Thursday, March 1, 2018

Budget, budget, budget

Budget....budget...budget.  I don't think I can say this one enough.  One of the best ways to save money is to budget.  Set a budget and stick as close to it as you can each month.   But, how do you know what your budget should be?

When we decided I was going to stay home, we wanted to make sure we were going to be able to make it.  Nothing like deciding to stay at home and then after a while realizing you have nothing.  Mainly we needed to see where we spent our money and what if we needed to we could cut out.   I briefly talk about this in my intro to this blog, but I thought I'd go a little deeper and make a post about budgeting.

The budgeting challenge:

1. Write down every expense you make, from cash to credit, bills to groceries:

I mean EVERYTHING.  Spent a $ on a piece of candy, write it down.  Found a sweet flea market buy for 25 cents, WRITE. IT. DOWN.
Find a notebook or some scraps of paper and record for about 2-3 months if possible all the expenses that you make.

  ***The budget planner pictured above is from The Happy Planner, I got this as a present and LOVE it!***

2. Start looking at the needs and wants:

Start going through and highlighting all the wants.  Leave the needs alone, things like house insurance or mortgage, or tithes.  Anything though that's something you can live without doing or having, highlight.  Things like, eating out weekly or bi-weekly, cable, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HULU...these add up; especially if you have more than one!

3. Look at the highlighted areas and see where you can cut, or edit:

For example, we use our cell phones because we don't have a land line, but we looked around to see if we could find a cheaper version that still got us calls and texting.
Also we decided we could cut out Netflix and Amazon prime because we didn't use them that often to make it worth paying for them.  But rather, would just check out movies or TV shows at our local library instead.
There's always something that you can cut if you are really serious about saving money.  Let me say that again, There's ALWAYS something you CAN CUT, if you're REALLY SERIOUS about SAVING MONEY.  Those extras will always be there.  I think that's the important thing to remember, this savings is only for a season. While after you save the money you want or grow out of the season you need to be saving in you can always start to add those extras back in.  Although I'll be honest with you, after you've lived without them for a while you realize you don't miss them that much.  But to make you feel better, just remember it's a season of time.  And the more you are able to cut out, the faster you save and the quicker you can add those things back in if you want.

4.  You need to make sure that you are only spending what you're making:

Realize how much you make in a month and make sure you aren't spending over that.  If you are, you need to make some cuts.  This sounds so basic, but it can be difficult.  That's why it's important to write everything down for a few months so you can see if you are truly living in your means.  We didn't relize when I started staying at home that we weren't living in our means for awhile.  I mean we don't really spend a lot, but those Walmart runs started to add up and writing everything down really helped us see where we were literally just wasting money.

5. Make your budget:

Now that you have 2-3 months of your expenses written down and you've gone through to see if you're spending more that you make or realizing you're not saving as much as you'd like, now's the time to set a budget.  You can go about this different ways.  One way we do it that we found works best for us is to make funds in our savings.  This is just something that we have,  whereas the bank just has the final number.  Say we have 10,000 in our savings, maybe 2,000 of that is for insurance, and 300 is for Christmas, and so forth.  You just need to decide based on what you make in a month, how much you want to put in each fund and how to save that. 

This is just the start to your budget planning, but tracking what you spend and setting places for your money to go is very helpful!  Hope this helps you get started!