NOTE: I am NOT a financial advisor, this is just info from personal experience, don’t try to sue me. Thanks!
I’m really surprised at how many emails I’m receiving with money questions after posting about operation penny pinch, and asking for financial advice! I didn’t expect to be posting more on money, but it is an important part of all of our lives, and a big part of mine especially this year so I guess it makes sense to share what lil bit I know. I’ll do it in parts. Today’s will be about budgeting.
1. Make budgeting a priority – it’s really the best way to ensure you are spending less than you’re earning
2. Create an annual budget and then break it down monthly. – this works better than going month by month because you’ll include things like auto insurance and Xmas gifts that don’t come around each month and can save accordingly
3. Automate what you can – easy button. pay those bills automatically, move money to your savings automatically. If it’s easy/done for you, you’re more likely to do it.
4. Track everything – seriously, track EVERY penny, and check your accounts for accuracy online as well.
5. Don’t give up – in the beginning it can be annoying to go through and see where your money’s going and how you want to fix it, but it’s totally worth it once you see your debt getting smaller and your savings growing bigger!
How I Budget
I get paid on the 15th and 30th. of each month. A certain % of each check gets pulled out pre-tax for my 401K to obtain the full $17k match from my employer. The balance goes to my main bank (TD Bank, love them)
My take home income gets divvied up into these parts (in no order):
- Geico (car/rental insurance)
- Con Edison (gas/electric)
- Virgin Mobile (mobile phone)
- Food (groceries/eating out w/ John)
- Time Warner (internet)
- Down Payment Savings
- Emergency Savings (no longer contributing, fully funded, 8 months worth)
- Gifts (Xmas/Bday savings)
- RTH Account (FYI Those are Embry’s initials, that’s his saving fund)
- Personal Savings (toiletries and random house stuff gets paid from this acct)
- 529/IRA (I haven’t yet started Embry’s 529, and I haven’t put my 2011 IRA money to the account yet so it just sits in the bank until I stop being a lazy mofo)
- Travel Savings
- Fun Money!! (anything goes, guilt free spending, YAY!)
*Public transpo is paid for by my job, as is food during the weekdays, gas is paid for by John since I don’t drive the car, also we split the bills 50/50 except my phone I pay for and house phone he pays for.
So yeah, majority of my income goes to savings for different goals, but I treat them as if they’re bills. Some gets automatically transferred on pay days from my main bank to my online bank account where I earn better interest, and some I physically move (online) from my bank to online bank to “trick” myself into feeling like I just paid a bill. For ME, that’s the only way to ensure the money will go where it needs to…. instead of to Target or Amazon lol.
Where to budget:
I keep my budget on a spreadsheet, I used to use excel, but now use google docs so I can access my budget anywhere. I have sheets for each month, a net worth sheet, and a projected savings sheet to keep tabs on my down payment savings goal.
I used to use Mint, but had issues with it updating from my bank accounts in a timely manner….I check my accounts often.
However, I started out with good old pencil and paper, and maintained my budget this way for a long while.So please don’t feel like you need any gadgets, software, or anything to get started with a budget.
How you can start your budget:
- choose a time when you’re relaxed and have energy to spend on this
- get your old statements together along with bills and paper/pen (or excel or whatever)
- put down every single thing you spend money on throughout the year
- put down every single penny you earn throughout the year (hopefully it’s more than what you spend)
- break down your annual spending by month
- Plan to include savings and debt repayment in each month (per paycheck)
- put your budget somewhere you will see it and remember to follow it
Am I making sense?
Resources for ya:
- YNAB – You Need A Budget – by Jesse Mecham
- The Budget Kit – by Judy Lawrence
- Winning w/ Money – The Budget Tool for People Who Hate Budgets (That sounds promising!)
OK, I hope this was helpful, and if it was unclear, I’m sorry, and feel free to ask for clarification in comments or via okaydani @ gmail . com