In Lesson 1: Checkbook Duh! Factors, you were introduced to the concept of lagging and future commitments. In other words, the bank doesn’t know if a check is about to be cashed or that you will need to write a check for a bill that’s about to arrive.
In this lesson, you will be introduced to multiple processes and how they relate to each other. Why introduce all the processes at once? Learning one process after the next can be a challenge if you don’t already know what’s coming.
To make my point, would you feel comfortable if someone said, “We are traveling from Virginia to California. Follow me?” I suspect that before you leave you would want to know the route, the supplies you need to bring, and the mode of transportation – in the least.
Therefore, before we travel through the basic (and somewhat overlapping) processes, let’s review.
- Get ready
- Set up the spreadsheet
- Build a plan
- Track commitments
- Balance against the bank
- Adjust for the future
This is the process where you make a list of all your financial commitments and put them in chronological order so that you can set up the digital tracker and planner in Lesson 4: Set up the spreadsheet.
Here’s a sneak peek into the topics covered in Lesson 3, Get Ready.
- Financial commitments and due dates
- Loan and credit card payoff balances
- Income deposit dates
- Savings account balance
- Current checking account balance
- Outstanding transactions
Set up the Spreadsheet
Whether you get paid once a month or multiple times a month, each build-a-plan process starts with the spreadsheet.
Even if you haven’t used a spreadsheet before, Lesson 4: Set Up the Spreadsheet walks you through setting up a free spreadsheet. If you are spreadsheet savvy, Lesson 4 will require a quick scan. If you are new to spreadsheets, a cost effective strategy is presented to help you get started.
Build a Plan
The timing of your paycheck and financial commitments can create challenges. The first step in bringing your financial management process under control is determining when your issues occur.
Start by choosing a build-a-plan lesson based on how often you get paid. Then review Lesson 5d: Front Loaded Paycheck Plan.
- Lesson 5a: Single Monthly Paycheck Plan
- Lesson 5b: Twice a Month Paycheck Plan
- Lesson 5c: Every Two Weeks Paycheck Plan
- Lesson 5d: Front Loaded Paycheck Plan
Each planning lesson walks you through populating the digital tracker and planner spreadsheet. The topics covered for each payment timeline plan include:
- Enter financial commitments
- Enter paychecks
- Project the future
- Make adjustments
Tracking planned commitments in real time is key to understanding where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going.
Lesson 6: Tracking Commitments, is the first step in the two-step process of balancing your checking account – a critical undertaking. It will explore the following topics.
- Payments cleared
- Pending payments
Balance Against the Bank
This is the second step in the two-step process for balancing your checking account, therefore, the topics overlap. Once you complete step one, your digital tracker balance will likely not match the bank’s. That’s okay.
The objective of this step is to do some simple math and ensure that, eventually, your tracker will match the bank and visa versa.
Lesson 7, Balancing Against the Bank, will include these topics.
- Pending payments
- Pending deposits
- Simple math
Adjust for the Future
Given the nature of the digital tracker and planner, you will already have insight into the future. However, the future that you plan can be derailed due to unexpected transactions. Therefore, in this last process, you make adjustments to ensure that there will be enough money in the bank when commitments come due.
Lesson 8, Adjust for the Future, will cover the following topics.
- Review the months to come
- Making adjustments
Return to the process of tracking commitments and repeat the balancing against the bank process before checking your future again.
Future topics will include topics such as
- Credit Cards Can Make You Money and Raise Your Credit Score
- Stopping the Debt Craziness and Manage Your Cash Flow
- Savings Goals Come in Many Sizes
- Emergency Credit Card Usage
Next Lesson …
It’s time to get ready with Lesson 3. Even if you have a list of your commitments ready to go, my experience working with others has shown that there are often overlooked transactions. So, please don’t skip the next lesson.