The Handy Dandy Budget Binder

Lots of people write to ask about where they can buy the budget binder that I use on the show with couples. M’lords and M’ladies, this is a DIY project since there’s nothing currently for sale.

Get yourself a small three ring binder with loose pages. On the first page write in the budget amount that goes in each of the jars each week. (See Gail’s Guide to Building a Budget and Gail’s Interactive Budget to see what goes into the jars.)





Clothing & Gifts






Each of the subsequent pages is labeled for one of the jars. So there’s a page for Food, another for Transportation, one for Clothing & Gifts, one for Entertainment and one for Other, which includes stuff like pets, medical costs, bank fees, etc.

Now that you’ve labeled each page in your binder (or notebook), write in the first week’s amount. So, let’s say you have $100 a week for food, $120 a week for transportation, $20 for clothing & gifts, $40 for entertainment and $20 for other.

Here’s what your Food page might look like at the end of the first week.


Weekly budget: $100

Beginning of the first week
















Personal care




New week




As you can see for the example above, each time you spend money, you deduct it from what you had before and carry down the new balance. So when you spend $45, you deduct it from $100, which leaves you with $55. Doing it this way means you always know exactly how much you have to spend. No guessing.

Dating the entries lets you see your spending patterns (are you going to the store too often?), and itemizing what you’re spending on (groceries, coffee, veggies,) let’s you see exactly where your money is going.

So, at the end of the first week, according to your handy dandy budget binder you have $2.25 left over. You can add it to your next week’s $100 (as I did here), or you can move all the extra you have at the end of the week into it’s own jar and use it for extras.

Careful though. Some of the jars are meant to accumulate money. For example, in the transportation jar, there’s money for both gas and car repairs. If you spend all the transportation money on gas, or move the money at the end of the month to an “extras” jar, you won’t have anything set aside when it comes time for an oil change.

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