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 only two.

However, the point of me sharing this article is not to shame you 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?

I’m by no means 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. 

I think the reason it works for me is that it creates structure beyond glancing at statements and balances. It gives a bit of perspective having everything all in one place. Tracking spending can also be a bit of an eye-opener.  Below I’ll share the pages I use in my monthly planner as inspiration for you to create your own. You can also download them in my monthly planner kit on Etsy you don’t feel like making your own.

1. Monthly bills checklist


These numbers 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 its 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.

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

2. Monthly budget 


These numbers are made up for the example.

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

This is exactly as it sounds. My budget tracker is 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 in total. I also categorize my expenses (using the categories in my budget) to see how much I spent in each area. For this layout, using highlighters is helpful for distinguishing the categories when adding the numbers. I found it blended together simply writing the word.

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 monthly planner on Etsy – here’s the link to my store – Autumn Smith Creative

If you enjoyed this post you might also like my post on goal tracking using your monthly planner.