Have you ever run out of money before? There is literally nothing more embarrassing or frustrating than that situation alone. There is a secret that could give you the security to know that you will not ever run out of money again. You want to know what it is?
It’s called a Budget!
Sorry to have taken the wind and excitement out of your sail right there. But listen, if you are looking for a get-out-of-money-trouble-quick option, there just isn’t one in existence. Unless you get some sort of crazy huge financial windfall, which is very unlikely, you’re going to need to do something totally different. It’s time to start a budget. I don’t care how old you are if you want to make the most of your money, and if you want to have any semblance of future life, you must learn to live on a budget today.
So where do you begin?
Good question. You need to start with the predictable. Recurring expenses that happen monthly or annually and then break them down. I believe almost everything can be broken down monthly so you’re not surprised.
Let’s take your electric/heating bill for example. For us, literally one of the largest home costs we have. Especially for us in the northeast, this has the power to cripple you very quickly. I remember when we first moved here and had our first experience with heating oil. I had no idea that it would cost so much to stay warm in the winter and I wished someone would have warned me so I could have started budgeting earlier.
Today, I’ve tracked our electric bill for years now and know the average trend my bill will be for every month. I’ve broken that down month over month and essentially save the same every month of the year. No matter what my bill is, small or large, I save the same. That way, when February rolls around and I get our largest electric bill, upwards of $500, I’m not losing my mind, because I’ve averaged it out all year and that money is there. That’s the power of budgeting.
So we are working on the predictable. This is going to take some work but will pay off in the long run. Write down every category you can think of. I have mine in categories and sub-categories. At the bottom of this post, you can see how I’ve broken down my budget.
The goal is to create a name for every dollar you have. Dollars without names are dollars without targets and that means you will have no idea what happens to this money, but it will be gone.
One of the things I hear from people when I talk about money is the question do I have to track every expense? No, no you don’t, but if you don’t, you’re not budgeting. So actually, yes you do. Sorry to burst your bubble.
You need a platform to do this. I used to use Excel as my budget and Microsoft Money as my tracker. Since then I have moved to a system called YNAB. I’ve just upgraded to their most current platform and time will tell if I like it as much as their previous versions. I’ve been using YNAB for about 5 years now and can say that it has saved us tons of money just by having a consistent monthly view. It’s super user friendly and even looks good.
There’s also a platform called EveryDollar that is produced by financial guru, Save Ramsey, I mean Dave Ramsey. It does essentially the same thing as YNAB.
Either way, if you want to prevent the fear of running out of money than you need a budget.
This can be daunting and if you’ve even read this far, you probably have some questions, so let’s talk. What’s your experience, fear, frustration with money and how can I help?
My Budget Categories/Sub-Categories:
- Tithing (Give to God First)
- Savings Goals (Pay yourself Second, we’ll talk about these two concepts in a later post)
- Home Projects
- Monthly Bills (Pay everyone else third)
- Everyday Expenses
- Spending Money
- Misc (personal products, cleaning, laundry, etc)
- Kids Expenses
- Rainy Day Funds
- Car Repairs
- Home Maintenance
- Car Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Vehicle – Tax Registration/Drivers license
- School Loan
- Vehicle Loan
- Personal Loan