I am a big time spender. I love to go shopping and just live life. One of my biggest struggles as an adult has been to learn how to budget my money.
Check out my previous post on how to shop on a budget.
I have learned how to manage my money the right and easy way. I am going to share my tips and my struggles when it comes to budgeting. I hope that you are able to implement some of these tips to your budgeting. They are very simple and easy steps that anyone can follow.
1.Start by looking back at your most recent purchases.
When I started budgeting (and even now), I went back two months and took a good look at all my transactions. I made a list of everything and everywhere my money was spent. You will be surprised as to all the unnecessary transactions you make. I noticed that most of my money was going towards food or shopping and I was digging into my savings to cover for those unnecessary expenses.
This will help you see your expenses better.
2. List your expenses
After going through all my expenses from the previous months, I made a list of everything. I put them into categories such as food, bills, gas, savings, etc. I started eliminating all the unnecessary expenses. Such as my Ipsy bag, my Sephora box, Hulu (I kept Netflix). Even though they were small expenses, all together they made a significant impact each month without me realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to take a look at the previous months and add all the expenses and the damage they are actually making.
This gave me the big picture of what were the expenses I had to keep and how much of my money was used on those expenses and I could see how much I had left.
3. Name your money
I learned this one from Dave Ramsey (He is great, but I only agree with some of his suggestions when it comes to budgeting, he can be a little extreme). He says that you have to give every dollar a name. Know exactly where that dollar is going to end up.
To be honest, this is the best thing I have ever done. After step one and two, I then downloaded an app called Balance check. It’s so simple to use and you will keep track of every dollar. You input your income, and then add all your expenses and start checking them off as they’re paid. You can add a list of other things such as entertainment and shopping. With what I had left after paying all my fixed expenses, I added lines for entertainment, shopping, and savings. For example, I would limit myself to only $100 of shopping a month. I would then start subtracting all my shopping on the app and eventually know when I would run out of the $100. Knowing that I no longer had money to shop and I had to wait till the next month.
Find an app that works best for you. You can even use the Notes App and list all your monthly expenses on there. Make sure that you know where all your money is going.
At the end of the month, if you have some left over money, throw it in your savings.
4. Eliminate your credit cards
At the beginning of your budgeting cycle, you will not have money for the fun stuff such as shopping and a lot of entertainment. I say a lot because you shouldn’t live a miserable life. You should still be able to enjoy your life. But the main thing to do is to get rid of those credit cards. If you’re only sending the minimum amount every month, you’ll spend years trying to pay it off.
What you have to do is maybe put less into your savings and more into your credit card payment. What’s the point of having savings if you owe money? You basically don’t have money if that’s the case. Pay off those credit cards, that should be the main focus at this moment.
If there is something you really want and you cant buy it right at the moment because you don’t have the money, DONT use your credit card. Save up for it. Every pay check add $20, $40, $50, what ever you can to a fund you start on your own specifically for that item. Yes, it will take you a while to get there, but you will not be paying interest on it.
But don’t start a “fun Fund” as I like to call it, until you have a $0 balance on your credit cards. Also, always start off by paying the credit card with the smaller balance on it. Keep sending minimum amount to the other credit cards, and a larger amount to the Smaller amount credit card. You will start paying them off and this will motivate you to continue on to the next one. ( I really hope that you don’t have more than two credit cards, but if you do, it’s okay. I know you can do it).
Tip: Don’t carry your credit cards with you if you know you don’t have self control.
5. Keep track
Always keep track. Check your bank account daily. Just to make sure you’re on track. If you mess up one month, it’s okay. You can always start the next month.
Budgeting is not easy at all. It will take some time and a lot of discipline. Trust me, it has taken me months to finally be on track and sometimes I still get out of my lane. But I just start over and work on it again.
Little secret: If you get a raise… Pretend like you didn’t. Keep budgeting as if you are still on the previous wage. That way you can start adding that money into your savings. You will be surprised as too how much money you can actually save up.