Many times when we hear the word budget, we think limitations and lack of freedom. There goes my lifestyle. But I’ve found it to be the opposite. I found that having a budget has given me freedom. It’s allowed me to splurge, save and not stress so much.
Where to start?
First things first, do you have a budget? If not… that’s where we need to start, we need to create one. If you are fortunate enough to have taken this step in creating a budget, then you’re one step ahead but not off the hook. We’re going to make some adjustments to your already existing document so be sure to have it out and handy.
With this process it’s important to keep in mind that not all budgets are created equally since we all have different expenses, wants and needs. It’s also important to keep an open mind. Don’t stress yourself out when you realize you dine out often and don’t beat yourself up when you see how much your phone bill is.
When working with your budget it’s important to be honest with yourself and write down all of your expenses, ladies that means your nail appointments and gentlemen that means hobbies too. If you are honest, there are no surprises at the end of the month when it comes to your money. By being honest with yourself, you are creating a budget that works for you. If you leave out expenses, you’re cheating yourself.
First and foremost, gather all of your receipts from the month prior. Ladies that means trips to the nail salon and gentlemen that means any movie, video game or music you purchased. And, if you don’t have the receipts pull up your credit card and debit card statements. Oh and grab a highlighter you’re going to need it.
Next, categorize all of your purchases and expenses. Below is an example of a budget worksheet that could help you see examples of common categories.
Next, write in all of your monthly expenses under actual amount. This will allow you to see firsthand how much you are spending on your bills, food, shopping and all your other expenses. Warning, this may be an eye opener. Now, take your income and subtract your expenses. Are you overspending, under spending or just making ends meet? This is a good opportunity to take time and identify areas where you can cut back and make changes.
You’ve now created a budget! Way to go! Now here comes what I think is the hard part… sticking to it! I’ve found the best way for me to keep from going over my budget is it to keep away from the mall and by shopping smart with discounts and deals that I find around town. Believe me, having a budget doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you enjoy. It just means you have to find different ways.
It’s okay to love your budget. I do!