Dear Dave: A friend of mine loaned me some of your books and even took me to one of your live events. Since then, I've been trying to work the Baby Steps, including building my emergency fund and creating a monthly budget. However, I'm having trouble transitioning to living on a budget. I get paid in the middle and end of each month, but my bills are due at different times. Can you help?
In your situation, I recommend using a two-column approach when you sit down each month to create your written budget. In it, one column would represent the first of the month, while the other represents the fifteenth. Place the income you'll receive for each pay period at the top of each column, then work your way down spending every dollar on paper for that pay period, until all the money is gone.
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If your cable bill is due on the tenth, then it would go under the first column. If your electric bill is due on the twenty-first, it would go in the second column. Once you've got this in place you can adjust the categories where you might have a little more flexibility. A good example of this might be clothing. You can budget for any new clothes you need in the pay period that has the fewest bills.
When you do this, you're not just spending every dollar on paper before the month begins. You're also spending every dollar on paper before the pay period arrives!