Way back … as in 2001, I graduated from undergrad with a finance degree. A degree that I hardly use outside of my personal budget and bookkeeping from the photography business. I don’t consider myself an expert in the field of finance nor do I hold any sort of certifications, but after years of being asked for help with budgeting/saving/getting out of debt by friends and coworkers when they discover (or remember) my undergraduate major, I thought I’d finally start a blog series on the budgeting … especially if you’re like me: single, have financial goals, want to get the best for as little as possible, want to travel regularly, and not have a mountain of debt in the process. I also realize that many of you popping by here are in your 20s, so any lessons I’ve learned (hard & easy) I can pass on, I’m more than glad to share.
Today I’m discussing a few simple to start with basics for those new to budgeting … plus including a spreadsheet I’ve tweaked that you can download to help you see all of your income and bills in one place
1. At the end of the day/week/month, the key is to spend less than you take home.
Debt is no bueno. No bueno at all. Just because AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa gave you a really nice credit limit doesn’t mean you should see how close you can come to maxing it out.
Step 1: Make a list of all your sources of income (work, side hustles, blogging income (if any), interest on bank accounts)
Step 2: Make a list of all of your bills/necessary expenses: loan payments, credit card payments, utilities, insurance, groceries, vehicle and home related expenses (non-payment/insurance), taxes you have to pay out separately from what’s deducted from your check (property taxes + self employment), medical bills/meds you take regularly.
Step 3: See what (if anything) is left after all the necessary expenses are subtracted. Aim to save as much as that as possible, apply the rest to any debt payoff that’s hanging over your head.
2. Make a list and stick to it when shopping.
Yes, I know that there’s so much tempting you as you stroll the aisles of Target for a single item. Resist, ladies, resist. And grocery shop after eating a meal, not before. Less impulse food purchases, especially unhealthy ones!
3. Stick to using real money when shopping.
I assure you, its much more painful to hand over cash or even write a check than it is to swipe a credit or debit card. And speaking of debit cards, if you don’t have checks, that is, make sure to write it in your checkbook register/hang on to the receipts. Way back when I was a cashier in a grocery store, so many customers would tell me to toss the receipt on their debit card purchases. Then they’d wonder why on the next visit their card was rejected … this was in the days before online banking btw …
I have much more to share (i.e. half a page of topics when I brainstormed recently!) in future installments …
Now for the spreadsheet … I took a Microsoft Excel 2013 spreadsheet template that contained most of what my thrown together one has + added additional expenses some to all of us have that weren’t included … including blogging expenses. The one I made for myself a couple years ago is slightly different … I have mine split up by paydays and an extra column to note when I make payments on expenses. Feel free to tweak this one as you need to …
What’s hardest for you about budgeting? Sticking to a budget? Allocating enough for expenses that vary monthly (i.e. groceries, gasoline, electric/gas bills)? Something else?
Any particular budgeting topics you’d like to see for future posts? Leave suggestions in the comments or email me!