Family,  Lifestyle

Basics For Starting A Budget

I have to start off with a disclaimer, I’m definitely not an expert in finance but these are the things that I have done and that has worked for me personally. Everyone has a different financial situation so therefore everyone’s budget is going to look different. Try and figure out what works for you and leave the rest behind. Ultimately, the way that I learned how to budget was through trial and error. Kendall and I sat down a few times when we first got married and we tried to create a budget. Well, let’s just say we didn’t stick to it! haha. We finally sat down towards the end of last year and figured out a more detailed plan and so far it’s working great! Below I’m sharing a few tips on how to create a budget geared towards your lifestyle.

1) Figure out your why

If you have your why figured out, you’ll more than likely be able to stick to your budget.

Do you want to pay off debt?
Save money?
Travel more?
Stop living paycheck to paycheck?

Whatever it may be, write it down and be specific.

2) Take inventory on your spending and income

It may not be fun but it is necessary for being able to see how much you have coming in and what’s been going out. Even if you don‘t have consistent paychecks, try and figure out an estimate of what you will be making each month.

Taking inventory also helps to see where you have been overspending. like I said, it’s not fun but it helps get you on the right track so that you can reach your goals!

3) Categorize your expenses and debt

Break your monthly expenses and debt into different categories.

Here are my categories:

  • Tithe
  • Missions
  • Savings (house, personal, rental)
  • Student loans (debt)
  • Down payment loan (debt)
  • A/C and furnace loan (debt)
  • Essential bills  (Water, garbage, electric, mortgage, insurance, etc.)
  • Grocery (I put gas money, house supplies and groceries all into one category)
  • Date night
  • Dog care
  • Personal money
  • Travel
  • Christmas
  • Haircuts
  • Car maintenance
  • House maintenance

Breaking it down into different categories helps make it more manageable. I’m a visual person, so seeing what I want to save for, what debt I have and what my reoccurring monthly bills are, helps a TON. It also helps me feel more organized and less scattered brained, so that’s a plus! haha.

4) Figure out how much you want to put in each category

I always start with my tithe, savings, essential bills, and debt and then I decide what to put in the other categories based on how much money I have left over. I now have a pretty consistent amount for each category since I’ve been doing this for a few months, but at the beginning I had to move money around until I figured out what was realistic to put in each category.

As far as debt categories go, Kendall and I listed our debts from smallest to largest and we have been paying the biggest amount on the smallest debt first. We took this snowball method from Dave Ramsey. I really like it because you begin to see progress and then it makes it that much easier to want to keep going!

5) Figure out a method for keeping your categories separate

Kendall and I separate our money two different ways:

  1. We have several different bank accounts. We have two for savings, a checking, a business (photography), one for travel and one for our rental. It makes it much so much easier to separate our money once we get paid because all we have to do is transfer money from our checking into the other accounts.
  2. We use envelopes for everything else. I like using envelopes for grocery money, haircuts, car maintenance, date nights, dog care and Christmas. I just pull out cash from our checking and then I separate them into each envelope. It’s nice to have the money on hand for when we need it!

6) Automate your bills

This one may not necessarily go along with budgeting but it’s honestly the best thing ever! Kendall and I use the prism app to automate our bills. It’s nice because you enter your biller information into the app and it shows you the amount and date that it’s due. When it’s due all you have to do is swipe down and it will be paid! It’s seriously a lifesaver.

7) Check-in weekly or monthly

I prefer to do a quick check-in every other week to see if my bills have gone through, if I need to adjust my budget or if I’m hitting my goals. It helps me stay accountable so I don’t fall away from budgeting and it also helps me see the progress that I’m making!

8) Learn to celebrate along the way

I think this last point is really important. Sometimes It’s easy to get so focused on the goal that we forget to celebrate along the way. Make sure to celebrate when you pay off a debt or save a certain amount! Even if it’s something as simple as getting a coffee from your favorite place or going out to dinner with a friend. Celebrating in even the smallest ways can help build the confidence you need to keep going!

Okay, that’s it for today. I hope this was helpful in some way!

I want to know, do you have any budgeting tips? Leave them in the comments below to help others out.

As always, thanks for reading! 🙂