Do you ever find that it is difficult to remember things? A weak memory is often hard to fix, but there are some things you can do to help yourself remember things. I’ve actually found that having a budget helps me remember certain things. How is that? Well my budget is a spreadsheet where I enter in my expenses for each month and sometimes for each pay period. Our bills are generally the same each month, but by having a separate column for each month of the year in my budget, it enables me to remember things that only happen at a certain time of year. Here are a few of the things my budget has helped me to remember:
When my car tabs expire: This may sound odd because usually you get a reminder in the mail (probably because most people never actually look at their own license plate to notice what month they expire). This year, I never received one of those notices. We live in a different house than we did last year at this time so they didn’t have my correct address. I was looking at my budget one day and noticed that I had an amount listed under February that was for my license tabs. I realized that it was already February and I hadn’t gotten my renewal notice two months prior like I have in the past. I checked my registration and sure enough, they were about to expire. So I renewed them online without the reminder and got them before my old ones expired. I honestly would not have remembered to do that if it had not been in my budget and I could have even gotten a ticket for expired tabs. Every month in February and December, I have car tabs in our budget for both of our cars. It has always been so the expense isn’t a surprise when it comes, but this year it was also a handy reminder.
My Anniversary: OK, so my husband might need more of a reminder for this than me because chances are I won’t forget it. But on the month of our anniversary, I budget a certain amount of extra money for a nice dinner or a small vacation of some sort. It helps to remember to set aside some money to celebrate a little every year.
My online account usernames and passwords: Since my budget is in an excel spreadsheet, I have a second tab dedicated to all my online accounts and the usernames and passwords for each one. This helps me tremendously because if I need to log on to any of those accounts, I don’t have to remember every user name and password because I can just look it up on my list. Usually the only time I need to log on to these accounts is when I’m updating my budget so it’s actually pretty handy. A word of advice though – I password protect this document since it holds my financial information and all those passwords. That is definitely not something you want getting into the wrong hands.
Interest rate expiration dates: There are some great promotions where you can get an extremely low interest rate, or better yet a 0% interest rate on a credit card for a certain amount of time. The trick is that if you don’t pay off the balance before the promotional period ends, you usually get charged their regular (and usually ridiculously high) interest rate from the date of purchase. If you forget when that promotional period ends, it could cost you a lot of money. Whenever I have a promotional 0% interest rate, I always put the balance to be paid off in my budget a month before the period ends (just to be safe). In November we purchased new doors and windows for our house and since we signed up for the store’s credit card, we got no interest and no payments for 6 months. I put the full amount that was charged in our budget to be paid before the end of the promotional period. It’s easy to forget when it’s been 6 months and it’s even easier to forget when your promotional period is for a year or longer.
Utility costs: Can’t remember what your highest heating bill was last year? Look back at your budget. If you look back at an entire year of your budget you can see how your utility costs varied throughout the year (usually higher in the winter and sometimes in the summer as well, depending on where you live and if you have AC). This allows you to create a more realistic utility budget without having to remember a bunch of amounts from the previous year.
Having a budget is of course a great tool to help get your finances in order and can take away the stress of trying to remember a lot of different things. Now the one thing you have to remember yourself is to remember to actually update and use your budget.
Image courtesy of dharmacat