To budget or not to budget

Making a budget is fun.  It’s easy.

Did I lose you?

It’s ok, you don’t have to share my opinion 🙂

In my rather short time here on earth I have realized that most people don’t really like to create or follow a budget.    God made some of us to like it, to enjoy it even.  I seriously can lose track of time when working on our personal finances!  I often wonder what is the root cause to people’s dislike of a budget?  They think it’ll be too hard?  Maybe they like the ignorance of where their money goes so they don’t have to be accountable?  Perhaps they just have not found the right way to create and follow a budget that suits them?  I think the answer is probably a combination of these and more.

I first learned about keeping a budget in one of my college classes.  Before this class, I had just saved and spent wisely.  This is good but keeping a budget opened my eyes to how much EASIER saving and spending wisely could be! Another benefit is that a budget helps you be intentional about giving and saving instead of an afterthought at the end of month if there is some money left over.

I think everyone should at least give it a try for at least six months.  If they still don’t like it then they can go back to whatever it was they were doing before.

I’m chomping at the bit.  Let’s get started.   Step 1: Pay attention.  For at least one month but no more than two months, write down everything you spend money on.  Every penny!  Keep receipts if it helps.  Side note:  I’m a big proponent of keeping receipts if you use your credit card because you should be checking your statement each month to make sure it is the same as your receipts.  This way you’ll know quickly if something is wrong. After you completed this step you need to analyze.  What is the average amount of money you spent on utilities, house, car, gas, groceries, eating out, entertainment, etc?

Step 2 get organized.  This where keeping a budgets helps you be intentional about where your money is going.  I like to make categories, such as house, food, car, etc.  Then, under each category I itemize.  I’ll be transparent and tell you what our budget looks like.  1.  Income.  2.  Giving:  tithe, child sponsor, a missionary, and a christian non-profit.  3.  House:  mortgage, insurance, cell, water, electric, internet, repairs/updates.  4.  Car:  gas, repairs, license.  5.  Pet:  food, vet, license.  6.  Food:  groceries, eating out.  7.  Allowance:  myself, hubby.  8.  Gifts  9.  Entertainment 10.  Medical  (gotta love well-baby check-ups)  11.  Other:  clothes, Vemma, newspaper, kids’ stuff, classes, and miscellaneous.  Notice I did not write down “savings” and that is because we have it set up through hubby’s employer to have it automatically taken out from paycheck and this budget is only for what comes in from paycheck.  I also have a spot in the budget for saving towards a family trip to visit my sister in Florida and a zoo pass.

Step 3divvy out the money.  After you have your categories, allocate how much money you think should be in each one.  This is fluid.  It is not set in stone!  By all means adjust the numbers if you need to later on.  Just be careful to not adjust so much that you are robbing savings and givings just so you can buy another outfit.  At least once a year I adjust our budget (which I did this past July) to reflect our needs at that time in our life.

Step 4Do it. Continue to keep track of what you spend so that you know you are staying within your budget.  How you do this will be up to you and your personality.  Paper or computer?  Cash or credit card?  Try one method and if you find it doesn’t work then switch and try a different method.  There is no right or wrong way.  This is why I say to give it a try for at least six months (actually 4-5 months once you’ve completed step 1) because it gives you time to adjust and find what works for you.

Go ahead, give it a try!

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