When you’re young and single, making and sticking to a budget is relatively simple. But once you add in a spouse, kids, and the myriad of expenses that come along with adulthood, budgeting can become very tricky.
According to one Gallup poll, only one in three Americans regularly prepare a detailed budget. Yikes!
How can this be when there are so many software programs out there?
Well, the answer may be simply that there are too many programs available or that the programs are too complicated. I know I’ve gotten overwhelmed more than once by the many programs out there.
Judy Lawrence, in her book, The Budget Kit, seeks to demystify the budget process and help readers make a budget that works so they can accomplish their financial goals. Now in its 6th edition, The Budget Kit is easy to follow and implement.
What The Book Includes
The main component of the book are the budgeting forms that Lawrence has created after years working as a financial planner and budget coach. Forms include:
- Net Worth Statement
- Identified Goals Worksheet
- Goals Savings Record
- Needs/Wants List
- Suggestion List—Additional Non-Monthly Expenses
- Yearly Budget Worksheet
- Gift Giving Worksheet
- Christmas/Holiday Expense Worksheet
- Source of Money for Gifts and Holiday Expenses
- Monthly Budget Worksheet
- Variable Income Worksheet
- Basic Monthly Household and Personal Expenses
- Windfall Planner
- Multiple Sales Monthly Planner
- Debt Payoff Record
- Debt Repayment Worksheet
- Credit Card Purchase Record
- Monthly Expense Record
- Summary for the Year Record
- Summary for Monthly Savings/Investments/Retirement
- End-of-the Year Tax Information
- Medical Expense Record
- Flexible Spending Account Record
- Tax-Deductible Expense Record
- Miscellaneous Expense Record
- Investment/Savings Record
- Savings Activity Record
- Child Support Records
- Subscription Record
- Online and Mail Order Purchase Record
If you complete all of the forms, you will have a comprehensive, very detailed look at your financial situation. Lawrence even quotes one college student who said he carried the book around with him to glance at before he spent money and to fill out when he did spend money.
What I appreciated about this book is that Lawrence, through years of experience, has come up with nearly all the possible situations when you may need to spend money. Fill out her worksheets and forms, and you’ll never again be surprised by an unexpected or irregular expense.
Who The Book Is Best For
This book is great for everyone, but especially those who are new to budgeting or trying to get a handle on where their money is going every month.
While Lawrence encourages people to physically write down their budgets with paper and pencil at least the first month, that isn’t the only method she recommends. She also acknowledges that there are plenty of good online budgeting programs, and that the readers should use the ones they’re most comfortable with if they prefer to do their budgets electronically. Lawrence’s book is compatible with online budgeting software.
If you do prefer to keep a budget with pencil and paper, Lawrence has conveniently set up a website that has copies of all of her forms so that you can print them as needed.
Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Book
I appreciated all of the detail that Lawrence put into the book and the forms. My husband and I often wonder why our budget works on paper but never turns out right once the month is over. Using Lawrence’s form to track unexpected and irregular expenses, we realized we weren’t accounting for some of these in the budget. This was an eye opener, but it also helped us draft a more realistic budget.
The only downside to the book is that for many people, Lawrence may be too detailed. If you’re not a budget numbers nerd (said in kindness from a fellow numbers nerd), this book may be too tedious for you.
If you routinely get frustrated by your budget and can’t figure out where all of your money is going, this is the book for you. Lawrence includes inspiring stories of people who have used her forms and not only paid off debt, but gone on to invest great sums of money.