Setting Up September

Setting Up September

I don’t do much in the form of collections and spreads in my bullet journal. I know lots of people have spreads for books they’ve read, books they want to read, TV shows they are watching, trackers for their pets, trackers for their significant others, trackers to remind them to track things in their trackers…… You get the point. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, I just don’t have time to keep up with all of that in an analog form when all of it is already tracked in digital form somewhere (thanks, Goodreads and Netflix!).

There are, however, three spreads that have been a staple in my bullet journal since the very first month I started bullet journaling: an expense and spending tracker, a habit tracker, and a gratitude log. All of these have become absolutely essential, and updating them is an integral part of my daily planning routine. Here’s how I set them up:

First up is always the expense and spending tracker. I know that my bank account obviously tracks this stuff as well, but I find I’m much more accountable to where and how and when I’m spending my money if I have to write it down and color code it each day. To set up this spread, I just used a single Zebra Mildliner and a single black Staedtler Triplus Fineliner, although really any single pen would do. In the past I’ve used just the fineliner for the whole thing.

This is a two-page spread at its completion. On the left page, I have columns for deposits, transfers, and bills. On the right page are two columns for tracking purchases/debits from my account. I track deposit amounts and dates, and write down my bills, the date they are scheduled to be paid, and the amount they are scheduled for. Once the funds have cleared my account, I go back and highlight the line with a Mildliner, so I can keep a running account of my balance and what’s still left to clear out of the account. On the purchases side, I log every debit from my account and color-code the purchases with Mildliners. My spending categories are:

  • Household/pets (pet supplies, anything purchased for home maintenance)
  • Groceries (weekly trips to the grocery store)
  • Food/alcohol (outside of groceries – things like eating out, picking up snacks at the gas station, running by the liquor store on my way home, etc.)
  • Medical/personal (doctor’s copays, medical bills outside of my normal expenses, anything we purchase for personal or physical advancement, etc., clothes/shoes)
  • Miscellaneous/hobbies (bullet journal purchases, books, anything that doesn’t fit into one of the above categories)

Tracking my bills and expenses keeps me honest, on time, and accountable to my bank account. It requires me to review the bank account every day, that way I always know how much money we have and what is still pending.

Next up: the habit tracker. Now, I don’t know many people who keep a bullet journal and don’t also keep a habit tracker. It’s such a fantastic tool to have to hold myself accountable to my personal health-and-well-being goals, like making sure I’m drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, staying on a consistent sleep cycle, etc. I also have an autoimmune disease, so I use my habit tracker to keep up with any symptoms I may be having that would signal whether I’m in a flare or whether I need to change something in my diet/may have eaten something I shouldn’t have. My habit tracker layout is about as simple as it gets. It’s just a series of straight lines with a Mildliner label and a column of dates and days down the far side of the page. At the top is where I’ll write in the habits and symptoms I want to track, but I won’t do that till later in the month. I usually track about the same thing each month, with some minor variations depending on my goals for the month. This has been an especially useful tool in my bullet journal arsenal, and if you haven’t tried a habit tracker, you should give it a shot in September!

Last, but certainly not least, is the gratitude log. There are tons of articles touting the benefits of living a grateful life, not the least of which being it makes you a generally happier and healthier person! So, each day for the past year I’ve written down a single line detailing something I’m grateful for from that day. Some days have been bad, and it’s been hard to find something to be grateful for, but if you look hard enough it’s always there, even if it’s just as simple as the sun shining, having a soft bed to go to sleep early in, or having your dog greet you at the door when you come home from an exceptionally shitty day at work. I can’t recommend a gratitude log enough, and it is literally the simplest layout I have. Write your numbers down the side of the page, write gratitude across the top, and you’re done!

Have you tried any of these spreads? What are the staples in your bullet journal monthly spread collection? Let me know what you think in the comments! 

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