Stay on Budget Every Week

During the first few months of the year I receive several emails asking for tips for staying on budget. With the holidays behind us and summer vacation looming on the horizon, folks are looking for a system to keep their spending in line with their goals. For the next week, I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks for managing our household budget.

Your Budget
If you don’t have one, this is where you need to start. The first step is determining which type of budgeting system best fits your life. Here are a few options.

Option #1 Old School
There’s no school like it! If you prefer to have your budget written on paper, here are some freebies you can snag.

Option #2: Web & Mobile
Here are some popular mobile & web budgeting tools to check out:

  • YNAB (you need a budget) – very popular, but a little intense.  Extremely thorough and no monthly charges.  Pay $60 once and it’s yours forever.
  • PearBudget – simple to set up and 30 day free trial.  After that it’s $4.95 per month.
  • Mvelopes – set up “spending envelopes” within your account, track your spending and stay on budget.  This one is free.
  • BudgetTracker – another free program that can be viewed on your mobile device.
  • Dave Ramsey Gazelle – Dave is the man when it comes to budgeting.  The only thing that has dissuaded me from using this one is the whopping $90 per year fee.

I am pretty old school when it comes to budgeting.  We use a free printable calendar from Microsoft Office. Simply download, then delete any unnecessary text or images, and use the text box to list monthly bills. As they are paid, they are crossed off.

In the calendar section we write in our income, along with dates we plan to pay each bill. Savings and giving are also scheduled.  Since we are self-employed, our income does not come at regular intervals so this works well for us. We have a separate page with addresses, account numbers and passwords for each account.

ACTION PLAN: Create (or tweak) your budget today. Later in the week we will discuss organizing your accounts and I’ll share my #1 secret for staying on budget every month.

Please leave a comment and share your favorite budgeting software, app, printable or any other tips!


  1. I do something similar to what you do. I list all my bills on a spread sheet with the date due and the amount and as I pay them I put the date paid and amount that I paid.

  2. @Linda C – maybe it was a malfunction from site or maybe your own computer. I’ve had nothing but POSITIVE experiences on this site. Lori does a great job!!

  3. I’m so sad. The link for the pink printables doesn’t work. I guess I should have found this sooner but it led me to your website! I’ve been looking around for a bit and I’m so excited to start following!

  4. So I tried to get the pink printables that are pictured. When I clicked the link it sent me to a dead page, luckily with some internet sleuthing I was able to find them here:

  5. You say that you are self employed. I would LOVE to know how you came up with a budget! We’re a family of 5 on one income. My husband is self employed so his income is really variable. Every month is different. Every paycheck is different. Sometimes when he invoices a client, they won’t pay him for up to 3 months. It’s been so hard for me to come up with a monthly budget.

    • Hi Starla – In the past my husband had a similar situation. It is a lot harder when things vary so much!!! Finally, we managed to scrape together a one month cushion that stayed in our primary checking so we weren’t a slave to the variation anymore. Our budget then became about accountability to stay on track with our spending goals – to keep within a limited amount for gas, groceries, etc. When the income did come in, we would allocate it to replace our cushion and fund our savings goals. Luckily we now have a little more reliability in the time frame of our income, but I know there are lots of people in your shoes!