How I Track My Finances in My Planner

planner closed

I’ve been keeping track of our finances in my planner for at least 10 years.  I keep track of our personal finances and the finances for my husband’s small business.  Most businesses wouldn’t be able to do this but ours is a small business (just my husband) so it works.

To give you an overview, we have seven accounts:

  • Business Account
  • Personal Account
  • 5 Savings Accounts

The financial portion of my planner is divided into 5 sections, including:

  •           Bills to Be Paid
  •           Business
  •           Personal
  •           Savings
  •           Work Calendars
Bills To Be Paid

I pay our bills weekly on-line.  I tried paying them once a month but I hated doing it that way.  I felt like I didn’t know what was going on and was constantly worrying I had forgotten something.  Weekly is better for me.

Bills to be Paid

My Bills To Be Paid sheet is set up on a weekly basis.  The first column is the date the bills will be paid.  That’s every Saturday.  I only list the first 4 Saturdays so if there happens to be a 5th that month, I ignore it. That doesn’t mean I skip any bills that would be due that day – it means I pay them the week before!  The second column is the date the bill is due and who it’s payable to.  The third column is the amount – if it’s a business expense.  The fourth column is the amount – if it’s a personal expense.

At the end of each month (or as the new bills come in), I transfer over all the bills and their due dates to the new month’s page.  If I don’t know when and how much a bill will be, I put a little reminder in the margin – just in case something goes wrong and the bill doesn’t arrive.  Don’t want to forget!

As bills are paid, I highlight them.  That allows me to see at a glance that everything is up to date.

Business Account

In the Business Account section, I have the following forms:

Credit Card Transactions – For each job, my husband has a brown 6×9 envelope with the customer’s name on it.  He records his hours and sometimes amounts he pays to other contractors (usually I find out when the check clears).  He puts receipts for the job in the envelope.  I list all the expenses on the outside of the envelope.  Once a week I update the list and reconcile it with the credit card transactions listed on-line.  I do this to be sure all charges are accounted for because once in a while a receipt goes missing and doesn’t get charged to the customer. The red Q means I’ve entered the information into Quicken. The little C on the left of a few of the entries means it was a Christmas purchase and will be paid out of the personal account.

Credit Card Sheet

I used to copy and paste the list of transaction from the credit card website to an excel spread sheet but the credit card company changed their format and it doesn’t work anymore.  So now I hand write the list and keep it in my planner.  I record the date of each transaction, the store, the amount and the name of the customer.

Paint Company – This is just a list of the charges and which customer they are for.  We haven’t used this account lately so the page is blank but usually there are a least a few entries.

Paint Company Sheet

Payables – When a job is complete and we receive payment, I record the deposit amount in the check register.  I also figure how much is due to the credit card company or the paint company for materials.  I record those amounts in the check register as expenses.  But since I haven’t actually paid them yet, I write the same amount on the payable sheet.  On the back of the payable sheet, I list the amounts included in that total – just the amounts.  When the credit card bill is due, I know exactly which charges have been set aside in the Payables account.  I remove the correct amount from the payables sheet and deposit it back into the check register (just on paper since I didn’t actually transfer any money).  I use this system so we won’t accidentally spend the materials money.

Business Payables 1

Business Payables back page

Truck Loan – I like to keep track of interest, principal and balance.

Truck Loan

Check Register – I use this pre-printed form from Franklin Covey to record expenses and deposits.

business check register

I balance the checkbook every week.  As checks and deposits clear, I highlight them.  I also record all business transactions in Quicken.  After I enter a transaction in Quicken, I put a Q next to the amount in the checkbook register so I know it’s entered.

To balance the checkbook, I take the balance per bank, add outstanding deposits and deduct outstanding checks.  Then I add the register balance and the payables totals.  Both numbers should hopefully match.

Personal Account

In the Personal Account, I have the following forms:

Payables – Sometimes I use a credit card for purchases – usually because I get a special discount by using the card.  So instead of waiting until the bill is due to come up with the money, I set aside the money the day I charge it.  Using the same principal as the payables page for the business, I deduct the amount from the checkbook balance and move it to the Payables Sheet which includes several accounts I sometimes use.

Personal Payables

Check Register – I balance the checkbook weekly.  I highlight items as they clear.  I don’t enter personal information into Quicken – only business transactions.  I balance the same way as for the business account.

personal check register

Savings

We have five savings accounts, as follows:

Miscellaneous – Our bank has a program called “Keep the Change”.  They round up our debit card purchases and put the difference in this account.  I use this account for birthdays and Christmas.

Tax Savings – Since we’re self-employed, we have to withhold our own taxes.  Years ago I left them in the checking account until they were sent in but I quickly learned that was dangerous.  Now, each week when I pay our salary, I move the taxes to the Tax Savings Account.

Emergency Fund – This is the account we use for emergencies, like car repairs, medical, etc.

Remodeling Account – We’ve been remodeling our house since we purchased it (it was a dump!) and this is where we save money for various projects.

Business Surplus – When we have a really good month, instead of spending the extra, we put it in this account for when we have a bad month.

savings

Business Surplus
Work Calendars

Every day, I write down at the top of my planner page where David worked that day and any other important details about his day.  I also record if he used his work truck for personal use and how many miles.  I also record if I used my car for business use and how many miles.

Work Record on Daily Page

Each week when I’m paying the bills, I update the work calendar.  I’ve considered not using the calendar or skipping the information on my daily page, but they both have a place and I think it’s better to have both.  I can put more detail on the daily page while the calendar is a summary that allows us to see at a glance how long a job lasted, when it started or ended, etc.  I also record mileage when the truck is used for personal or my car is used for business.

work calendar

So that’s it.  It’s a lot of information for one post so if you have questions or if something didn’t make sense, please let me know.

If you’re interested in downloading any of the forms, the FC compact versions are available below.  If you want to adjust for Personal size (3-3/4 x 6-3/4), change the left and right margins from 1.25 to 1.5.  And if you want to see the check register form, click here.

Bills To Be Paid
Business Payables
January February 2013 Work Calendar
Paint Company Register
Personal Payables
Savings Register

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Comments

  1. kelly marriott says:

    Great post! What happened to your Filofax? Are you back in the Franklin Covey?

    • I haven’t decided. I’m having trouble making the transition because I’ve used Franklin Covey SO long (20 years) and the rings on the FF on so much smaller! I keep a LOT of stuff in my planner and I can’t fit it all in the FF. So in the meantime, I’ve been going back & forth. That works great – NOT!!!!!

      • kelly marriott says:

        I hear ya. I keep switching between an A5, a personal and a bound planner. Have you ever considered the A5 filofax? I have a lot of stuff too and it helps (i think)

        • I have considered an A5. When you use an A5, do you carry it with you? That’s the only negative to it. I like to take my planner with me as much as possible and the A5 is just so darn big. I know a lot of people use the A5 at home and then carry one of the smaller planners with them but I can’t do that. Everything has to be in one place. When I start dividing things out, I get into trouble. I’m definitely a one planner kind of girl.

          And here’s another thought. My compact FC gets really fat! I don’t especially care for that. That’s another benefit of the A5 is that it’s a little more symmetrical. Instead of being small and fat it’s bigger and flatter. I think that makes it easier to write in.

          By the way, I don’t actually have an A5. I have a FC Classic. But I’ve considered the A5. There aren’t a lot of choices, though.

          What are you using now?

  2. Josh LaPorte says:

    Wow, Patty, this is awesome! I’m going to re-read it later today to understand it better (my brain tends to switch off when words “balance” and “enter into Quicken” are mentioned so I think I missed some tid-bits). Thanks so much for writing this! I think a lot of us who run small businesses struggle with setting up these systems.

    • Thanks, Josh. It is complicated to set them up and takes time. Mine has evolved over the last 25 years of self-employment. It used to be simpler – not sure why it’s gotten more complicated. I guess in a way that’s good. It was a hard post to write so if anything doesn’t make sense, please let me know and I’ll try to explain it better.

      • Josh LaPorte says:

        It actually really makes a lot of sense. I think part of my struggle with these systems is that my ADD prevents me from staying with them consistently throughout the year. I need something that is really easy to sort back out when I get back on track, if that makes sense. So, minimally, I need to at least capture income and payables, even if I don’t really balance everything. I’m trying right now to more completely divide my business expenses from my personal finances; setting up a new account to deposit into and pay out of, and then “pay” myself monthly if there is surplus. I have no head for numbers or money and quickly get muddled.

        Thanks so much for writing this post! It really is helpful and I’m going to be back to read it while I try to work up my own setup. I definitely feel like I’m better at keeping track of things if I keep them in my planner so I hope to move everything into it over the next few weeks.

        • Josh,

          It is a good idea to have separate accounts for business and personal. Sometimes a personal expenses gets paid out of the business account but I just code it as salary. Sometimes a business expenses gets paid out of personal. I reimburse the personal account from the business so I have a record of it in the business register.

          The advantage to keeping the financial information in your planner is that it’s handy. Sometimes when I’m sitting on the couch in the evening, I’ll remember something I purchased and go ahead and write it in the register. Even if I don’t have the exact amount, I’ll record the date and who it was payable to. That will remind me the next time I’m at my desk to go ahead and enter the amount. I just think it’s a lot easier to keep things up to date.

          I think that something simple is always a good idea. I would probably make it more complicated than it needed to be but my husband wants things simple. Income & payables/expenses is a great place to start. Maybe you don’t even need more than that. My system has evolved over the years. It started out with just those two things and over time, as things came up, I added different little parts. It’s kind of like your planner. Start with the basics and add and subtract as you find you need things. But always keep it as simple as possible. You’ve got a great set-up for your planner so I’m sure you can do the same with your business and personal finances.

          Patty

  3. Pretty planner, Patty. I so owe you email. I used to be a huge Quicken user, logging absolutely every penny. I haven’t done that for a few years now.
    Jill recently posted…Kickin’ the SmileMy Profile

    • I’ve tried using it for my personal finances but don’t want to put in the time. I only do the business because it looks more professional if we need a report and it’s easier to gather tax information.

      And yes, you do owe me an email! I’ll be looking for it.

  4. Great post! I will have to re-read it again and I am sure will have more questions. But for now why do you do everything on Paper and then Quicken too? Why not just one or the other? Are you using regular Quicken to keep track of the business or are you using the Home & Business version? I am deciding what version to use myself as I hate Quickbooks and it is not needed for a small business or at least not my small business.
    Phil recently posted…Read Kindle books without owning a KindleMy Profile

    • Phil, I’m using the Home and Business Version. It’s way more stuff than we need for our very small business. We could easily get by with the home version, I think. I don’t enter personal information into Quicken. I have in the past but found that we didn’t need it.

      I know a lot of people use Quickbooks but I’ve never even looked at it. I think it was quite a bit more expensive and I found that Quicken does what I need it to and I really like the way it works. I’ve been using it for a long time!

      As far as why I use both paper and Quicken, I would just use paper except that Quicken makes it easier to pull information together for tax purposes. And it looks more professional and trustworthy having those written reports in the tax file. Also, if we need a Cash Flow Report for a credit application or some other reason, Quicken allows me to pull that together easily and it looks professional.

      I’ve tried doing paper only. Just a few weeks ago I set up all my miscellaneous forms in an Excel spreadsheet. But I hated it. I need to be more hands on and be able to see multiple pages at one time. That being said, I’m actually thinking about trying again. But I haven’t decided for sure.

  5. Thank you so much for this post!!
    Laurie recently posted…Changes to the Academic-year Plannerisms plannerMy Profile

  6. this is a great post! i have been looking for a way to organize my bill paying info in my FF. i like the sheets you made (weekly bill pay) I may do something like that as well. I think the way I have it written now, while useful, sometimes I think I miss things.

    • Thank you! The weekly bill paying sheets work great for me. I tried putting the bills on a calendar but I didn’t like that. I like having them organized by week. I usually add them up, too, so I know how much discretionary spending I have. Then I make my personal budget for the month- you know, the household stuff like groceries, gasoline, eating out, etc.

  7. Patty I’m interested to know how you archive your financial pages. Do you put them in the corresponding year’s storage binder with the planner pages from that year? Or do you have a separate storage binder designated for your financial pages?
    Laurie recently posted…Your 2013 planner: Planner Fail or So Far So Good?My Profile

    • I’ve done it several different ways.

      1. In the past, at the end of each year, I took all the financial information for the year and put it in a file box, labeled it with the year and put it in my storage room. I included the financial pages in that box – usually just paper clipped and put in a file.

      2. I’ve also kept a storage binder just for financial pages – divided by year. When it was full, it went into a storage box and into the storage room – labeled, of course, so I could retrieve it if I needed it.

      3. I’ve also kept the pages in the year’s storage binder.

      I think the most efficient is #1. But if you don’t file your papers by year, then I think #3 is probably the best.

  8. Thanks Patty!
    Laurie recently posted…Your 2013 planner: Planner Fail or So Far So Good?My Profile

  9. wow! YOU’RE SO ORGANIZED! Definitely looks like you have it all together!
    Tracy
    crazysuburbanmom recently posted…A nagging annoyanceMy Profile

  10. Living in Holland, I find it hard to believe that there’s still people who pay bills manually. My fixed costs (like mortgage, water, electricity, gas, insurance, subscriptions, dental costs, school fees etc etc) are all paid automatically. Which is good, because now too-late-fees are a thing of the past.
    I do keep a list of company invoices I sent out, and check them off when I have received the payment. And I track my personal non-essential spendings (like – ehum – planners and pens and stuff).
    Very impressed (and a bit intimidated) by all those lists you are rocking …..
    Judith recently posted…Mindful morning coffee …My Profile

    • I do have a lot of forms, but they’re all necessary – at least for now. I started out with only a few but things got complicated and I had to add forms. I tried simplifying but it actually made life more complicated!

      I’m surprised you classified planners and pens and stuff as “non-essential spending”. Come on – you know you don’t mean it!!! :)

  11. I use internet calender for everything , posted ,paid , amount etc. TO ME IT WORKS AND THERE ARE NO PAPER CLUTTER.

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