any household budget spreadsheet. Hell, design one yourself if you're that way inclined, come over to the spreadsheet version of the Dark Side. Mine is an .xlsx spreadsheet and if you need it in a different format then just drop me a line. Then (and this is the important bit) take the time each week to record your outgoings and incomings. You'll be able to reduce unnecessary fees, such as unpaid item fees when bills bounce (been there!), by having the ability to see if you're going to run out of money further on down the month. You can move payments, find alternative ways of paying, manage your finances in a more healthy manner and remove that one stress from your life for a simpler lifestyle. Sounds great right?