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The Household Balance Sheet

As a kid, I remember the old pepsident commercial (everybody sing) "I wonder where the yellow went when I brush my teeth with Pepsident." It seems that catchy tune of the era could be changed in part to "I wonder where the money went..." when we sit down to do our bills monthly. It seems a dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it used to, and making ends meet for many has become a full time job unto itself. Looking for sales, clipping coupons and trying to make the money last is necessary these days just to make it to the end of the month or pay period. Surprises tend to pop up on a regular basis, not figured into the monthly balance sheet. No balance sheet? If not, you are making things much harder than they have to be.

Unfortunately, bill paying is not regular, meaning that all bills are not due the same time or the same month during the year. Some payments like car or life insurance may be paid monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually. Deep down inside, we know they're coming, but in the fray of bill-paying and budgeting and the fast paced lifestyle most of us lead, many times they are forgotten until they come. Then it's a mad scramble to find the funds so as not to be late and incur additional charges or a mark on one's credit record. The pressure and the pain of paying bills are bad enough–why not make it a bit easier? It's time for a Household Balance Sheet. It can be done on a pad or excel spreadsheet: I prefer the latter as it is easier to add or delete entries. Using the tabs on the bottom of the Excel sheet page, you can construct 12 sheets for the 12 months for the year, or one sheet with 12 months- you decide. Look through your checkbook ledger for any recurrent payables, and log them in for each month. Then, do the same for any credit card payments that may get charged automatically. Now, you will have a full year's warning of any payables that are upcoming, including those "surprises" you may have known were coming but forgot, and you can plan accordingly. As they say, "knowledge is power." Anything you can do to make life a little easier, I say, go for it!

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