Monthly Planner : Budgeting Inspiration

What's the cost of a cup of coffee? You might be thinking around two dollars. So every morning on your way to work or school you grab a cup of coffee because "what's two dollars?"

Five days a week for four weeks is $40, and that's if that cup of coffee is in fact only two dollars and you only buy one.

The point of me sharing this article is not to shame anyone for buying a morning (or second) cup of coffee. It's to help you think about spending with intention. Maybe you want to include $40 a month in your budget for coffee because it's important to you, maybe you had no idea you were spending that much and want to start bringing a travel mug most days.

Whatever works for you. I just know how helpful it is for me personally to include a budget in my monthly planner so I thought I would share some ideas for inspiration. 

Why include a budget in your monthly planner?

Have you ever asked yourself, "where does all my money keep going?"

This might help with that.

By no means am I an expert in budgeting or finance. My math skills are average at best, my accounting skills basic, and the system I put together in order to track my finances is nothing more than simple addition and subtraction. 

The reason these pages work for me is that they create structure beyond glancing at statements and balances. They give a bit of perspective having everything all in one place. Tracking spending can also be a bit of an eye-opener. 

Below are the pages used in my monthly planner for your use as inspiration for you to create your own. You can also download them in my monthly planner package on Etsy you don't feel like making your own.

1. Monthly bills checklist


Note: the numbers in this post are made up for the example.

I believe a bill checklist is an important tool for anyone to have. A week before the beginning of a new month I gather my bills (mostly emails) and fill mine out. If it's different each month and I don’t have the amount yet I use the average amount and adjust later. I then total the amount of all bills due that month and move the number over to my budget sheet.

Another note: this might seem obvious, but it’s helpful to use this list to put due dates in your day planner.

2. Monthly budget 

On my monthly budget sheet, I include how much income I expect to come in as well as how much I expect to pay toward common categories like bills, groceries, entertainment, gas etc.. Sometimes it’s helpful to think ahead here. Do you have any events to attend, gifts to buy, or maintenance to schedule this month? Write down what it is, and how much it will (or you think it will) cost. Once you have all items in there, total all the amounts and that will be your budget for the month.

3. Budget tracker

A budget tracker is exactly as it sounds. I like to keep mine simple. It includes a column for date, description, and amount. I write down any purchases made that month. At the end of the month, I total the amount to see how much I’ve spent that month altogether. I also categorize my expenses (using the categories in my budget) to see how much I spent in each area.

Using highlighters is helpful for distinguishing the categories when adding the numbers. A sheet like the one below is helpful too:

Conclusion

At the end of the month, I compare my budget to my actual spending. I look to see how I did overall as well as in each category. While your numbers might be way off the first month you try, I found by tracking how much I was spending each month, I was able to set a baseline. This helped me set better and more realistic budgets for myself later. Personally, I find tracking helpful in itself as you’re holding yourself accountable. Since everyone is different, it’s a matter of finding what you’re comfortable with.

If you'd like to check out my printable finances package on Etsy - here's the link.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like my post on weekly menu planning, which can also help with your budget!

 


How to: Make Your Own Bath Bombs

A while ago I posted some homemade bath bombs to social media. Since then I’ve had a few requests for a tutorial on how I made them so I thought I would put something together using my favourite example, Rose Oatmeal. This is a great one for beginners!

Much like other DIY projects, the end result is that you’ll have bath bombs that are much less expensive than purchasing the finished product- and of course, the sense of accomplishment that comes with making something with your own hands. This recipe doesn’t make too many bath bombs, however, I personally prefer making mine in smaller batches. It's a safer bet, they won't sit around as long if you don't use them right away, and working in smaller batches allows you to make a few different scents if you’re making many to give away as gifts. Also if you're experimenting or new to learning, it’s less wasteful if things don’t go exactly as planned (happens).

I’ll jump right in, beginning with what you need, and go through the steps one at a time!

1. Gather all your tools and ingredients

You are going to need:

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup food grade citric acid
  • 1/4 cup epsom salt (I’ve also used sea salt as a substitute)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Oatmeal flakes (optional)
  • Rose pedals (optional)

Tools

  • Bath bomb molds*
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk

* I’ve read that a meat baller works in place of bath bomb molds, but haven’t tried it myself

2. Mix together dry ingredients

Using the whisk, mix salt, baking soda, and citric acid in the medium sized bowl.

3. Melt and add coconut oil

You can melt your coconut oil (carefully) by placing it in a small bowl and setting it on top of a cup of hot water, stirring it until melted.

Once melted, add it to the dry mixture and stir until it starts to look like wet sand - or snow just because I’m Canadian.

4. Add essential oils

I added 30 drops of essential oils here. For this batch, I used tea tree oil, but there are no rules of course! Pick your favourite, or a combo of favourites, and add them in. You can also go without if you prefer scentless.

Once you have your oils in there, mix your creation some more until it’s well blended.

5. Decorate (optional)

Use a hand blender to grind up a handful of oatmeal flakes and rose pedals. Then put them in one half of your mould. Avoid creating a pile because the mixture needs something to stick to.  A small layer at the bottom will do.

6. Put them in the mould

Pack the moulds as tightly as possible and squish them together. Wait 3 minutes before removing. Don’t worry, you don’t need to stand there and hold them the whole time. I wrap mine with rubber bands so that I can walk away and do something else.

7. Unmould

Carefully take your new bath bombs from the moulds and place them on a soft towel to dry. Keep them out of reach of children, pets, and curious spouses. Let them dry for 24 hours so that they have plenty of time to become solid. 

Note: after one hour, my boyfriend casually grabbed one on his way through the kitchen because he wanted to see how they turned out. My thinking is he may have given it a slight squeeze because he exclaimed something across the house about how solid they were. It lived and I laughed, but be sure to communicate with others not to touch :) 

Once solid, they're done!

Enjoy!

 


Daily To-do List: for Your Monthly Planner

How many times have you picked up a new notebook, day planner, or app with the intention of getting things better organized? You get it all set up, only to stick with it for a couple of weeks and forget about it.

It's kind of like the first day of school. We tell ourselves, this year I’m going to be on top of my assignments, and take tidy notes so I'm not scrambling mid-semester. However, that plan goes out the window a month in and mid-semester we're swimming!

If you've done this, you're not alone. I was the queen of this in my late teens and early twenties. I'd get excited about a new planner, use it for a while, get "too" busy, and forget about it for a few weeks at a time. During that time I was basically flying by the seat of my pants. Mistakes were made. Tasks snuck up on me last minute. While I still performed well at work, and on college assignments, inside it felt like chaos.

I simply didn't the time to plan my days properly and I was paying for it in stress.

Things got better when I started creating my own journals. I found the custom layouts more intrinsic and less limiting.

I also changed the way I planned my day. Certainly, I’m still not perfect, nor do I strive to be, but I think this method is what has kept me planning consistently for the past few years and I hope it will help you too.

1. First things first

This method means nothing if you don’t dedicate a little bit of time each morning or evening to planning. I’m not talking a half hour. I’m talking ten to fifteen minutes tops. Take a look at your journal in the evening, reflect on your day, and plan the next. Alternatively, do it in the (early) morning, reflecting on yesterday.

2. Create lists to pull your daily to-dos from

When you’re first starting out, this will take a bit more time, but it will be worth it. Start by creating a backlog of items you need to do. I also recommend creating a “later” list to place things you need or want to do but aren’t a priority now.

If it's not too much at once, project lists are handy too. For example, I have one for creative projects and another for projects that need to be done around the house. I pull from the creative list when I'm feeling creative and know I have time for a project. I pull from the house list when my spouse and I have the capacity to take one on.

Once I select a project, I break the project into smaller tasks on my backlog that I can work into my day.

If you're really feeling behind, this process might help you feel less overwhelmed. It's also a good time to take inventory of your tasks and decide which ones you might be able to drop from your list. I have another article about that that I'll leave at the bottom of this one.

3. Find a daily/weekly spread that works for you

Some of us like the pre-made day planners that offer time blocking or appointment slots, others like plenty of blank space. Be as creative or not as you want. It’s all about preference.

If creating your own planner from a notebook or binder, I recommend completing the layout for at least the month in advance, if not the entire year. That way you can plan ahead a little. Also, you might lose some gusto when it comes to the end of the week and you haven’t yet created the next (been there). 

It's important to note, as beautiful as they are, creating layouts with intricate calligraphy and cute illustrations is hard for some to keep up so I recommend keeping it simple; especially if you already can't find time to plan your day.

I've created planners that simply have the days of the week and a notes section spread across two pages. In the case of smaller book sizes, I've also done a day per page. 

Here's an example of a daily layout as well. If you'd like to keep it even more simple, keep it blank and list your to-do's in point form using symbols to categorize tasks.

4. Start planning

Here are some tips and tricks:

  • Put appointments under the proper date as soon as you can - write it elsewhere or text it to yourself if you don’t have your planner on you
  • Pull daily items from your mind of course, but also refer to your notes and backlog 
  • Pick five to seven priorities for the day - if you don’t have that many or want to focus on less that’s okay too! 
  • Also, pick one or two activities that will get you active, or you find relaxing and put them in as well

5. Task management

  • Avoid simply putting the project name such as “build fence” or “PowerPoint presentation” - break it into tasks like “pick up supplies for the fence” or “write presentation copy”
  • You might also want to avoid including tasks that are too small or simple like “email Jeannie,” unless emailing Jeannie is a task that’s going to take a considerable amount of time or you might forget
  • Carry incomplete items to the next day. Alternatively, you can move them to the next week or cancel them completely.
  • Don't include items that you do every day. Writing things like “do the dishes” or “make dinner” every day might actually make day planning more of a chore

But what about weekly?

I have tried to plan my week out in advance before, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. It honestly made for a messy bullet journal as I had to keep moving this around. It also came with undue pressure - I’m not done this yet or I can’t do that yet. 

If I have an appointment or due date, I write that out in advance under the date absolutely. If I have something I want to get done that week, but I’m not sure which day yet, I add it to the notes section in my weekly spread.

While putting dates to tasks might work for some, I'm not the best person to cover the topic.

Note:

Also, I thought I would add. When you finish your tasks (work, projects around the house, chores, homework etc.), don’t keep adding to the list and burn yourself out. The idea is to remind yourself to keep a proper work-life balance. Enjoy yourself. Get active. Relax. 

Conclusion

I hope you found this post helpful. Here's the one I mentioned about taking inventory of your to-dos.

If you’d like a head start on your planner layouts, I have a printable version available in my Etsy Store.

Happy planning!