When it comes to money, I am completely lost. I have spoken with professionals, read books, tried software, etc...
What it comes down to, is that numbers on a spreadsheet or bank statement, simply have no meaning to me. I cannot visualize what the numbers mean.
I am the same in my professional life. Since I was 10 years old, ,I have always been able to repair hardware or mechanical issues, without any thorough understanding of the thing that I was working on. I could just see the problem, when others could not.
However, despite several years of computer networking schools, software issues have always alluded me. I cannot pick up a piece of software, turn it in my hands, and see the problem. Therefor I am lost.
Also, I am self employed, so I like to use my debit card for all of my purchases. This allows me to have a record for my accountant, but again, bank statements don't help me very much.
Since budgets are deemed absolutely essential to money management. And since writing down a budget does not help me in any way. I decided to try a new approach.
Step 1: Google "100 Dollar Bill"
I am not open to debate, about the legality of printing images of money. It is certainly illegal to try and spend money that you print at home. But if the secret service was really worried about people printing images off of Google, they would have stopped it by now.
If you are not comfortable with doing it, you can try using monopoly money.
Please let me know if that is easier, maybe I will try it.
Step 2: Edit the Image
My favorite is GIMP. http://www.gimp.org/.
It's free and works well, once you know how to use it.
Resize the picture to 6" wide by 2 1/2" tall. This will give you an a bill approximately the same size as money, Which is good enough for what we are doing.
Copy and past the resized image several times onto a standard sheet of paper. ( I put 3 pictures onto a sheet.)
Do this again with $20's, $10's, $5"s & $1's.
I am sure you can use real change, if you want to take it that far.
Print out as many copies as you need to represent your bank account or paycheck.
I don't bother with printing both sides. Remember we are just using this to track our money.
Step 3: Cut Out the Pictures
Step 4: Label Envelopes
I Label envelopes with my various categories of expenses.
I then divvy up the money into whatever category I want to budget for.
Some of the books that I have read, suggest that when budgeting, All of your money should be accounted for and placed into a category, with none left over.
Every dollar has a job, so put every dollar to work.
That is the approach that I am trying.
I keep the envelopes in my car. Whenever I have to buy groceries or a tool, I simply remove that amount from the correct envelope and place it into the spent pile along with my receipts. When the envelope is empty, I don't have any money left to spend in that category.
This has allowed me to divvy up my money while keeping it in one bank account. Meanwhile I can continue using a debit card or checkbook for all of my purchases. It also makes it easier for me to reconcile my bank statement at the end of the month, by just counting cash in my envelopes.
So for the first time in my 36 years, I am actually reconciling my bank statements.