The Family Budget
Please check out the simplicity of using easybudgetonline.com
and its spreadsheet before you try to read and understand the
family budget.

(2018 Update) The Family Budget uses the same system
(spreadsheet) as Easy Budget Online, but allows a lot of
flexibility to customize a budget to your family's needs. It
starts out simple, but allows for a lot of customization.

After the Step by Step instructions for setting up a family
budget there is an overview of how the family budget system
works;

Step by Step Instructions for setting up a Family Budget

1. Open a Mint.com account using the primary bill payers (the
one who pays the bills) email address.

2. Get all of you and your spouse's credit cards, loans, and
bank accounts linked to your Mint account. (this is a little time
consuming, you need your User Names and Passwords for each
one) Trust me this makes things so much easier, later you will
only need one password to see all of your finances. At first
don't worry about correcting Mint's categories for your
expenses, you can do this later, this is more about just seeing
your balances all in one place.

3. Use Mint's offline bill pay function to set up bill reminders
for paying your bills. It takes a little time but it will be worth
it. Get all your monthly, quarterly, and yearly bills into Mint. It
is okay if you miss some of them, you can add them later.
After that you can change your notification preferences on
Mint.

4. Use EasyBudgetOnline.com (spreadsheet) to figure out your
basic budget.

5. Open one joint Checking account at Capital One 360 (this is
done online). Set an overdraft limit (I recommend $100 or
$200 dollars). This allows this debit card to turn into a credit
card if you overdraft. This debit card will be used for buying
groceries. Link Capital One 360 to your current primary
checking account (bill paying account)

6. Open two separate non joint checking accounts (one for you
and one for your spouse) at PNC Bank (best if you can go to
the bank for this). These accounts will be for you and your
spouse's personal spend money. PNC bank has no minimum
balance, and reimburses any ATM fees. The ATM cards should
be set up to decline if there is not enough money in the
account when you try to make a purchase. There are no fees
for these accounts as long as you direct deposit to these
accounts. I just want to point out that these accounts are not
in the same bank as your current primary checking account
(bill paying account) this is intentional, just keep your current
local checking account as long as you are not paying a lot of
fees.

7. Separate your grocery, prescriptions, doctor co-pays, and
gasoline, and figure out a weekly total budget for these
combined items. Deposit this amount into your bills account
and then use Capital one 360 to auto transfer this amount to
your capital one 360 checking account each payday. On the
(easybudgetonline.com) spreadsheet just add this amount as
another monthly bill so your spend money will only be what
you put in your personal spend money accounts. By using
Capital one 360 for your groceries you will not have to worry
about over drafting. If you go past your overdraft protection
limit, the card will be declined with no charges. (you can check
your balance anytime using Mint) Having this ATM card allows
for joint expenses that will not take away from your personal
spend money.

8. Figure out the personal spend money for both your and your
spouse (not your grocery money) and set up direct deposit to
"the two" PNC checking accounts. The remainder of your pay
check will be deposited into your primary checking account.
(bills account)

9. Once you get your other ATM cards from Capital One 360
and PNC, Take your ATM card for your primary checking
account (bill paying account) and put it in the safe, or destroy
it! You should never use this ATM card under any
circumstances and never use or carry this card!!!

10. Set up a secondary Mint.com account for the spouse of the
bill payer using their own email address, link their "personal"
PNC account, the Capital One 360 "grocery" account, and any
credit cards so your spouse can view them from their personal
mobile device. This allows them to see what is important; how
much is in your joint grocery account, and how much is in
their privet spend money account.

11. Capital one 360 can have up to 10 savings accounts with
no minimum balance, Take advantage of this and set up a
Christmas fund, Car repair fund, Vacation fund, and accounts
for any bills that are not monthly bills so the money will be
waiting when these bills are due. Make weekly or bi-weekly
auto transfers using capital one 360 from your bills account to
these savings accounts.

12. Keep in mind that you can customize Mint for each user,
and hide any accounts you don't need to view. It's best to just
hide savings accounts. The point of having Mint is to keep
track of what you spend. Try to get into a habit of not focusing
on savings and just let your saving grow, and try to keep your
eyes off of your savings accounts so you will not be tempted to
steal from your savings.

13. The whole purpose of this set up is to completely eliminate
credit cards. You don't need them. At first while you are
getting adjusted to being on a budget, it will be difficult, but
once you start to save a little, you eventually will be able to
function just fine without credit cards. In order to be
successful in budgeting, you have to take away your ability to
have easy access to borrowing money. Buy setting up
accounts this way you will always know exactly what you have
available to spend at any time you feel you have the need to
buy something. Weather that might be groceries, or buying
something on the fly. If the money is not there, then you just
simply wait until your next deposit. In the meantime, you
don't need to worry if you will have enough money to pay the
bills, the money will be there when it's time to pay the bills.

14. In the end you both will carry just 2 ATM cards each,
Capital one 360 Debit Card for joint purchases (Groceries,
Prescriptions, Gasoline, etc.) and one PNC Debit Card for
personal expenses (Convenience stores, amazon, eating out,
clothing, kids, etc.) If you use all the money in these accounts
between pay checks, it will not affect paying your bills.



You may see a little variation from the step by step
instructions and the family budget overview. The main reason
for the changes is the step by step directions completely
eliminate the use of a credit card. For many people this is
probably a best option, but there may be some people that
would prefer the credit card method used in the following
overview;

The Family Budget Overview
So what we are going to focus on is home and personal
budgets for a family. In general there will be 4 separate
budgets for a single family; one budget for the bills, one for
consumable supplies (groceries), and two separate personal
spend money budgets; one for you and one for your spouse. I
want to make clear before we start that you and your spouse
would only be depositing into two accounts from your pay
checks; one joint account for bills, and one "personal spend
money" account.
In a case where it might be difficult to make changes to your
direct deposit, it may be easier to only deposit into a single
account. Just follow the steps in the last paragraph "Single
Income Two People" to allow for a single account direct
deposit.

Bills

Home Bills will be the first thing that we look at, Home Bills
would include all monthly bills for the home and any other
loans or credit card bills paid monthly. This money needs to be
separated from the start before any other budget is
considered. There will be a "bills only account" created (this
will be your primary joint checking account), and this account
will only be used for the home budget and never touched for
any other expenses, this account should not even have an ATM
card. Also this account will have a minimum level say 500 or
1000 dollars, So in other words when your reach your
minimum amount it should be treated as zero in this account,
it is important to keep this safety net, but also there is a
maximum which would be slightly above your total monthly
budget, anything above this should be transferred to savings.
The reason for this is because you want this account to only be
focused on paying the bills, we don't want this account to
become a savings account.

Fine tuning your bill paying

There will be some additional savings accounts created to
cover bills that are not monthly, some examples of this would
be; car insurance, Taxes, Car repair fund, Tuition fund, Kids
expense fund, Vacation fund, Christmas fund, etc. At the
Beginning of creating your Family Budget you don't need focus
on creating these extra accounts, it can be done later once you
get your budget in place. The amounts that go into these
specific savings accounts are just estimates that can be
transferred from your bill paying account on a weekly or
biweekly basis. Most banks have the ability to set up auto
transfers and we can set that up for the day after your direct
deposits are made. By doing this you will not get a false sense
that there is extra money in your "bills account", when it
comes time for paying these odd bills, you just transfer the
money back into your bill paying account when the odd bills
are due.

Groceries

Next we need to look at consumable supplies. Primarily this
would be your groceries, but I like to put a few other items
that fluctuate into this category, things that are mandatory
but also fluctuate from month to month such as; gas for cars,
medication and doctor co pays. You need to create an
estimated amount for each of these and come up with a
Bi-weekly limit for this budget. I prefer to use a credit card for
these expenses, but you could set up a separate ATM if you
don't have discipline to not use credit. You need to strictly only
use this card for these specific consumables and nothing else.
This card should be paid off every 2 weeks. I use Mint.com to
monitor this card. If you reach your max budget for 2 weeks,
then you have to take money from your personal budget to
cover additional expenses. By using Mint.com, this will allow
both you and your spouse to always check the balance before
you use this card.

Personal Spend Money

After the Bills and consumable budgets are completed, then
we can take a look at personal budgets. Each adult should
have a spend money account. I prefer to use Capital One 360
to set up personal accounts. Don't set these accounts up as
joint accounts, set them up as personal accounts. This is
basically your individual weekly spend money for things such
as eating out, buying cloths, Amazon, etc., but you will always
know how much money you can spend on things, and you
don't need to get permission from your significant other to
spend this money.

There are 2 things about Capital One 360 that make it
worthwhile, One is that if you overdraft this account it turns
into a credit card, there are no overdraft fees, Of course you
don't want to make that a habit, but if you direct deposit to
this account every pay check, you will pay almost nothing if
your overdraft. Number two is that it is very easy to transfer
money where you need it. You can transfer to any other
account you have, plus you have the option to set up savings
accounts for yourself and set up auto transfers to a savings
account on the days you get paid. Once again I just want to
repeat; you will only be depositing your pay check into two
accounts; you joint checking "bills account", and your personal
account. The money you want to put into savings can be
handled by auto transfers at the bank. This makes fine tuning
your budget much easier; you don't have to access direct
deposit every time you want to make a small adjustment.

One more Detail; the money that is left over for personal
budgets is not going to seem like much, but keep in mind that
your consumables are separated from your personal budget.
Personal is exactly what it is meant to be and you will also find
that when you both have a separate personal budget, it
becomes easier to help each other out when there are
unexpected expenses.




Monitoring Your Money

I mentioned Mint.com previously, this mobile App and
computer service is an excellent way to monitor every part of
your finances, almost without any thought, you can view
everything in one place. I do not use their bill paying service,
but if you set up the bill reminders using the "off line" option
you will get notifications to pay bills as they become due
without using the bill paying service from Mint. Also, you
should set up a separate login for Mint for you and your
spouse. You can put your personal spend and savings accounts
on your own sign in, but also still receive information for your
shared accounts and credit cards. This allows you to
personalize the information that you want to see for each
person. You can also hide accounts from your view; I generally
only monitor the accounts that have a lot of transactions,
things like my Christmas fund I hide because I only need to
view that account once a year. Sometimes it's better to ignore
the accounts that are meant for a specific purpose, that way
you are not tempted to steal from those funds when you have
a hard week.

Single Income Two People

In the case of one person not having steady or no income, The
unsteady income could be deposited fully into the bills
account, and an automatic transfer could be made to the
personal spend money account of the person with unsteady
income. Each Adult should have at least some personal spend
money and the ability to save some of it, and it is best to
budget this money. This will create a stable weekly amount
and the individual will have a clear idea of what they can
spend weekly. Credit Cards should not be used for personal
expenses, there might be a few exceptions to gain an
advantage, but in general it is best not to use a credit card
unless you can pay it off immediately.

Take a look at my spreadsheet on easybudgetonline.com to
get things started, but I would be glad help out and do an
interview and help set things up based on who will pay the
bills. Everything is flexible because everyone is a little
different, but I can show you how to set up a budget which
will minimize problems, it takes a little time to maximize
efficiency, but eventually it will take away the mistakes that
cause most of the stress associated with money. Once in place
there is almost no thinking needed, just little adjustment
made as things change over time.