One cannot live on bank alerts alone. You will need a budget, if you don’t have one already. I got married in 2008, with little regard to how our spending and credit histories would meld together.
In 2009, I decided I needed a budget. Here is my first attempt with Excel. You can see that I put all the bills on one side, and the months along the top. I still use this format, and I have refined it to fit our bills and spending patterns. Sorry for the poor quality; this is a photo of my computer screen:
Here is the bottom of the same page. This is important! You must put totals. It’s easy to do on Excel.** Keep a running total of general spending, and any other categories you want to track. At the very bottom, I have the program subtract our spending from our income. Too often, this number is in parentheses, which means it’s a negative number, and we owe money to the next month:
**How to make totals on Excel: 1. Click on the fx at the top of the page. 2. In the pop-up window, choose SUM. 3. Type in which cells you want to sum. You can do them individually, or you can do a whole section of the column by putting a colon between the first and last cells, such as B31:B37.
I check my bank account and budget every day, or almost every day. I look at which payments have gone through, and which ones are pending. If a payment is pending, I change the cell’s color to yellow. If a payment has posted to the bank account, I change it to green. The yellow color is a reminder that the money is already spent, and it keeps me from feeling too rich when I look at the account.