A household budget planner is essential in a single income household. Expenses can quickly overtake your income level if you don't stay ahead of the game and incredibly organized.
The key to using a planner is to stay organized. A bill pile just won't work. A pile of bills can be overwhelming and cause you to just close the drawer and walk away. Instead, a planner offers a place to put all your bills (with pockets and listings of contact information) and what you owe in a quick reference manner.
For the planner to stay organized, you have to enter every bill and payment as they come in and you make them. Your budget and household will quickly get out of control if you don't take the time to do this.
Ask for Help
If you have an older child or friend who knows how to use a budget planner, consider asking them to help. Your child can enter bills as they come and help you stay on track for expenses. If old enough, he can help you brainstorm how to cut expenses to make sure you end up in the black every month. A trusted friend can help you when you mess up entries, or answer questions and provide support.
Know Your Income to Expense Ratio
Look through your bills and take a look at the first month in the planner to see how much you make against how much you have to pay out. When looking at expenses, don't forget to add in things that aren't invoiced, like groceries, gas, car maintenance, clothing, etc. Once you have a complete listing of expenses, you can see if you're over or under your income.
Cut Back Where Needed
Most single income households find they need to cut back a bit to make it work. Sit down and look at your expenses to find out where you can trim the fat. Look for "wants" that are being treated as "needs" and trim those. Don't completely strip your life of any joy; instead find lower cost ways to still have the things you love. Instead of eating out every night, save it for a monthly treat or learn how to cook your favorite take out food right at home.
A single income household doesn't have to mean past due and unpaid bills. Using a household budget planner you can stay ahead of the game and be able to adjust expenses throughout the month to ensure basic needs are met. Enlist your family or kids to help and you'll teach them about the value of money and help them feel included in the process. Continuously assess and update your monthly budget as needed. If you pay a bill off completely, take it off the list and give yourself a little treat. If regular expenses change, make those changes as well.