This is always a fun topic to talk about. Creating a budget is one of those things you need to do, but not a lot of people even know where to start. I know I didn’t. I started at a spreadsheet trying to come up with the perfect format to match my life, but updating it every day became tedious. Especially when I was on the go.
I finally found something that works.
What I’ve learned is the key to budgeting is making it work for YOU. Yes, you can find templates or follow other outlines that people provide. But, it’s more effective when you understand what your needs are and what your goal is for budgeting.
Are you looking to cut down on spending in specific areas?
Do you want to see where all your money is going every month or paycheck?
We all have different financial needs and goals. Your budget should match that.
Why You Need a Budget?
A budget has been the most helpful tool and habit I could develop. I am a typical millennial in my 20s and I noticed it was easy for me to spend and then look at my bank account and wonder where my money was going.
A budget answered that. And, I was able to plan my spending – you know spend wisely.
If your goal is to travel, you should be setting money aside to pay for plane tickets and hotels. But how will you know how much money you can set aside for a travel fund without neglecting your bills and responsibilities? You know the answer. A budget.
How to Start a Budget?
Budgets are for everyone. Doesn’t matter if you are salaried, hourly, or have an irregular income. You can create a budget that will work for you. If you have a pretty regular income, start there.
Then list ALL of your expenses. (This may looking at a few bank statements to remember everything). You want a full list view of everything you’re spending money on. Once you have a list of all the items, it may be useful to organize each expense into a category (like savings, housing, debt, car, etc.).
Your Budget Needs to Be a Daily Habit
This was the hard part until I found a really easy way to do this (I’ll explain later). A budget isn’t simply outlining how you will spend your money in a certain time period. A GOOD budget also tracks how you are spending your money as you are spending it in that time period. Then you can compare and realize where you may be spending more than you allowed for (*cough cough Uber Eats*).
The other benefit to updating or even looking at your budget every day is a friendly reminder to develop better money management habits. If you see better, you can do better.
My Favorite Budget App
I found a really cool app that really helped my budgeting needs. It’s available online and has a mobile app that syncs. So you can update in real-time. Literally, as soon as you swipe your card, you can enter the transaction into the category in falls into and it automatically updates how much money you have remaining for each category and for the total month. (They also offer a paid version that can automatically pull your information from your bank or credit card companies. But I like free better :).) The app is called EveryDollar. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up, sign up, and be prepared to change your financial life.
The Benefits of a Budget
Since I’ve started budgeting, I’ve been able to plan better financially and still enjoy things in life guilt-free. Budgeting has “freed” my money and makes it work harder for me. Every dollar has a purpose and is used accordingly. I’m always looking for ways to cut down in certain areas whenever I can.
A great budget is reasonable and works for you. It puts your money to work while allowing you to see where your money is going and why. Think of it as a more purposeful spending habit. Plus, it will allow you to splurge every now and then without regretting it.
Have you started your budget yet?