A few years ago, I discovered the book “The Budget Kit” by Judy Lawrence in a used bookstore. I swooped it up and am using it as a fantastic resource in putting our financial house in order.
It seemed natural that I would share the book with you guys, and in planning to review it here at The Saved Quarter, I checked out the author’s website and found that mine is an older version. I e-mailed Judy to ask if she would send a copy of the current edition for me to review and one to give away to a lucky reader. I’m happy to report that Judy agreed not only to send two copies of the 5th edition of “The Budget Kit”, but to call me for a chat about the book! And so I am offering my very first giveaway! Read through to the end of this post to see how to enter for a chance to win.
“The Budget Kit” has been in continuous print since 1981, has sold over 400,000 copies, and is the #11 personal finance book on amazon.com. Its endurance is understandable when you look at its logical and user-friendly layout and thoughtful worksheets that help you to manage your finances from every angle. Judy sat at thousands of kitchen tables to talk about what these worksheets needed and it shows! She has revised them over the years to incorporate more ideas to make it as comprehensive as possible while still keeping it organized in a way that people naturally think.
The three worksheets that are the cornerstone of the book are the Yearly Budget Worksheet, Monthly Budget Worksheet, and Monthly Expense Record.
The Yearly Budget Worksheet gives you a place to track irregular expenses that are expected but not monthly, such as property taxes, car registration, or dental exams. These are the things that can sink a monthly budget, since they’re not regular payments and are easy to overlook until they’re due. This worksheet covers just about every non-monthly expense that you can imagine; you add them up and divide by 12, putting that monthly amount into savings so you have the money for your kid’s school yearbook or tax preparation when you need it.
The Monthly Budget Worksheet is similar to other budgets you might have seen, but its set up makes it very easy to understand and use. Fixed expenses, fixed variable expenses, occasional expenses, and installments are listed separately so you can better manage your month. Columns give you a place to write amount, when items are due and when they’re paid, and the dates you receive the service. It’s a very well thought out budgeting tool!
My very favorite of the three main worksheets (and there are at least a dozen more in the book!) is the Monthly Expense Record. A two-page spread with a row for each day and a column for every type of expense, it’s a great way to visually see where your money is coming from and going to. If you have five entries this week for vending machine snacks, you may begin to see how that $1.25 adds up more quickly than you thought. This worksheet alone is worth the cost of the book!
Other worksheets include a debt repayment plan, Christmas/holiday budget, tax deductible expense record, medical expense record, investment/savings record, child support record, and more.
In our phone conversation, Judy explained that her goal in writing the book
…is to help people plan a budget in a way that makes sense, encourages you to be in control, and for you to build up confidence. It’s all about becoming conscious and mindful of finances as well as your inner self.
What is the spending about? A budget is not about deprivation. Watch the language you are using and approach your finances with an attitude of gaining mastery. What will feel better in a month? A new blouse or paying off a debt, not having that angst anymore? Which is more important: a piece of furniture or peace of mind?“
Couples, Judy stressed, should work together; both partners need to be on board for the plan to be most beneficial. With fights about money being a common cause for divorce, it’s understandable that working together would be invaluable for maintaining marital peace surrounding money issues.
She also mentioned that the physical act of writing can make you more connected to your finances, which is why she recommends writing in the workbook to start, although Excel versions of her worksheets are available on her website.
Now for your chance to win! We have two giveaways:
1. “The Budget Kit” by Judy Lawrence, 5th edition
2. 30-minute one-on-one phone call with author Judy Lawrence.
You have two chances to enter.
1. Leave a comment here
2. Blog about this giveaway on your own blog (or Tweet it), and come back here to leave a second comment with a link to your post.
A winner will be randomly drawn at 8 pm PST on Tuesday, February 16 and the winner will be e-mailed.
In the meantime, check out Judy’s website and the other services she offers: personal budget coaching, a free 7-week e-course, Excel versions of her worksheets, and her other books. If you have a question about “The Budget Kit”, contact her; she’s very friendly and wants to help you to be in control of your money!
Disclosure: Giveaway and review copies were provided by Kaplan Publishing at my request. They did not influence the content of this post.
You’ll find this post linked to Works for Me Wednesday, The Thrifty Home, Thrifty Thursday, Money Saving Mom’s Giveaways Galore, Saving Money Plan’s Giveaway Link-up, Frugal Friday , Frugal and Fabulous.