My Bullet Journal Monthly Layouts - October 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September is almost over and it's time to start creating those October monthly layouts! I'm embracing the Halloween spirit fully this month and using Halloween-themed washi tape on all of my monthly layouts. You've gotta love what you can find in the dollar aisle of Target!

My October Monthly Layouts

October 2016 Bullet Journal Monthly Layout

For my October monthly layouts, I've only tweaked one or two things. First, I'm trying out a grid view for my month overview spread rather than the traditional list view. When I've used the list view in the past, I've always had trouble trying to visualize where the weeks fall. I've tried drawing a box around the weekends in previous monthly overviews, but I think the grid view will better match what my brain expects a month to look like.

October 2016 Bullet Journal Monthly Layout Gratitude Log

I didn't make any changes to my gratitude log the month though. The list view for the month works well there, as I need all the space for writing that I can get. And even though I absolutely HATE spiders, I'm loving this cobweb washi tape.

October 2016 Bullet Journal Monthly Layout Budget Tracker

You're all pretty familiar with my Bullet Journal budget tracking pages by now. This month I made the areas for each paycheck a bit bigger and added specific lines for my leftover amounts after each week within a pay period. Remembering which weeks fall into which pay period can get confusing so I like how I have the dates already written down.

October 2016 Bullet Journal Monthly Layout Habit Tracker

Nothing new to see here, just some adorable glittery bat washi tape! One thing I'm going to focus on this month is incorporating my habit tracking more directly into my weekly and daily layouts. I'm starting to find that a single habit tracker gets kind of buried by the end of the month, which makes tends to make my habits slip from the forefront of my mind. But once again, the best part about a Bullet Journal is how you can morph it into what works best for you!

October 2016 Bullet Journal Monthly Layout Chores Tracker

As for my chores tracker, this seems to be working quite well. Boxing in which chores I typically do on which days helps make keeping my house presentable almost entirely mindless. And there's even more festive glittery washi tape!

I've kept it pretty simple this month, with only a few modifications from September's monthly layouts. I think I'm finally getting into a layout groove and it feels pretty satisfying!
What do your new October Bullet Journal monthly layouts look like?

30 Ideas For Your Autumn Bucket List

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gather up all your chunky knit sweaters and cozy blankets -- Autumn is finally here! This year the autumnal equinox fell on Thursday, September 22 and brought with it the official start to this wonderful season of changing leaves, warm scarves, and crisp air.

When I take some time to think about the autumnal equinox and what an equinox represents, I realize what a beautiful thing they really are. An equinox, which comes from Latin meaning 'equal night,' marks a point in the year when the day and the night are approximately the same length of time for all parts of the world. During an equinox the southern and northern hemispheres also receive exactly the same amount of light over the course of the day. For a brief moment, our world is in this wonderfully balanced, symmetrical state.

This year, the autumnal equinox has me thinking more about the balance in my own life. Have I been living in a way that promotes the success of my goals, or have I been allowing life to simply pass by? Have I been making those I love a priority or have I been forgetting to nurture those important relationships? Where have have I been focusing my energies? The past or the future?

One of my goals is to live more intentionally. I want to be sure I'm enjoying every moment to it's fullest; I want to revel in the purpose of life. It's easy to get caught up in day-to-day minutiae and forget appreciate the here and now and this includes the subtle shifts from one season to another.

I put together an autumn bucket list for this year so I could be sure I would continue enjoying all the delights of autumn, right up until the first snow! Here's all I hope to do this year:

My Autumn Bucket List

I've already checked of several things on my bucket list this year. Time to go check off even more!
What's on your autumn bucket list this year? 

Vacation Planning With A Bullet Journal

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Well, it's that time of year again! Summer is drawing to a close. Kids are going back to school, the days are getting shorter and the air is getting just ever-so-slightly cooler. Soon it'll be pumpkin spice everything, crunchy leaves and decking yourself in scarves. Until then, we're can desperately try to squeeze the last few drops out of summer. What better way to keep summer alive for just a little longer than one last summer vacation? These short, end-of-season trips are meant to be relaxing, simple getaways, but  they often turn into more hassle than they're worth. However, when you're vacation planning with a Bullet Journal everything seems so much easier to organize and it's actually possible to enjoy the final hurrah of the summer!

Let's Do This

For our last vacation of the summer, four of us decided to head to Denver, Colorado over Labor Day weekend for some good food, gorgeous hiking and seeing some beautiful art.

Now, as you could probably guess, I'm a pretty big planner. However, that's nothing compared to when my sister and I combine forces. She's a fellow Bullet Journalist and an even bigger type-A personality than I am. Since we were both going on this trip, we worked on planning it together. This meant that the whole thing -- flights, Airbnb, car rental, activities and restaurants -- was planned in a matter of hours!

I find that the best way to organize something out of the ordinary is to try to incorporate it into your normal routine as much as possible. That way things don't seem so stressful and planning doesn't seem so unapproachable. Because this trip was just a weekend trip, I already had the days in question in my weekly layout. Planning out our activities was as simple as filling in my weekly layout -- something I already do anyway!

All my vacation plans, right alongside my regular week tasks.
Even planning out restaurants was a snap. I already include a meal planning section in my weekly layout so dinner at Acorn, brunch at Sassafras, and a quick stroll around A Taste Of Colorado were all planned just as if I were planning a regular old weekend of meals.

Same goes for workouts! I'm obviously not going to be hitting the gym when I'm supposed to be relaxing, but when you're heading to mountains as picturesque as the Rockies, you have to do at least some hiking. A few trail names jotted down in Sunday's workout slot and I was good to go!

Packing Time

One of my biggest struggles when I go on vacation is trying not to take my entire closet with me. I always over-pack. Somehow I manage to convince myself that I'll be caught in a freak accident leaving me with drenched, muddy and completely ruined outfits. The fact that this has literally never, ever happened to me before and likely never will doesn't seem to matter to my brain at all.

So my attempt at drawing tiny mountains wasn't the best... At least my packing list was thorough!
In order to control the urge to pack everything I own, I created a packing list in my weekly spread. We had already planned out what activities we'd be doing each day, so it was super simple to plan out my outfits. In turn, knowing what I was going to wear made coming up with my full packing list a breeze.

Seeing everything I was bringing all written out really helped me visualize how much I already had and prevented me from convincing myself to bring anything extra.

It's Happening!

Once we hopped on the plane to Denver, my Bullet Journal was more invaluable than ever. I wrote down flight confirmation numbers and the address of our Airbnb so I wouldn't have to worry about my phone dying. During our trip, I wrote grocery lists and potential places to watch the Husker game on Saturday. (We're from Nebraska. Football fandom doesn't stop for vacation!) Most importantly, I used my Bullet Journal to track all our expenses.

Addresses, expenses, even a list of license plates we saw!
Once we got back to real life, calculating who owed what took no time at all! Getting used to early mornings and going to back to work though? That took a lot longer...

That's all I've got for my vacation planning with a Bullet Journal! Now it's your turn --
What do you do to help organize, plan and track your vacations?

My Bullet Journal Budget Method

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Get excited everybody! It's pay day! A few years ago, pay day meant I got a nice chunk of spending money for nights out and trips to the food truck. Now I have real-life adult responsibilities to deal with so I have to be more conscious of where my money goes and how much I'm spending. Naturally, I've created a Bullet Journal budget method to help keep my spending in check!

Creating A Monthly Budget

First of all, I have to admit that not all of my budgeting is done in my Bullet Journal. I've been using Mint for several years now to keep track of all my accounts. It's been invaluable for tracking my net income and account balances as well as creating a monthly budget to cover all of my expenses. I highly recommend creating a Mint account as a first step. However, while I love the broad overview Mint gives me, I haven't really been able to make it work on a daily or weekly scale with much success. Instead, I went analog; I now do the rest of my budget tracking in my Bullet Journal.

To start, I always note pay days in my monthly overview with a little green dollar sign, because who doesn't love knowing exactly when somebody is going to throw a bunch of money at you? I also create a budget worksheet in my monthly setup. This is where the magic happens.

My budget worksheet for September. Each pay day has it's own section that includes a checklist and a budget calculation formula.
At the top of my budget page, I write down how much I need for my monthly expenses. This doesn't really change for me from month to month, but it's a nice reference point. I then divide the page in two, since most months I just get two paychecks. Each section has the date of the paycheck, a little worksheet and a task list. I leave all of this blank until the big day -- pay day!

Pay Day!

When I'm creating my weekly spread, I check to see if Friday is a pay day in my monthly overview. If it is, I add a budgeting task to my weekly spread. Once Friday rolls around and my paycheck is deposited into my account it's time to check off that budgeting task!

I start my budgeting by filling out the little math problem on my worksheet. I enter the amount of the paycheck, then subtract half of my monthly budget. By removing half my expenses from my paycheck total I make sure I have enough in my account to cover everything. Next, I subtract how much I want to send to savings. I try to make this amount as big as I possibly can. The remaining amount is how much I can spend on things like food, gas, or any other fun things I want to do! Divide the amount by two and I know how much I can spend weekly.

Easy-peasy pay day budget worksheet, all filled out.
After I've nailed down my numbers I move on to the checklist. Each time I'm paid I make sure I transfer part of my paycheck to savings. When I do that, I also update a spreadsheet I keep that puts all of the money in my savings account into "buckets." I have an emergency fund, property tax savings, and savings for fun things like travel and house projects. A couple simple formulas in the spreadsheet help make sure all the totals are accurate and lets me easily visualize how much money I've saved for each goal.

The last item on my checklist is making sure that all my transactions are categorized properly in Mint. Usually Mint is pretty good about correctly categorizing transactions based on the vendor but occasionally I have to manually categorize things, especially if it's a local business. By keeping all my transactions categorized it makes it really easy to use Mint's spending trend reports and I can be sure they're 100% accurate.

Staying Accountable

Once the big budgeting event on pay day is over, I still do things on a daily level to make sure I'm staying within my spending limit. In my weekly spread I always include a simple grid of blank boxes, one box for every $10 I have in my weekly budget. The weekly spending budget comes from the calculations I did in my pay day budgeting worksheet. Every time I make a purchase, I just fill in the boxes in the grid. Now you might be saying "But my purchases aren't ever even $10 amounts!" and I totally agree, neither are mine. I usually just round up to the nearest $5 amount and fill in half boxes if I need to. If it's a bit over the amount I actually spent, oh well. Just another way to create a little extra savings for that month!

My simple budget tracker on my weekly layout. I fill in one square for every $10 spent.
Finally, at the end of each week I return to my budget worksheet for that pay period. If I have some of my weekly spending allotment that I didn't spend, I enter that amount in the "Leftover" section. When I do the next pay day worksheet, I total up the previous two week's leftover amounts and transfer that amount to savings in addition to what I'm saving from my paycheck. This is a great way to find some extra money to put toward savings goals or outstanding loans like mortgages or car loans!
And that's all there is to it folks! Just a few simple tasks incorporated into my routine keep me accountable for my spending and help me save as much as possible each month.
What other tricks, trackers and layouts do you have to help you create and maintain a budget?