When working in the civilian world payday is at least two times a month. Even Active Duty military get paid twice a month. Then we transition to the life of a Veteran on VA Disability and you get paid once a month. Might not be too challenging if the spouse is still working outside the home but if your spouse is your VA Family Caregiver she/he gets paid only once a month as well.
There is no magic formula to make your funds last the whole month but there are several tips to help it stretch for 30 days without too much trouble.
I personally started with an Excel Spreadsheet to record all of our monthly bills and our income. I have it set up to give me a total of the remaining balance. I have been tucking away about 10% for later in the month.
Monthly Budget Summary
Budget Actual Difference
Total INCOME $0.00 $0.00
Total SAVINGS $0.00 $0.00
Total HOME EXPENSES $0.00 $0.00
Total DAILY LIVING $0.00 $0.00
Total TRANSPORTATION $0.00 $0.00
Total OBLIGATIONS $0.00 $0.00
Total HEALTH $0.00 $0.00
Total PETS $0.00 $0.00
Total EDUCATION $0.00 $0.00
Total ENTERTAINMENT $0.00 $0.00
Total VACATION $0.00 $0.00
Total MISCELLANEOUS $0.00 $0.00
NET $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
These are the different categories I have listed and as I fill out the spreadsheet the summary if completed as well. Home Expenses is for all the utilities to keep our hour going and Daily Living is for groceries, cleaning, and paper products. I estimate groceries at a minimum of $400 a month. At the end of every month I fill out the budget will what all the bills are and which ones need to be paid. I go through the pantry and freezer and make my grocery list. I have one I created myself for our house so I just mark if we need to buy that item this month.
On the first of the month I pay all the bills first thing. Most all our bills are now paid online and there are some where the actual payment does not come out until the next morning but careful planning and attention can keep the budget intact. Once all the bills are submitted I make sure that the budget and what I just did are the same and note the remaining balance.
With a teenage boy in the house meat is essential-our first stop is to the meat market and our local butcher has a monthly special for $99.95 and it varies from month to month, summer s great BBQ meats. The freezer pack will include beef, pork, and some chicken. Then we go to Costco for the bulk items and paper products. Last stop is Wal-Mart for the items we don’t buy in bulk. We end up having meat to last all month long, even if it is only ground beef.
I fill the gas tank on payday and put aside the same amount for later in the month. I will put this aside in an envelope marked ‘Gas Money’. The other money I was tucking away I put in envelopes for groceries over the next few weeks, milk, eggs, bread, produce. I also save all my change. Every month I clean out the bottom of my purse and put the change away for a later need. There were many years that change made all the difference in the world to our family.
I am not saying that the system I use is perfect all the time but it really helps to keep spending on track and all the necessary items to keep our house afloat are done before we do anything ‘fun’. We lived payday to payday for years and that payday was $1200 a month but we did get food assistance. We had no extras but we never went without.
Budget is the key. It doesn’t matter if you would like a notebook and paper, Excel, or an online budget site like www.mint.com, keeping track of expenses is the key to knowing how to make your money work better for your family.
Submitted By Pam