Our budgeting system is very different from anything else out there. So we get asked a lot, “What are the steps?” “What do I have to do to make this work?”
We’ve broken it down to 3 basic steps that will hopefully make things a little more clear.
Step 1 – Use The Free Spreadsheet!
We start with the spreadsheet. You can download it over here.
I know it can be scary when someone tells you to open a spreadsheet and start working. We made ours as easy as possible to use. We broke it all up into small steps that are listed out along the bottom of the spreadsheet in tabs and numbered for you. We have a video here that shows you how to use it.
The other benefit to our system is that this is a one time thing. You aren’t going to have to come back into this spreadsheet each week or month to move things around or edit it. We only look at ours every 6 months or so just to make sure nothing big has changed. So I know it will be some work upfront, but it’s going to be worth it!
As you go through the steps in the spreadsheet you will enter your income and your fixed expenses (your bills). That’s pretty typical, but we don’t use the information the same way other budgets do. On a typical budget you would only do this for the next month and then you would have to match up your income and expenses until they net to $0.
With our system, we’re looking ahead 2 years. So you will be able to see MUCH further into your future. Also, you don’t need to create a bunch of categories and match everything up. Instead, you’ll figure out your Happy Money. This is a weekly allowance that will cover everything that isn’t a fixed expense. There are some indicators on the spreadsheet and a chart to help you play around with that number until you figure out what will work for your specific financial situation. You can see how to do that in this video.
Step 2 – Spend Your Happy Money!
Once you have your happy money amount, you are done with the spreadsheet! Now you spend your Happy Money!
Your Happy Money is a weekly allowance. It is there to be spent on whatever you need or want. There’s no judgement from us or anyone else about how you use it. It is really simple to track as you go throughout the week because it is just one number to manage. There’s no categories to worry about. No planners or highlighters to map everything out. You make decisions as you go throughout the week.
Even better, you get a whole new allowance each week! Every week is a new chance to decide how to use your Happy Money and make changes or corrections from previous weeks.
You can track that one number any way you like. Personally we use an app called GoodBudget which is free. We’ve got a video here showing how to set it up. Every time you spend money throughout the week, you just enter it in the app and it tells you how much you have left. It isn’t complicated. Anything that helps you keep a running total will work fine.
Step 3 – Forget The Rest!
Just pay attention to your Happy Money each week. You don’t have to worry about anything else. The work you did in the spreadsheet made sure that everything else will work out.
Worried about when payday is? It doesn’t matter. The timing of all your income and bills has already been worked through on the spreadsheet. (Good thing we made that for you!) You can set up all of your bills on autopay. The money will be there when it needs to be.
Worried about your bank balance? It doesn’t matter. As long as you stay within your weekly allowance, everything else will work out.
Our system drastically simplifies how you manage your finances. All you pay attention to is your Happy Money week by week. Everything else is already handled. When you were working through the spreadsheet, you already did all of the hard, responsible work that you needed to. After that, forget it! There is no value to worrying about it.
We go back to the spreadsheet every 6 months or so and start our budget over again. ( I say start over again, but really we just change the start date on the first tab of the spreadsheet, update the bank balance, and update the next paycheck date). This is just a check to make sure we are still on track. It also gives us a chance to get rid of some of those fixed expenses if we want to. Other than that, we don’t really look at the spreadsheet. We forget it and focus on our Happy Money each week.
That’s how we live on The Happy Giraffe Budget. We use the spreadsheet to figure out what our Happy Money should be, we spend our Happy Money each week on whatever we want or need, and we forget the rest.
There’s no wasted time, no month end guilt trips, no category tracking, no judgement, no planners, no highlighters, nothing to plan out each time payday comes, no worrying when bills are due, no checking the bank balance to decide if we can afford something, no feeling overwhelmed, no feeling like a failure. All of that is gone.
It’s happier than anything you have used before. It’s simple. It’s proven. It works. (It’s completely free too)