Organizational Tools, Skills, & Methodology 101The required items for this course are only three simple things:

  1. A Daily Planner
  2. Pencil and Paper
  3. Access to an Excel-based spreadsheet

With these three simple tools, I can introduce you to my method of organization for financial goals and budget matters.  

I use the above referenced three items on a frequent basis. Conservatively, I can state that I look at one if not all three of these items, on a daily basis.

They act as budget, tracking, and capital-appreciation tools all at once.

1. A daily planner. Daily planners provide a look ahead by the day, week, and month regarding payment of necessary expenses: utilities, mortgage (automatically debited from my checking account), and other household expenditures. I normally compare the due dates for those important items versus my incoming cash flow, better known as my salary.

It is a sure way to anticipate any timing issues of inflows versus outflows, as well to project any deviations from the normal salary and pay cycles. Personally, I use a pocket-size daily planner that can be easily included in my laptop bag that I carry to work. Hence, I carry my planner with me five days a week at a minimum.

2. A pencil and paper. These items relate to a daily diary I keep at my desk. I have gotten into the routine of writing in long hand my salary dates and the bills (with their respective due dates also) that must be paid to sustain my home, car, and basic lifestyle. Again, if I write it down, I stand a better chance or remembering it and its significance within my budget plans.

In addition, I have a visual roadmap for income and expenses as it relates to timing within the month. I strongly suggest you keep some kind of diary at work for just this purpose. With bills that are not set up for automatic debit, I pay them online. Normally, I do that while at work in the early hours before the day gets under way.

With the diary I am able to keep a physical record of what I have paid and can match that versus my online checking account statements. I cannot emphasize how an important this tool has been for my budgeting. It is an additional element in my financial literacy toolbox that gives me piece of mind.

3. A Excel-based spreadsheet for every month of the year. If you can use add /subtract formulas in Excel, this will become your Master Scorecard for Income & Expenses on a monthly basis.

There are columns dedicated with the following titles near the top of the spreadsheet: Salary, Expenses (at the very top), and frequency of payment, as well as a column designating the responsible person in the household. On the very next row: Name of the entity to be paid. After inserting every element of monthly income and expense, simply insert a summation formula for both individual columns. On the line below that one, near or close by, include a simple formula for subtracting the total amount of expenses from the total income for the month to reveal either a surplus or deficit. We call the surplus: Undirected discretionary income. If it is a deficit, then additional sources of income or a reduction in expenses are necessary. Note: I include my monthly mutual fund investments and other savings contributions into the expense column.

The residual can be recognized as an additional source of funds to be earmarked for a worthwhile goal, like college tuition, buying a home, buying a car, or taking a very nice vacation.

In summary, my daily planner, office diary, and Excel-based Home Budget spreadsheet are the tools I use to look at my financial well-being on a real-time ongoing basis.

They are invaluable to me, and I hope you may try to use some, if not of all, of these ideas on your debt journey. The above tools are meant to keep you on track for the remainder of your life, with prosperity as the final destination.

Joe is a graduate of the Debt Management Plan. To read more of Joe's tips click here.

Debt Management Plan Graduate, Joe Thompson of CareOne Debt Relief ServicesJoseph Thompson

Joe Thompson has been a Debt Management Plan (DMP) customer with CareOne Debt Relief Services since September 2008 and recently graduated to become debt-free!! Joe is active in many non-profit areas including; acting as Site Director for I.S. 8 NIKE Youth Basketball and has served as a mentor to many young inner city youths. As a hobby, Joe is a high school and college basketball referee in the New Jersey tri state area. Having officially completed the Debt Management Plan, Joe Thompson is excited to share what his experience on the DMP was like as well as what made his experience a successful one. Look for more posts under the My Journey out of Debt blog. Compensated CareOne Debt Relief Services Blogger.

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