When life hands you lemons, the experts recommend making lemonade. However, after drinking so much lemonade, you will get tired of it. Living frugally is much like that. You scrimp and save for so long, and you begin to lose sight of the goal. One spending indiscretion can lead to two, then four, and you are reading the message everywhere: You Deserve It. Next thing you know, you’ve spent that hard-earned emergency fund, or you’ve gone shopping on the credit card. What you need is a way to re-ignite the passion you had for your initial goal, or it may be time to pick a different goal. Either way, let’s get you back on track.Your Money: When a spending indiscretion leads to falling for the *You deserve it* message and you've used that credit card or emergency fund. It's time to re-ignite the passion for your goal, or it's time to change the goal. Click To Tweet
Some experts denounce budgets, and some call it a spending plan. I call it the key to knowing your costs, and where your money needs to go.
Print out statements for the last three months of every account you use. Include your:
> credit card statements
> savings accounts
>refillable gift cards.
You will also need a calendar or a planner. I use a planner, but any calendar with sufficient space will do. Happy Planners has a budget planner and regular planner pages, and Erin Condren Life Planners are great. Write down each and every transaction, pre-authorized withdrawals, paydays, etc. No matter how small, how insignificant, write it down.
Make a reference list of all reoccurring payments and bills. Don’t forget rent, car payments, insurance, quarterly payments, annual subscriptions, etc. Write down the date(s) they are billed. Make note of what account or credit card they are deducted from, or if you have to manually pay those bills.
Review your list:
Note which ones are repetitive and not flexible and/or are essentials: rent, car payment, insurance, premiums, contracted payments, bank fees, etc. These payments will usually be the same amount each month. Call this GROUP A.
Note which ones are repetitive and flexible, and not essentials: subscription services, memberships, credit card payments, interest billed to balances, etc. Call this GROUP B.
Note which ones are shopping: were they clothes, tech, games, fast food, bar night? Was it an all-encompassing trip to Walmart or Target? Where do you spend your money when it’s not auto-deducted? Call this GROUP C.
Take the calendar for the next month (or two or more) and write in each pay day. Include all of your expected streams of income, and note them on the calendar. Make a note of how much the pay will be, if it’s a regular amount, or where the pay is coming from, if it changes.
Take your list and write all the Group A items in your calendar. These are the expenses you know you will be paying, and you need to know when they are and exactly how much.
Look at Group B. Go through each one, and ask yourself if you still use, need or want it. Do you pay for two music services? Too many subscription boxes? What are you paying for? If you are not using it, or do not need it, cancel them.
For all the remaining Group B items, write it on the calendar.
Do not write anything from Group C on the calendar. You will need that list for later.
Calculate how much your expected expenses are for each week. Write that amount at the end of the week. Is this amount more or less than your pay intervals?
Here’s an easy way to find out how much you need each week.
Your expenses equal $1,608 for the month (rent, car payment, car insurance, tenant insurance, credit card minimums, cell phone, cable, internet, etc.). You are paid:
>Weekly – $402.00 goes to bills
>Bi-weekly – $804.00 goes to bills
>Monthly – $1,608 goes to bills
This amount should come off the top of your pay. Anything left can then go to non-essentials and flexible costs, like debt reduction, investments, vacation, down payment to a house, etc. This goes back to the earlier question:
By calculating your expenses in advance, you will not be short. However, if you do not calculate it to be equal each pay period, make sure that you are not short one pay period, and under budget the next. This will make you feel out of control, and with an ever-need to catch up. Be proactive, and start planning towards your goal!
Congratulations! You have set up a very basic budget! You know your expenses, and you know how much money you need from each paycheque. You are on your way to achieving your goal.
Once a week, write down EVERY TRANSACTION in your calendar. You will want to do this for the following reasons:
> Take ownership of every dollar you spend. See it on the calendar. We will discuss this further, and you will need your data for that part.
> Watch for any fraudulent charges (unauthorized by you) and any bank errors.
>Make note of any automatic payments you may have forgotten to write down previously.
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