Abby at I Pick Up Pennies recently made her first b-word. No, not that word! A budget. Well, maybe it is the same b-word. It truly is the “four-letter word” of personal finance, something everyone knows that they need to have, but no one wants to do.

First of all, I don’t have a budget; I have a monthly spending plan. Actually, I have three. I know, I know, it sounds like it’s just a fancy term for the b-word, but psychologically I think it makes a difference. Budget sounds stubborn and unappealing; monthly spending plan appeals to my goal-oriented nature, and allows for my failings.

Yes, I did say I have three. Three MSPs. No, I’m not crazy and yes, I do have an unhealthy addiction to spreadsheets.

My first MSP is essentially a standard monthly b-word. It contains all of our necessary monthly expenses, a monthly breakdown of our annual expenses, and calculates our necessary annual income.

My second MSP is an emergency b-word. This is important because it’s what I use to base our emergency fund on. While many experts claim you need X times your monthly income saved, I say “Phooey, I’m paying down debt! I need X times my monthly emergency expenses saved.” My emergency budget is my minimum credit card payments, food budget with zero dining out, putting student loans into hardship deferment, etc. It is a worst case poopstorm. At this point we have two months poopstorm savings, which I’m happy with.

My third MSP is a goal b-word. This is the day I hope to see, where we only need $15,000 in yearly income to live. Having this MSP allows me to keep this future clearly in mind. It is possible by clearing just a few spreadsheet rows.

Over the next few days I will try to figure out how to use Google Docs and post (hopefully downloadable) sample MSPs. The MSPs are copyright free so use them and abuse them, and be b-word free.