Not everyone knows how to budget. Whether this is your first budget or your finances are a mess and you have to figure out budgeting, here are the basics for how to create a budget you can live with.
In college, I never had to worry about a budget. I pretty much saved every penny I made from the job at the school, minus the gifts I would buy for people, stationery, and stickers. Budgets were something I had heard about, but they were things that no one was ever able to keep up with. They were something negative that caused stress, or so I thought.
Fast-forward to our first year of marriage, and second, and third. We tried making a budget, but we always spent more than we made. It was usually because we blew the budget eating out. Our schedules were complete opposites and we were so exhausted from working and going to graduate school, we would grab dinner on the way home from work or class. It was a horrible habit to begin, and a determent to our financial future.
Basics for How to Create a Budget You Can Live With
If I were to sit down over coffee with my twenty-something-year-old self, these are the points I would drive home about creating a budget. Budgets are not a life sentence. In fact, they can lead to financial freedom. Here’s what you need to remember.
1. Know how much money you’re bringing in
A budget comes down to how much money is coming in and going out. The very basic part of starting a budget is knowing how much money you’re bringing in. Write this down and keep track of it because it will be what helps you stay on budget every week.
2. Look at how much is going out
Another basic for getting started with a budget is to know how much is going out. This means you need to track your spending for a few days. A week is a good amount to track your spending and know how much money is going out.
3. Get your envelopes ready
Most experts in the budgeting field will tell you to get rid of the credit cards and only use cash. Not only should you use cash, but you should put your cash in envelopes to help you stay on track budget wise. When the money is spent from your envelope, it’s gone and you can’t just magically grow more.
4. It may take a few months to get it right
The thing about budgeting is that it may take you some time to get it right. If you mess it up the first couple of months, don’t give up. Budgeting is nice because it helps you tell your money where to go. Everything you need to buy is accounted for.
5. Every budget looks different
You will quickly realize, as you create your budget, that every budget looks different. What you budget for will look way different than what your family and friends are budgeting for. Your budget may even look different based on the month. Don’t lose heart because budgets are meant to be interchangeable and not stressful.
6. Communication with your spouse is key
The key to making any budget work is communicating with your spouse. Trying to budget while they are off spending money, just won’t work. Remember to sit down and create a budget with your spouse. Do not be afraid to show them the numbers. When they realize, what income is coming in and what is going out, they may be more likely to get on board. Don’t forget date night.
Do you have any tips for getting started with a budget? I’d love to hear your tips!