Friday, November 29, 2013

Money Matters #2: Budget

Happy Black Friday everyone! Did everyone stuff themselves with turkey and delicious foods yesterday? How many of you are planning to brave the crowds and do some shopping today? Our plan is that we will, but since I'm writing this post in advance, who knows what will actually happen :)

Thank you for stopping by for week 2 of my new series! (Week 2 was actually supposed to happen last week, but I was sick so that didn't happen) If you're just stopping by, the first post in the series can be found here. As I'm going on this journey of being more conscious about my money, I thought I'd document my journey and hopefully I can inspire others out in blogland :)

So a lot can be said about budgeting; so much so that maybe this will run into 2 weeks instead of one? Not sure yet- just figuring out posts as the words come to me. I first set up a budget just after we got married and joined our bank accounts together. This can be very overwhelming, so I'll break it down into steps on what I did.

1. First, I gathered information on where our money was going. I tracked different categories for about 6 months to a year prior and kept totals going. Categories such as gas, electric/utilities, groceries, clothing, insurances, eating out, entertainment, etc. Create categories that are useful to the life you're living. But make sure each dollar spent goes into a particular category. I am weird and like to write things down on paper, but many banks and credit card companies have a breakdown of spending in your account information online. Once you have all your numbers calculated, figure out an average for each category, or a goal you want to stick to spending each month.

2. Next, figure out how much income you get each month. If you are salaried and it's the same each paycheck, then you have it a little easier :) If you're like me and get paid hourly, sometimes your paychecks can vary each time. I go off of the minimum amount I could make each month as my basis for forming my budget. If I make more than the minimum, theoretically the extra could go into savings, although it doesn't always happen that way. 

3. Once you have your spending and income figured out, you want to make sure all your spending does not equal more than your income. Simple, right? :) If only life were simple. Start off with the necessities; things that need to be paid each month. After you see how much is left, figure out how to split that among the wants. Sure, it would be great to spend $400 a month on eating out and not worrying about cooking each night. But if you only have $400 left after all the needs, could you cut back a little to make it work in other areas? This is definitely a trial an error step. We are still figuring it out! If after a few months you find that your guestimations aren't working out, then revisit your budget and see how you can adjust your categories accordingly.  

4. Stick with it! I said before how I like writing things down better than having it digitally, so a couple times a week I gather all my receipts and enter them in my budget sheet. The biggest thing here is holding yourself accountable! If you spent it, write it down! That way you can visually see which areas you are doing well and which need work.

Here is an example of what my budget sheet looks like. You can easily add or delete the categories to fit your lifestyle. (Let me know if the link doesn't work- it's the first time I've tried uploading a document!)

Let me know your ideas! What does and doesn't work for you in budgeting? As always, if you like what you see please follow me in Bloglovin or GFC! 

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