A Peek into My Financial Notebook {and Why You Should Have One}

 This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Keep track of essential budget information in a financial notebook. Gives you a current snapshot of your entire finances!

I’ve recently been tweaking the ins and outs of my personal budget, income, expenses, and receipts. Everything was working fairly well, but I often found myself trying to update paper notebooks, Mint.com, and my Excel spreadsheets….all at once.

Ever so slowly, I’ve been transferring all that information to Excel, so I can have everything in one single, simple place.

I’m still in love with my notebooks, and like to use them in addition to my Excel sheets, but my 3-ring homemaking binder {which has most of my financial info in it} was falling apart. I’ll take any excuse to buy a new one.

They have crazy cute stuff, including fun post-it notes that would be a great addition to your home or work office. You know me and post-it notes!

post it notes

They also have fabric covered 3-ring binders that are absolutely adorable, and I was so excited to get my hands on one.

They are a little pricier than those cheap plastic covered cardboard notebooks from Walmart, but I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy this one is. I really don’t see it falling apart anytime soon.

financial notebook

How excel and physical notebooks work together

Maybe you’re wondering how a 3-ring binder fits in with my Excel spreadsheets?

Because computers die, hard drives crash, and flash drives get lost. That means it’s smart to keep a physical copy of your finances in a separate place.

It’s also really nice to grab a notebook during budget family chats, rather than opening every file on the computer. You can reference spending habits, job income, and personal profit/loss statements with ease.

And yes, I am so analytical that I do create profit/loss statements!

Rental Profit/Loss Statement

Here’s what I have in my financial notebook and why

  • Financial Goals – Every frugal should really have some. These should also be the very first page of your notebook so you are reminded every time you take a look at your budget. We’ll be talking about creating financial goals closer to New Years, so stay tuned. Update: Here’s the post!
  • Total IncomeTracking income helps me see what kind of cash we are working with each month. Because neither of us are salaried {and sometimes Joseph gets a lot of overtime}, it can really fluctuate, but at least we have an average to reference. This is also useful to figure out giving, because you can immediately determine the percentage of gross income that needs to be taken out for church, charity, etc.
  • Total Spending  – We like to track every single penny, so we can achieve most, if not all, of our financial goals. There are totals for each month, year, and category. If one category starts to get a little out of control, we can catch it before a disaster happens. Ex. Our eating out budget.
  • Car Repairs – I like to keep track of how many repairs each car has to see how much we are actually spending to maintain the vehicle. So far, the VW has been the best investment!
  • Utilities Analysis – This is where I take all my utility bills for electric, heat, etc, and figure out the averages for certain times of the year. Not only does it help me budget better, it also lets me know if an energy efficient investment actually worked.
  • Personal Profit/Loss Statements by Year – This includes rental income, personal income, and all our expenses. If you save more than you spend, this will be a positive number at the end of the year, which is what we want!
  • Rental Profit/Loss Statements by Year – This shows us how our rental property does standing on it’s own, meaning it includes only rental income and rental expenses. {Also includes itemized deductions.}

The purpose of my notebook is to give me a quick snapshot of my financial situation every month and year. I leave tax forms, banking, and earning statements in a filing cabinet because I’m less likely to reference them as often.

Tracking Spending

Ready to start your own financial notebook?

Grab yourself a pretty and cute 3-ring binder like I did, add some dividers, and start tracking your finances.

It doesn’t even have to be as complex as an Excel spreadsheet – you can totally use a piece of notebook paper and a pen if that’s what works for you. Use this post to guide you towards exactly the kind of information you want to include.

They key is to start keeping track, and have a one-stop-shop for all your financial information. It will make family meetings, goal setting, and changing spending habits so much easier!

Do you have a financial notebook?

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

I received a free notebook and post-its from Office Candy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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    1. It appears their shop is no longer running. I’m checking into it but for now I removed the link. Thank you so much for pointing that out, Caryn.

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who tracks personal profit/loss, only I have been doing mine monthly since 2009! I do love spreadsheets. Lol

  2. I loved reading your post! I’m a 21 year old college student with a full time job and really want to get all my financial stuff together. I was thinking about starting a notebook and budgeting, I just really don’t know where to start. Thank you so much!

    1. You’re welcome, Lindsey!! So glad this post could help you. {And you are super smart to be doing this stuff now, FYI!} πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for all of the advice and how-to’s! I found your site via Pinterest, and am loving it!!!

    I have an excel budget system, I have Mint, and I keep track of everything we spend and bring in in a little black “cash” book, but we’re still behind. At the moment we’re getting behind on payments and have a number of credit cards that are almost or completely maxed out. I guess my question is this: how do we get ourselves back to floating again instead of sinking? I just don’t get how we can get out of this when we can’t even make all of the minimum payments on everything. Do we consolidate what we can, or is there some other way? I have a set budget for groceries every 2 weeks, and after bills we have just enough money to fill the gas tanks for the 2 weeks between paychecks. I hope you can help, and if not at least point me in the right direction. Thanks for your time, and all of the awesome advice on here!!!!

    1. My heart goes out to you! It’s so tough being in a situation like this, and there have been many times when we have also found ourselves in something similar. My biggest thing to tell you is to try putting yourself on a no-spending freeze for a month. I know that sounds really crazy, but it’s doable! My friend, Ruth, at Living Well Spending Less has a great series you can go through, and she makes it really fun. http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/31-days/livingwellspendingzero/

      The second thing would be to go through your expenses one-by-one and see what you can cut or drastically reduce. I have a series here that I am currently working through if you haven’t seen it yet. I know I’ve already saved by implementing some of my own tips! https://kalynbrooke.com/how-to-reduce-expenses/

      Third, what can you sell? The first thing I look for when money is tight, is things to get rid of that I don’t really use or need. We made $10 on Craigslist selling an old ceiling fan last week, and this week I posted a book on Amazon that made me a few dollars. It might not seem like much, but it all adds up in the long run.

      Fourth, start a budget if you haven’t already, or completely overhaul the one you do have. Sometimes, all it takes is starting over and figuring out all the numbers again. Here is my beginner’s guide to take you through all the steps: https://kalynbrooke.com/beginners-guide-to-budgeting/

      I hope that helps, and please don’t hesitate to email [email protected] if you have any more questions!!

  4. LOL…love the post. I got to it through Pinterest. Do you have a post on the step by step for dummies version to set something like this up? How about one on budgeting?

    Thank you from one who is financially ignorant and tries hard to keep it all together.

  5. This is a great post! I found it through Pinterest, but where are the follow-ups to this post? I can’t seem to find them. I love geeky, number-crunching Excel spreadsheets too & we are about to overhaul or budget, so I’d love to see what other advice you have!

        1. Yes – I’m planning on discussing financial goals in January, and have some extra Excel posts that I’d like to cover in the new year. I love that you think pie charts are fun…..I totally do too! πŸ™‚

  6. this is a great idea, You can see quick snapshots of your finances all in one spot instead of having to look through several statements.

  7. Thanks for such a great post! I have files, but not an actual notebook.. I think I’m going to have to do a notebook instead now! Hope you don’t mind I shared the post with my readers via Facebook & Twitter πŸ™‚

    I also would be interested in a post on lasik and the cost/financial aspects involved.. Hope everything goes smoothly for you.

  8. Good post! Will you blog about lasik and costs/the financial aspects from your perspective? I’d love to have it and need to add it to our goals list:-) Good luck with your surgery.

    1. I was going back and forth with whether or now to post about it, but I do have some ideas in mind of how I would approach it. I just wasn’t sure there would be interest – so thank you for asking, and for your well-wishes!

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