Years ago, the only way to create a budget was to write it down on a good old pen and paper. But, not anymore. There are a variety of ways for you to create your budget.
There are quite a few apps that you can download on your computer or phone that will help you create and store your budget.
Simply search ‘Budget’ in your app store and you’ll be presented with dozens of options.
If you are a fan of spreadsheets, you can create your budget in an Excel doc and store it right on your computer.
Or, if you are a fan of having a hard copy of your budget on-hand at all times, you can always use a pen and paper.
The choice is yours, and there is no wrong answer. In this article, I hope to be able to help you get a clear hold on your personal finance and budgeting 101.
5 Reasons Why You Need To Create A Budget
Budgeting is such a crucial component of financial success. Let’s first discuss why you need to create (and follow!) a budget:
- It helps you become intentional about your relationship with money. Or, more importantly, it helps you develop a healthy relationship with money.
- It allows you to determine your income to expense ratio. Are you spending more than you make?
- It helps you to get a handle on your revolving debt. How much credit card debt do you have? What about loans? (Not So) Fun Fact: According to NerdWallet, the average household in the United States has $15,611 in credit card debt and the average student loan debt is $32,264. Yikes!
- It helps you set financial goals. Unless you know exactly how much money you bring in and put out each month, it will be extremely difficult to plan for things like vacations, retirement, purchasing a home or car, or building up an emergency fund.
Sidenote – I recommend you check out Personal Capital. Personal Capital is similar to Mint.com but much better. Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect accounts such as your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more, and it’s FREE.
5. It enables you to determine exactly what you are spending your money on. Don’t you want to know where your money is going? After all, you work hard for it.
Take a few minutes to sit down and think about these five points above. Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly where your money was going each month? Or how about to actually be able to save for that vacation you’ve been dreaming of?
Stick with me and you’ll be the boss of your own money in no time! budget 101
How To Create A Successful Budget
The key to successful budgeting is to always track your income and expenses. Be honest with yourself as to how much you are spending and what you are spending it on. Keep your receipts and make sure to document your purchases/expenditures so that you can create a realistic budget.
To help you get set up, here are some categories that you may want to have in your budget:
- Income- Where does your money come from? This can be a job, child support or other income
- Automobile Loan/Insurance//Repair/Gas
- Cable Bill
- Cell Phone Bill
- Utilities (Electric, Gas, Water, etc.)
- Health Insurance
One of the great things about budgets is that they are fluid. If you need to make changes, go right ahead and make changes. Add categories. Set new budget amounts. This budget is yours. Own it. 🙂
Types Of Budgets
Different types of budgeting have been devised to suit different taste and preferences. They include;
Cash Envelope Budget
The famous Dave Ramsey cash envelope system In this category, you keep the money for different expenses tucked into different envelopes. This way, it becomes pretty easy to count on how much money remains in each expense.
This type of budget is recommended for expenses such as restaurants, gas, entertainments among many others. The good thing is that one need not save any money in order to start using envelopes.
this type of budgeting was developed by Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi. The budget caters for any emergency that arises in during the budget period. There are a number of things to pay attention to when making this type of budget.
This will include determining personal after-tax income. This will be the amount of money that you get paid after all deductions have been done.
The second step will involve making sure that you limit your expenses on 50 percent of this income. This will include only basic needs like housing, food, and clothing. After this, consider limiting your wants to 30% of the income. This will be what you use on your luxuries. Finally, save at least 20% of this income, to be used for repaying debts and making savings.
Zero Dollar Budget
In this type of budgeting, your income minus your expenses should equal to zero. Here, your expenses must match with your income. When making this budget, write down what will be your monthly income. This will include all the income you make from all the business you take. After identifying your total income, make a list of your expected monthly expenses. This will include fixed expenses such as housing.
These needs will change each month the reason why is good to do planning each month. After identifying the fixed expenses, make a list of all the seasonal expenses.
This will involve holidays such as Christmas, family members birthdays, among others. Include irregular expenses that may arise such as property taxes. Finally, subtract the income from your expenses and make sure that this equals to zero.5-category budgeting: in this case, depending on the above-discussed types of budgets, the following five categories must be included in your budget.
7 Tips To Help You Successfully Stick To A Budget
So far, we have covered the importance of creating a budget, as well as how to actually create it.
Today, we are going to talk about actually sticking to the budget. About taking that document and putting it to work for you. Here are some tips that can help you keep your eye on the prize and adhere to your budget
When just beginning to budget, it’s important to get clear about your financial goals. Maybe you’d like to prepare for retirement, or perhaps go on that cruise you’ve always dreamed of? One great way to set your intentions is to create a vision board. Vision boards help you bring your dreams to life and give you a material representation of your goals/dreams/plans. You can find lots of vision example boards on Pinterest.
Birds of a Feather
Would you believe me if I told you that who you socialize with could have an impact (positive or negative) on your budget? Well, it absolutely can! It’s highly likely that you will adapt the spending habits of those you are around the most. Do most of your friends spend money on frivolous things? That increases the chances that you will too. Are you friends thrifty and spend money cautiously? If so, it’s likely that you will too.
Become Financially Aware
There is so much to learn about finances, and most of that can be discovered by watching finance related television shows or reading financial news and/or blogs online.
This news can help you adjust your budget to account for upcoming financial trends. Perhaps the price of gas is expected to soar, or the price of milk is going to triple. The only way to know is to pay attention to financial media.
Break Down Your Goals
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It may take some time to reach your goals. Take baby steps and break down your goals into manageable pieces, like setting a monthly savings goal, for example.
Track Your Progress
Making some progress? Track it! What went well that month that allowed you to move closer to your goals? Create a visual representation of your progress. You can even add it to your vision board! I recommend you check out Personal Capital.
Personal Capital is similar to Mint.com but much better. Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect accounts such as your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more, and it’s FREE.
Keep Your Eye On The Prize
Always keep your end goal at the forefront of your mind. This will help you keep your focus and working towards your goals. It can be hard to do, but a way you can do that is by visualizing how your life will be once your debt is paid off or your retirement is fully funded!
Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to throw all of the fun out the window! Make sure to include a little money in your budget for fun and entertainment, but also take advantage of free entertainment. Invite your friends over for game night, go for a hike, spend some time at the beach. Do what you love, just make sure to keep your budget in mind.
Emergency Funds! Who? What? Where?
As I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m extremely passionate about budgeting. It really can open the doors to so many things, and definitely helps to relieve some of that stress typically associated with managing your finances.
Let’s talk about emergency funds. I know what you’re thinking, “You’ve got to be crazy. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. There’s no way that I can even think about an emergency fund.” Guess what? Even (or especially) if you are in debt, you can- and should- make having an emergency fund a priority.
What happens if your car breaks down and needs major repairs? How will you fix it? What about an unexpected medical expense? How will you or someone in your family get the medicine or medical attention that they need? What if you lose your job? No matter how stable you may think your current position is, there’s always a chance that you may need to get access to money fast.
The answer? You guessed it…your emergency fund.
When you are just starting out, I recommend that you set a goal of $1,000 for your emergency fund. This is enough money to cover most car repairs, pay a bill or two if needed and still have a bit left over in your fund. You can keep your emergency fund money in a savings account at your bank, or even in a fire-proof safe at home. Even if you have debt, I highly recommend you have an emergency fund with at least $1,000 in it.
Funding Your Emergency Fund
There are a few different ways that you can get money for your emergency fund.
- Get a part-time job
- Earn cash back online – There are several apps out there that will give you cash back for things that you already buy. Check out Ibotta, Ebates, and Swagbucks and then save your cash back dollars for your emergency fund.
- Take online surveys – If you do an online search for Online Surveys, you will come up with quite a few survey sites that will actually pay you for your opinions. Once you take the survey, you accumulate points that convert to cash when you reach a certain threshold. Take that cash and, you guessed it, stash it in your emergency fund.
- Start a Blog – Many people are currently using blogging as a source of income. Blog about something that you are passionate about, or is of particular interest to you. From there you can create classes, get advertisers/sponsors or create a product to sell on your site.
- Become frugal – If none of the above appeals to you, you may elect to become frugal. By watching carefully what you spend, using coupons and shopping at particular stores, you could save a lot of money!
The bottom line; Everyone should have an emergency fund. Even if you start out small and work your way up, it’s far better than having no emergency fund at all.
Making Budgeting Fun! The Best Way To Save
Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring. It can be – dare I say – FUN!
I love to get creative with budgeting so that it doesn’t become mundane. Make a game out of predicting your income vs. expenses each month. Reward yourself for hitting your monthly goals! Here are a few more ways to put the FUN in budgeting:
Think about your end goal. Whether it’s sipping a delicious drink by the ocean or enjoying an early retirement, create a vision board to remind you each and every what you are working towards. Use it to motivate you. To pump you up!
Unite with Friends
You’ve probably never asked them, but I’d bet that your friends are budgeting too. Create a budgeting challenge for them. Encourage one another along the way. Celebrate even the smallest of achievements with them. Use them to motivate you to keep on keepin’ on.
One of the things that I love to do is to create challenges for myself. Go into a store with only $10 and create a delicious meal for the whole family by only spending that $10. You’ll be surprised at all of the yummy ideas you come up with. Declare a ‘No Spend Weekend’. Challenge yourself to have the best weekend ever- without spending a dime! Some of my most fun and memorable weekends have been during a No Spend Weekend! There are so many awesome things to do that don’t cost anything at all. Do a Google search for ‘Things to do for free’ in your city to get some ideas.
All of these things listed above can not only help you have fun while budgeting, but they will ultimately help you to save money. If you are looking for even more ways to save money, consider these:
- Start a blog– As I mentioned in yesterday’s email, blogs can be a great source of extra income!
- Take online surveys
- Get cash back online
I’d love to know some of your creative ways to save! Feel free to comment below and let me know what has worked for you.
The Complete Credit Score Guide
Credit Score. Those two words can cause you to sweat with fear if you aren’t 100% sure on the status of your credit.
What is a credit score? According to bankrate.com, it is defined as “a three-digit number generated by a mathematical algorithm using information in your credit report. It’s designed to predict risk, specifically, the likelihood that you will become seriously delinquent on your credit obligations in the 24 months after scoring.” So, in layman’s terms, it is a number that lenders/creditors use to determine your credit-worthiness. The higher the number, the more likely you are to receive credit. Credit scores range from 300-850, with a good credit score being 700 or above.
I highly recommend you check your credit score. You can check your score with Credit Sesame for FREE. Not only will the report provide you with your credit score, but it will also list all of your creditors and the amounts owed to each. Your credit report provides you with a great snapshot of where you stand credit-wise.
If your credit score is currently less than perfect, don’t worry. Here are a few tips to help you rebuild your damaged credit:
- Check your credit report often and report any discrepancies to the credit bureau. Incorrect information can severely damage your credit.
- Pay your bills on time. Late payments have a negative impact on your credit. If you are currently late or have missed any payments, you’ll want to get caught up and then continue making timely payments.
- Make an effort to pay down the balances on any loans or credit cards. If possible, make more than the minimum payment, as that will help you lower your balance more quickly.
Having a good credit score is important for a multitude of reasons. If you are planning on purchasing a home, the bank will check your credit to determine not only if they will grant you a loan, but also determine your interest rate. Individuals with higher credit scores will typically receive much lower interest rates than those with sub-par credit. (If you are in the market for a new car, this works the same way.) Credit card companies also run your credit report to determine if they will approve or deny your application.
The bottom line is, your credit score important. You should monitor it closely and often to know where your credit stands. If it’s less than perfect, you can turn it around by following the steps above.
Golden Rule – Pay Yourself First!
Let’s talk about paying yourself first. Paying yourself first means that you are putting money into your savings before you do anything else with it. Before any bills are paid. Before money is taken out for any purpose, you put aside a set amount for your savings.
Chances are that when you are just starting out, you won’t be paying yourself out with a huge chunk of money. But you’d be surprised at how quickly just putting aside $20-$50 each paycheck adds up!
Automating your savings is your best bet in this case. I use an app call Digit, since downloading it 8 months ago, I was able to quickly save over $1,036.14 in hardly-noticeable increments such as $0.72, and $12.14!
What I love about this provider is you can speak what you want through text messages to it. If I choose to withdraw money from my savings account with them and send it again to my checking, I can easily. I can text the command “Withdraw $XXX.XX” to get it done. You can additionally text things like, “save more”, or “save less”, or “pause saving”. How easy! This service is free for 100 days, then it’s $2.99/month. They additionally pay a small quantity of interest (1% annual bonus, paid out every three months), and you can transfer the money to your optimized financial savings account you set up until now at any time.
If you are looking to build up your savings even quicker, you can do some of the things that we talked about previously, like starting a blog, taking online surveys or taking advantage of cash back sites like Ibotta, Ebates, and Swagbucks
If you choose to do this, take a chunk of funds received from these activities and stash it away in your savings!
You’ll have $1,000 or more saved up in no time!
You can also use that money to help pay down your debt to that you can begin to rebuild your credit. Remember, any time you can make a payment that is more than the minimum, you are helping to erase your debt even more quickly!
Money management and budgeting can be hard to do if you have never done it before, but it is so worth it and will give you so much more freedom!
Here on Budget with Belle; we’re all about discussing ways to earn, reduce debt and becoming financially free through side hustles! One of our favorite side hustles is blogging. Blogging is allowing me to earn a few hundreds of dollars passively. There’s nothing like earning money for doing something once. Set it and forget it (kinda of). I know finding the time to make extra money can be difficult. But, setting up a few hours a week can make a huge difference.
If you’re wondering what you can do to make extra money, check out these related post below:
- 25+ Survey Sites That Will Help Add $500 Or More To Your Income
- 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month
- Make Money At Home: 4 Ways To Make An Extra $1,000 This Month
Making extra income can be used to help pay down your debt and become financially independent. Help you begin to rebuild your credit. Allow you the freedom of a stress-free lifestyle due to diversifying your income.
We’ve come to the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed this extremely long post. Please keep me updated and let me know of any progress you may be making. Such as; paying down debt, reaching a money goal or any type of milestone.
I would love to hear about your accomplishments. 🙂
If you have any questions at all about anything that we discussed, please don’t hesitate to comment below or send me a message ( budgetwithbelle AT gmail.com) and let me know how I can help you. We are in this together!