By Erica Rodgers
Not too many people enjoy making a budget and sticking to it. It usually is quite a challenge, and sometimes even a despised one. We all wish we could be as thrifty as the Ingalls family in Little House on the Prairie: Canning all the crops and eating everything around their homemade table in their self built house while drinking fresh brewed coffee (instead of Starbucks). Or what about the “Envelope System”. At one point in our desire for more money in savings, we may have thought about or even tried this system with all the cash and envelopes and organization. The options really are endless when making a personal or family budget, but if this budget is to stick, it should be realistic and personalized. Here are some options on how to find your budget, then how to cement it into everyday life.
Sit down and write it all out. You think you can get away from the task of grabbing a chair, taking a load off and writing everything that you spend your money on monthly, quarterly and yearly? No, there is no getting out of it. If you don’t know what you are spending your money on how will you make a budget? Plus, if you do not chronicle your monetary transactions correctly you will be setting yourself up for discouragement and disappointment when it is time to start sticking to the “faux” budget.
Here is an expense list to START yourself on. This list is not exhaustive, so start with the basics and put your thinking cap on. Don’t forget to add in the monthly book club you attend that you always bring a bag of donuts to. Or monthly subscription apps that you can’t live without (seriously, no judgement, I love my photo editing app). Every penny counts. Just write it all down. Also, try not to just say “Fun=$50”. Be more specific. Most of us have high hopes for making dinner 5 times a week with 2 nights of leftovers, is that everyone’s reality? No, so make a “Grocery Store” and a “Dining Out” row. If this isn’t an indicator of how specific you need to be, I don’t know what it. Now, take a breath and then think about where all your gold goes one more time. It is so important to scrutinize your spending so you can be successful in making a budget and sticking to it.
City pool membership
Vehicle tabs, etc.
Write down all the things you WANT to put in your budget. For instance, do you want to paint more? Then that means you need to purchase canvases on a regular basis. Put that right there in your expense list. Are you thinking of starting a side job of refinishing furniture? Better add a bit extra to your list so that you can realistically see how much you can spend on this new endeavor. Think good and hard about WHY you want to create a budget.
Put your eyeballs back in your socket. Most of us don’t do as detailed a list as I am encouraging right now. But most of us are in debt up to said eyeballs. It is a shock to see what we spend our money on versus what we think we spend our money on. Or maybe you have found that you are spending much less and can enjoy some new adventures or new clothes. Either way, this is your reality. Soak it in because unless you win the lotto tomorrow, nothing is changing.
Take that detailed list and make it into your new budget. Take a look at each line item on your expense list and see what could be reduced. If you don’t know, don’t just assume it can’t be reduced, ASK. It may take time to call a company or to research in your online account to see if there are other price availabilities, but is your dream to have a budget that makes your aspirations a reality worth it? I think taking a few extra minutes to check to see if there is a reduced plan option is totally worth it. Be sure to have a calculator, an eraser and Microsoft Excel handy. If you have found that you are spending far too much on Jack in the Box, coffee, online shopping, online games, wine or anything else that could be considered an “extra” in your healthy, non-dependant mind, then you have got to pair your expense list down. For example, decide to make larger meals and have leftovers for more nights a week, buy healthy and less expensive snack food (tomatoes, bananas, fresh peas, etc), cancel your 3rd photo editor app, cancel your 2nd photo editor app, reduce your phone plan and make sure you use businesses wifi to only use the data at the reduced plan. Reduce what you don’t use. Let me say that again, reduce what you don’t use.
Take another look at your expense list. Like how I am suggesting reviewing your list? Probably not, but this is the key to sticking to your budget. If you don’t review your money transactions on a regular basis and alternating it to determine the reality of it all the time, then you will not succeed. Oftentimes, a deal will pop up in your email for a less expensive offer, so you have to update your expense list, or on the other hand, you realized that you forgot you always go to dinner with your cousin once a month and now need to add $50 to the “Dining Out” category. As long as you are in constant reviewal, maybe even put a reminder on your calendar to peek in at your expense list, then you will be aware and consciously thinking about how your money can benefit you. Because it can.
Love money. Love money because I know you want to buy those comfy shoes that your feet need so badly due to the fact you stand all day at work. Love money because it makes you feel good to donate to your favorite charity. Love money because to you it may be important to buy all the ingredients of a fancy family meal. Love money because it is a resource of our world that, yes, can be used for bad, but can also be used for good. If you love money, money will come to you. If you hate money, then it will hate you too. Enjoy the resources of the world.
I have been loving money from the young age of 9 while shopping through the Avon catalog or browsing the aisles of Barnes and Noble. If you have a strained relationship with money, think back to how much you adored money when you were a kid. The excitement and fantastical thoughts of what $20 can do is the positive love that will bring in more.
I also suggest these two books for you to read or listen to:
Join Declutter & Organize With Seattle Sparkle, our Facebook Group, and tell us what you want to spend $20 on.
Digital Organizer, Virtual Assistant and Motivational Coach
Image Credit: Josh Appel