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Alright, I did it. I mentioned that awful word. The dreaded “b” word. I mean, no one actually likes it. That’s right. Who likes a budget? It just seems so, so….constraining. Don’t we all just want to spend ALL the money on ALL the pretty little things? Boy, it’s so easy to do! And that is the very reason WHY a budget is so important.
With consumer marketing everywhere you turn, it’s so easy to think that we NEED all the latest & greatest gadgets, clothes, toys, etc. If you even ordered online ONCE from a store, next thing you know you’re getting 20 emails a day on that next sale you just CAN’T miss out on. I’m a sale shopper & refuse to buy anything unless it’s on sale, but those sales happen ALL the time. It’ll be there again. I promise.
Recently, we had been working overtime on a real estate project. Correction: Brent had been working overtime on a real estate project but I was in charge of the budget. I also got a little carried away with buying all the fancy things during Nordstrom’s end of season sales. I stocked up on so many pretty sweaters and boots. Thankfully, this Ohio winter is lasting straight through spring, but my wallet is feeling a bit easy, breezy. I knew we needed to make some changes..
Next, comes in my accounting brain. I was an accounting major in college so budgeting tends to come naturally to me, sorta. I love working with numbers, putting them into their little squares, and calculating our incomes vs. expenses every month (hello, crazy analytical brain). That’s a wild Friday night for me. But we just weren’t doing it. So when you have more month left at the end of the pay check, all those sweaters, boots, dry wall, paint & light fixtures aren’t so exciting anymore.
3 Steps to a Better Budget:
- Determine your WHY. So why do you need a budget? Well, to put it bluntly, it sucks living pay check to pay check. Talk about stressed out all the time. To gain more control over your finances & breath a little easier, a budget is so important. Want to go on that family vacation cruise? How about a new car? Want to be able to stay home once baby is born? By creating a written budget, your money will have a purpose. Each dollar has a specific duty. Writing down that specific duty clearly identifies your goals with your money. Tip: After determining your why, put it on a big poster board with how much you need to save, how long it will take, and why you want to do it. Creating a visual reminder will help keep you motivated to achieving your WHY.
- Write down all your monthly income & expenditures. What purpose is a budget if we don’t know what’s on it? Pull out the last 3 months bills & divide them up into categories: Savings, Utilities, Food, Insurance, Debt, etc. Always pay yourself first. However, if you’re working on paying off debt, there shouldn’t be anything going into savings unless it’s to create a $1000 emergency fund. Determine all your monthly expenditures, establish a reasonable grocery budget, and compare it to your average monthly income. Let’s just say, at this point, you’ll probably need to make some adjustments. It won’t be perfect the first few times, but make sure you’re budgeting every. single. dollar. With a budget, it helps you find “hidden” money. You know, the money you didn’t know you actually had because it shouldn’t cost $500/month for groceries when you’re single! Tip: Check out my budgeting printable to help get you started.
- Plan your dreams. Once you’ve successfully established a budget, what do you do with all the extra money? This is the best part. In step 2, we established all our recurring monthly expenditures, but what do we do with the extra leftover? This money needs a purpose too. The extra goodies is where we start planning that family vacation or cruise, buying a new car, saving up to upgrade your house, etc. Want to make a job change? Go back to school? The extra saved money, even if just a few dollars, really adds up over time.
Once you’ve established a written budget, your future dreams & plans become more of a priority. We have a lot of future goals both tangible & intangible. What’re some ways you stick to your budget?
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