For many, the whole process of starting a budget can be very overwhelming. I’m a firm believer in keeping things as simple as possible. So, I thought I’d show you the exact way that my mom first taught me to budget.
As a teenager, I didn’t have much money but my mom made sure that I knew how to make a budget and follow through with it. Basically, we just took whatever money I currently had and budgeted it for my expenses, which mostly included cds because that was the cool thing back when I was in high school…
Here’s how it works:
Take whatever balance you currently have in your checking account and then subtract out all the bills that have to be paid between now and the next time you get paid. Once you’ve done that subtract out how much you’ll need for groceries, gas, and any other expenses until your next paycheck.
Here’s how it looks:
Bill 1: $150.00
Bill 2: $70.00
Bill 3: $65.00
Haircuts (including tip): $50.00
Mom’s birthday dinner out: $75.00
Mom’s birthday gift: $30.00
Auto account: $75.00 (for more on how we budget for auto-related expenses, head here.)
This is called a zero balanced or zero-based budget where every penny is given a job and assigned to one thing or another. Now, please don’t get lost in this example, it’s merely an example and not a representation of the numbers you should be working with. Your numbers and your categories are going to look different.
I know that every personal finance guru on the planet tells you to “pay yourself first” by budgeting for your savings before paying your bills but for this example, I want you to pay your bills first. The reason is that I know that if you’ve never created a budget before, coming up with a reasonable and doable number to save is going to be a bit of a challenge so for now, I just want you to start off with what you do know – your bills. Then work your way towards how much you can set aside for savings and tithing.
With that said though, I still want you to save because it’s crucial, not important but essential to your overall survival and financial health. So even if you are struggling to make saving money a priority right now, I encourage you to keep it as a line item in your budget even if it is only $5 every paycheck – it’s something.
I know this budget probably looks different from the ones you’re used to seeing but I think it’s a great place to start especially if you’ve never created a budget before. As you get more and more comfortable with budgeting, work to make this budget a monthly instead of paycheck-by-paycheck thing. This over time will help you stop the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and help you manage your money better.
What’s your best budgeting tip for anyone overwhelmed with starting a budget?
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