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Budgeting 101

Do you ever feel like you can’t afford life? Me too. One day I realized I was spending more than I was making, and I knew I needed some sort of system. So I started learning how to budget. First things first, you need some sort of budget book.

My book has a variety of things: bill tracker, savings tracker, debt tracker, monthly income, monthly savings, monthly budgeting, and daily expenses. You don’t need all of this, but it is quite helpful and organized. I would attach a link, but unfortunately, it’s currently unavailable on amazon. Any budget book will do though. Whatever system works best for you.

There are three sections for the monthly budgeting that I love: budget, actual expense, and difference. I am an organized person, so I love that it breaks it down and shows what my budget is, what I spent, and how much I saved or went over. Try to keep track throughout the month, and don’t wait until the end.

Living in today’s world is very difficult, especially with inflation going up. My advice to you is, if you don’t already know what you spend monthly, keep track of everything. Think about how much you spend on groceries, going out to eat, gas, your morning coffee run, memberships, etc. See if you can realistically budget for these things. If you have a membership to the gym but you never go, cancel it. If you drive to Starbucks every morning to get that morning pick-me-up, try reducing that to maybe 2 days a week (even one day if you can) and start making coffee at home. If you eat out all the time, try only going out once a week. You can reduce your electricity bill by turning off lights in rooms you’re not using, which I understand can be hard (I leave my kitchen light on all the time). You’ll be amazed at how much money you can save when you cut out those “bad habits”. There are some things you unfortunately can’t change in your budget, such as your car or house loan, car insurance, or even gas (because let’s face it, we don’t make the prices, and we obviously need gas to get to and from places).

When it comes to groceries, it can be tricky to decide how much to spend. I usually only get enough for a couple of meals, some snacks, and things we need around the house. I do end up going a little overboard sometimes to limit the amount of trips to the store, but since I budget, I know when to stop loading the cart and go check out. A trick that helps me is, I will use the Walmart app to make a grocery list, and will stop when I’ve gotten to my budget for that trip. Most of the time I just order through pickup because 1. It is easier and more convenient. 2. I already made the list and all I have to do is hit 'pickup at this time'. 3. It stops me from going in the store and finding things not on the list. If you happen to like shopping for yourself, try telling yourself “no. It's not on the list, keep walking” when conflicted on buying something extra. That’s another trick that has proven to work very well for me.

My advice to you is, figure out how much you make in a month, minus all the bills, then figure out how much you still have left over to budget for everything else. My goal is to save $150-300 a month. Some months are definitely harder than others, but if you put your mind to it and pay attention to your spending (write down everything you spend money on, and I do mean everything), you can do it!

Thanks for talking with me!

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