In part one of creating your chart of payments, I stopped at the point where you’ve created your main sheet. Now we’re going to move forward with the rest of the process.

Click on the square between A and 1 once. That should highlight the entire page. Right click, and select copy. Then go to the bottom of your spreadsheet and click on the second tab, which should have the second date you typed in before. Once you’re there, go up to that same box between A and 1, right click, and select Paste. You should have copied your entire sheet from the first worksheet onto this one. Now you’re going to change some information around.

This is what to do first; it may seem complicated, but it’s really not. Go to cell E2, which should have a formula in it. Type the plus sign, then go to the bottom and click on the first sheet’s tab. Once you’ve done that, click in box E25, or whichever the last box on that sheet happens to be. Then type in how much you got paid today and hit enter. What that does is brings over the dollar amount you had left from the last two weeks, and adds to it what you just got paid. Hopefully you haven’t added anything new to your original spreadsheet, but if you did, you’ll be carrying the balance over anyway.

Then, in column D, bring over the bills due this pay period, replace the ones that don’t have to be paid with a 0, and leave those bills that are weekly where they are. The reason you type in 0 and not just erase the totals is that you will mess up your formula if there’s nothing in the box. Well, you could go to each box, right click, and select Clear Contents, but putting in a 0 is so much easier.

Once you’ve done that, your sheet should look like this:

Now, before we go much further, we have to look at some things about this particular budget. You’ll want to see my first sheet also. On the first sheet, I started with this person having $650 in the checking account, and a bring home amount of $850 for a two week period. On the second sheet, you see that we would have brought over that bottom figure, which was $825, to the new sheet, and added another $850. However, the overall expenses this pay period are much higher, and suddenly, we can see this person will be in major trouble pretty quickly. The problem is that the total amount of money this person brings home every two weeks is $1,700, but the expenses are $2,115. That’s a difference of $415 a month; ouch! We need to rectify this before we can go further, because the budget the way it is isn’t sustainable for any real period of time. But I chose these numbers because this person would have thought they were within the $400, and they’re not, but just barely.

We have to start with the personal items. Gas probably is what it is, so that one we’re stuck with. That is, unless this person can start car pooling or taking the bus some times. For now, we’ll leave it alone.

Groceries are next. When most people buy groceries, they tend to pick up a lot of stuff they don’t actually need, but want. In budgeting, if you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it. When I was doing my budget back in the early 90’s, the one thing I wouldn’t remove from my budget was my soda. So, I kept that in, but eliminated other things to keep my weekly budget down. If everything in this person’s grocery budget is definitely needed, then it all stays. However, this person should be honest with themselves to see if there’s something that can be eliminated.

This leaves the “me” money. Sorry, but “me” money just might have to go. For this person, “me” money equals the deficit per month, so just eliminating that brings this person into full balance. It’s not the most fun way to live, but it is what it is. This is the case for working a part time job and bringing in some extra money. In this person’s case, they make enough to stay even, but not enough to be able to do anything else, or plan for any emergencies.

Of course, we can look at some of the other bills also. In this case, there are only two bills that can be adjusted. One is the cable bill; sorry, but you might have to get rid of HBO and hi-def to bring that monthly bill down for awhile. And lawn care; you might have to ask your person to cut your lawn every two weeks instead of weekly, or it might be time to buy a lawn mower and do it yourself. Making just those two moves could save upwards of $100 a month; for this person, without a part time job, that’s critical. And this person doesn’t even have a cell phone; whew!

Say we were able to make some minor adjustments to these funds. Here’s some new figures for these two pay periods:

First pay period

Second pay period

This person made some immediately hard choices, but the effect is that now the deficit between bring home pay and outgoing bills is only $25 a month. That’s not bad, and it came with some really hard decisions. Can this person live with this budget? We’re not sure, but at least this person now have a major change as some peace of mind.

And, oddly enough, though it looks like this person is on his or her way to losing $300 this year, this person is actually on his or her way to coming out ahead $1,400 or so. How? We’ll pick that up in part three of charting payments, because, after all, this is a living document. Stay tuned.