A How-to Guide to Building a Budget
If you are ready to tackle your finances, getting on a budget is key. If you are a beginner, and looking for help, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we are going to teach you how to make a budget.
What Does the Life you are Dreaming About Look Like?
If you are anything like me, you are constantly picturing the life of your dreams. You know, the one you wish you were actually living. In the days of social media, how you can you not, right? Maybe you picture yourself on adventures, traveling to amazing places. Maybe you dream of starting your own company and having some flexibility in your life, or dropping down to part time. Maybe you just want to finally start saving for retirement. Ok, so, spoiler alert, those three are all me!
Your dreams may look a little different than mine, but I know you’ve got them. Understanding WHY you want to be in control of your finances can make a big impact on your overall financial success.
Does it ever feel like you are just never going to get there? Like you’re just spinning your wheels? Like the months and years just slip by and you aren’t any further ahead than you were last year? You have hopes, dreams and goals you would like to achieve, but there just never seems to be enough money left to make your dreams take flight? Girl, I can relate.
While you are in this headspace it can seem hopeless. Like you are never going to get there. Like it’s just too big of a mess to fix and you wouldn’t even know where to get started. The minute you think you are making some headway, the next setback comes up. This seems like an overwhelming and complex problem, but it’s actually pretty simple if you break it down into its tiniest, simplest form.
-You need to get out of debt
-You need to save money.
-To do this, you need to actually have some money left over after at the end of the month.
Where to Begin
How do we find out if we have any money left over at the end of the month? Write it all down. Write down all of your income, and write down all of your bills. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A pencil and paper will do, Excel is fine, and for our tech loving friends, any budgeting app of your choice will work here too. Oh, did I just give away the secret…YOU JUST MADE YOUR FIRST BUDGET! Congratulations!
Seriously, this is the first step in taking control of your finances. It’s the financial equivalent to driving blindly down a dark road and finally turning your headlights on.
You can see exactly how much money you have left at the end of the month, after all of your bills are paid. You know how much your utilities are running, how much your tv, internet and cell phone bills are, how many credit cards you have and what your minimum payments have to be every month just to stay afloat. You can see how much your student loan payments, insurance and car payments are, and exactly how much your mortgage or rent is.
Beware the Sneaky Budget Wreckers!
These are the sneaky expenses that seem to eat away at our money little by little; the coffee on your way to work, drinks and dinner a few nights a week, the dog food, the little $20 Amazon orders here and there, and the subscriptions we forgot about (that gym membership, and the monthly autoship, I’m looking at you). While coffee and eating out are often obvious culprits, the biggest wild card for most of us is actually the grocery store.
Keep Track of Your Spending
So, your job for the next month is to pay attention to your spending. Look for ways to save, sure, but this month, just focus on coming up with the amount of money you are spending every month. You want to identify where that money you work so hard for, and get out of bed to make, is actually going. Once you have that down pat, we can make a workable budget, a tool you will use every month to control your money (not the other way around)!
Building the Budget
When you know how much money you are actually spending every month, then, we can build a workable monthly budget, putting you in the drivers seat of your finances. You will be telling your money where to go, not left wondering where it all went. You can look for places to save, make categories for savings to give you a little cushion for the unexpected, and to help you save for upcoming expenses you know are around the corner (ummm Christmas, anyone). And the best part… You can see exactly how much money you have left to work with after all of your bills are paid, so you can finally start paying off some of that debt you have been carrying around for way too long.
Ready? Let’s Go!
Are you ready? You can do this! We will break this down, step by step. Picture this dreamer, in a few months, who is the Boss Babe in control of her money? You are! You will be making progress, and heck, you might even be saving a little money for that little adventure you’ve been dreaming about!
And, you’re in luck! This month I’m sharing a little love. Follow the link to download the free printable Monthly Budget Workbook to help you get started. (You didn’t think I would leave you hanging did you?) There are also a number of online apps you can use to track your spending, due dates and payments such as Ramsey Solutions “Every Dollar” App.
If you get stuck, or would like to work one on one with a financial coach, visit the website at JennaDowell.com.
Jenna is an executive, entrepreneur, floral designer, and the owner of Elevations. She loves great coffee, everything “royal”, and adventures in wild places with her family and two dogs.