It took me an entire year after starting to get control of my finances to find a financial management system that actually works for me! I have always been a “planner person” who likes to write everything down. When I came across several women using the Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner for budgeting, I knew I had to try it for myself.
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Let’s take a look at how I use my Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly for tracking my finances!
EC Deluxe Monthly Planner Overview
This planner is perfect for keeping all your financial information and tracking in one place. An added bonus to the functionality of this planner is all the customization you can do to make your planner fit you!
First, here are some specifics about my EC Deluxe Monthly:
- Personalized cover (with the Flamingos!!)
- 9′ x 7″ planner size
- Neutral layout
- Platinum coil color
- Added 80 additional notes pages
Why I Love the Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner for Budgeting
I love the EC Deluxe Monthly, especially for budgeting, because it has so much room for customization. The layout of the planner itself is very flexible and can be adapted for a ton of different uses. Erin Condren planners are also high quality and use really nice paper. I haven’t had any issues with my planner lasting throughout the year.
This planner is a little on the pricey side, especially if you add on accessories. Since I only buy a budget planner once a year, I don’t mind paying more for this planner. All of the accessories I purchase (other than stickers) are also reusable, so I only really have to buy them once. I have to make my budget both cute and functional so I’m motivated to look at it, and the options provided by EC work well for me.
How to Track Your Bill Payments
The first thing I have in my budget planner is a bill tracker dashboard. This is an accessory you can buy from Erin Condren. This is a laminated dashboard that is removable — so you can insert it in your planner wherever you want. Since it’s laminated, writing on it with a wet erase or permanent marker works the best. (Remove permanent marker with rubbing alcohol!)
I listed out all my bills, so each month I can check them off as they are paid. The majority of my bills are set on auto-pay, but I still like to check them off when they clear my account. There’s also a quarterly section at the bottom of the dashboard that can be used for quarterly payments or keeping track of goals.
You can also see I have all my bills and their due dates written on the inside cover of my budget planner so I have an easy reference.
How to Track Yearly Expenses
I use the yearly at-a-glance calendar to track important expenses throughout the year. This calendar gets filled out at the beginning of the year for things I know are going to occur. When I do my budgets each month, it’s really easy to flip to this calendar and see what I need to remember to include in my budget.
These colorful circle stickers work really well for marking these expenses. I created a key and then used the same color dot to mark the date of the expense.
How to Track Important Milestones
At the beginning of the planner is a great spread of pages that include twelve boxes. These can be used for so many different things. For this year’s budget planner, I have been writing down the important financial milestones that happen each month. It has been really interesting to look back on this after a few months and see how things have changed!
Some other things these boxes could be used for are tracking monthly goal progress, keeping track of important monthly events, and creating a gift guide. There are so many possibilities here.
How to Track Your Spending
The main thing I use this planner for is tracking my spending. The reason the Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly planner is so great for budgeting is that there are 5 lined notes pages that follow the calendar view for each month. This makes it super easy to keep monthly budgeting and expense tracking all in one place.
I don’t actually keep my budget in this planner for this year since I do two budgets a month. I get paid twice a month and do a budget for each paycheck. I’m planning to write out my budget in my budget planner in 2020 since the format has changed a little bit and I’ll be able to have a little bit more space. Currently, I am keeping my budget in an excel spreadsheet in my Dropbox account.
If you need help writing a budget, check out this blog post!
Using the Monthly Calendar to Track Spending
Tracking my spending on the monthly calendar has been a total game-changer for my finances. Using the monthly view in combination with the notes pages has made staying in budget SO MUCH EASIER.
Whenever I spend money, I write down the amount and what it was for on the date the money was spent. I have a color-coding system that goes along with this. Orange is for personal spending, purple for pet supplies, green for groceries, gray for gas, pink for savings, and teal for debt payments.
The main expense categories I track are personal spending, groceries, gas, and pet supplies. These all have tracking charts on the notes pages that follow the monthly view. If I have a day where I don’t spend any personal spending money, I use a circle sticker to mark a no-spend day!
I write down the money I spent on the monthly view AND in my category tracking chart. This makes it really easy to see how much money I have left in my budget for these categories. Before I tracked my spending this way, I never knew how much I had left and I was always going over budget!
Whatever money I have leftover at the end of each budget period either gets put into savings or paid to debt!
How to Track Your Goal Progress
On the first note page for each month, I list out my financial goals for that month. These usually include items like following my spending ban rules, no credit card use, tracking all my spending, paying a certain amount to debt, and saving for events during the month.
Then, on the last note page for each month, I have a check-in page to summarize how the month went. At the end of each quarter, I do a quarterly check-in. With this page, I try to mirror the goals I set for the month and put updates on how I did with achieving those goals.
I also make sure to record how much money I sent to debt, my cash envelopes, and my sinking funds. (I’ve only used cash envelopes to save for trips and big events.)
What Financial Information to Track
The bulk of the planner is made up of the monthly views and notes pages, but I also track a ton of other financial information in my planner. I mentioned in the planner overview that I added on 80 extra lined notes pages. I break these notes pages down into sections to track my debt, savings, and yearly income and expenses.
To divide up the notes section, I use another useful Erin Condren accessory. I customized dividers for the sections I wanted. These dividers are laminated and removable like the dashboards, so they can be moved wherever you want. My account information for my finances is written on the back of each divider.
Ideas for Tracking Yearly Income and Expenses
I use a lot of different trackers in my yearly section:
- income tracker — this one is in the photo below
- expense report reimbursements (from my job)
- mortgage payments
- yearly giving
- HSA savings and transactions
- home improvement expenses
- car service
- vet visits
I like having all this financial information available so I can see how things are changing throughout the year and identify any patterns or problems. This will also help me with my budget planning for next year.
Ideas for Tracking Savings
In my savings section, I track my 401(k) deferrals, my cash envelope goals and balances, my emergency fund balance, and my sinking fund savings.
Ideas for Tracking Debt Balances
The last section of my budget planner tracks my debt balances and payments. I have a page for my personal debt payoff plan, as well as a combined debt payoff plan for my boyfriend and me.
Charts help me visualize my progress better than just seeing numbers. I created a chart for each one of my debts. As I make payments on each one of these loans, I get to color in some of the charts. It’s super motivating!
Using the Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly planner for budgeting has made managing my finances SO much easier. I’ve finally been able to consistently stick to my budget using this method. The EC Deluxe Monthly has a fantastic layout for tracking spending and financial information, and the optional customization and accessories just make budgeting that much more fun!
Check out these related posts:
- Complete Guide to Writing Your First Budget
- Getting Out of Debt: Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche Method
- Why You NEED an Emergency Fund
- The Basics of Sinking Funds
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