18 July 2012

Laurie's personal Aston as Financial Filofax

Now that I'm trying to become homeowner, I have to stick to a strict budget. I know Personal Finances 101: the first step to sticking to a budget is to track all expenditures.

Last fall I used Expenses pages in my Filofax to track my expenditures, and it was really good except I never did anything with the information. This time it's for real: I have to calculate how much I'm spending each month on groceries, gas, and other expenses so I know if I'm sticking to the budget or if I'm overspending and need to cut back. So I write everything I spend into the Expenses pages in my Filofax, then at the end of each month I'll break down the totals by category.

For a few days I used my Aston as my wallet too. I used the full-length pocket inside the front cover for cash and the zip pocket in the back for coins.  My cards went in the slots inside the front cover. But I discovered this was harder to deal with than my wallet. Maybe I'm just used to my wallet, but I found the Filofax-as-wallet was too fiddly. I had the cards and cash in the front, but had to flip to the back to fish out coins. I had to flip to the expenditures pages to write in the amount while waiting for my change or for my card to process. It just didn't work well for me so I went back to my wallet, and now I usually put my receipts in my wallet to write in later when I have more time.

In addition to tracking expenses, I'm tracking gas (petrol) usage to get an idea of how much my car uses. I have a sheet of paper where I write the Date, Place I filled up, Price per Liter, Number of Liters I bought, and Total cost. That way I can see how often I fill up, and see price trends so I know which places usually have the cheapest prices.

Recently I became a member of one of those bulk-buying stores. I keep a list in my Aston of things to buy there, because I plan to only go once per month or less so I need to keep a running list.

I'm also making a list of items I buy periodically (like printer ink cartridges) with price comparisons at different stores. Whenever I happen to be in each store, I'll write the price of each thing so the next time I need to buy, I'll know which store to buy at.

I'm compiling a list of one-time purchase items we'll need for the house. There are some big-ticket items, like a lawnmower and electric hedge trimmer, all the way down to more mundane things like a mop and bucket. I'll note prices at different stores so when it's time to buy these I'll know where to get them.

And, I'm making a wish list and gift list for myself and family members, so when something we want goes on sale I can remember to buy it.

Because this Filofax goes everywhere in my bag with me, I also write things down that I want to do in the local area or elsewhere in Scotland. I'm always seeing notices for cool events that are coming to the castles near me, concerts, cultural events and other fun stuff. Now with my Aston handy I can capture all this information before I forget.

Also, in the front of my Filofax I keep Emergency information and numbers, car insurance info, and the Home Sweet Home form from the Family Lifestyle Pack for quick-reference numbers for utility companies, phone/ internet and mobile providers, etc.

I don't use this Filo as my planner, but I do use a monthly calendar in it to record coupon expiration dates so I can use them before they expire.  I also write in bills' due dates, and I keep a list of recurring annual expenses (car insurance x 2, MOT inspections and car tax x 2, Life and Accident insurance, Home insurance, etc.). Keeping a list of these dates and amounts due reminds me to save a little each month for these to avoid being surprised with a big outlay when they are due.

I have a Sticky Notes accessory because I use sticky flags to mark my lists. I refill the accessory with tape flags from Tesco.

I also have my Filofax calculator on the rings for quick calculations.

And, I keep my contacts in the A-Z tabs for easy reference.

I use Business Card holders in the back of the Aston to hold business cards and my library card.

Sorry no photos but since this is all personal/ financial info there's nothing I can really show you!  If you want more specifics just let me know. :)


  1. Quick tip in terms of one time purchases, find a factory store! we got a lawnmower and strimmer for £50 and they have EVERYTHING so much cheaper. Basically anywhere that sells returned catalogue shop items as most places won't put any returned item that has been opened back on the shelf! It's been a lifesaver for our house for things like furniture and other more expensive things, most will sell everything from printers and cameras to lawnmowers, wardrobes, beds and dining tables to cots and pushchairs, sometimes even wallpaper!

  2. Carrying your utility account details with you is a gift to all kinds of bad people if (heaven forbid) you ever lose it, or it gets stolen - identity fraudsters love that kind of thing, and could use it to set up other accounts posing as you, and even just someone finding it, if they're a "prankster" could use it to cause you significant problems.

    I'd advise you leave that data at home, or find your own method of coding the numbers, eg know that the last 4 digits of every account, you move up one on the scale of 0 - 9, so that say:

    3 7 9 3 7 6
    3 7 0 4 8 7

    You could underline the last four on a few as a reminder to yourself, or something. You really are carrying your entire life with you there, and you would be the one struggling to prove your identity if it fell into the wrong hands.

    I don't mean to alarm you there, and hope you don't think my comment is in bad taste or something!

    1. Very good advice indeed. I don't carry utility account numbers, banking information or codes. I just have the phone numbers for the gas, electricity etc in case something goes wrong I can call them quickly.

  3. I fully agree, trying to log expenditures as you stand at a checkout is too much trouble. Receipt capture is the way! Great post, Laurie!

    I actually do have my utility account numbers in my big Success Choice planner. I have used a coding system on my written passwords, but never thought anything of utility account numbers. Will need to think about that. I *really* like knowing that I've got all that info in one place, handy.

  4. Good post, Laurie. I like your ideas for a dedicated financial "planner." Right now I use my Malden to track short & long term shopping plus measurements and part/model info, but post receipts at home. While I totally get the need for security of passwords and account numbers, it is important to look at probabilities too. For example, where I live it is an extremely low crime zone (mostly because there are very few people). Doesn't mean it can't happen, but hasn't in 17 years. But on the other hand this area every year has one more more of the following: a road-closing blizzard, wildfires with evacuations & loss of property, earthquakes up to mag. 7, or 2-6 day power outages (accompanies any of the other phenomenon). One has to plan realistically, so my Malden has more "sensitive" information in it than it would if I lived in a city. When shopping in town, it has its own waist pack so I am securely fused to my Filo when out.