By: Amber Moore
You may have watched your parents budget their paychecks and you’ve probably heard many people say that a budget is the best way to control your money (instead of feeling like it controls you!), but if you’ve never done one before, the thought of it might seem overwhelming!
It’s really not, I promise. I’m going to show you how to create your very first household budget without making your head spin.
First off, you don’t need a fancy app or even know how to use excel to do a budget. Sometimes the best way to start out is with plain ol’ pen and paper. This process is for a simple budget on a fixed income, if your income fluctuates check out “How to Budget when Your Paycheck is Never the Same“.
- At the top list your income.
- Next list your monthly expenses. Tithe, savings, food, transportation costs, housing costs (rent or mortgage and utilities) and necessary clothing are the first things you should list. Next list out other payments (loan payments, cc payments, cable/internet, phone, etc.). Finally, list all of your “personal” expenses: eating out, spending money, health/beauty, etc.
- Now add up your expenses and compare to your income.
Is it in the black? Great! Now you can determine where any of that “extra” money should go. If you have any non-mortgage debt, then it should first go towards a small savings fund for emergencies only (think between $1 – 3K). Above that, then that money should go towards your debts (start at the smallest balance and work your way up).
If you are in the red, don’t panic! You will have to go back into your budget starting from the bottom to see where you can cut or save. Here are some items that are not “needs” (remember this is only temporary to get you back to winning with your money): cable, gym memberships, hair/nails, eating out, entertainment, extra curricular activities, etc. Also, there are some categories that you can probably reduce: clothing budget (buy thrift stores and sales and only what is absolutely necessary), groceries (check out “How to Cut Your Grocery bill in 1/2!). If you are still in the red, you will have to look at some harder (but not impossible choices) such as taking on extra jobs, selling any cars or toys, selling any household items you can (yay garage sale!), etc.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and you will find that you are wrong somewhere in your budget (either over or under). That’s okay. Once you start tracking your spending, you can adjust your numbers and each month there will be less and less adjusting to do.
Have that pen and paper budget down and looking to upgrade? Consider making your own in excel or using an app like HomeBudget, YNAB, or Everydollar. There are also some great printable worksheets on our Resources page!
Have a personal testimony on how budgeting has made a difference for you or your family? Leave it as a comment below!
As someone who always made people ask, “How does she do it?”, I had to learn how to fit more into my day without completely losing my mind. Now I’m excited to share how I did that and what I’ve learned with everyone else. I just want to see people able to live the life they want, doing the things they want, without the stress they think is normal. I want everyone to experience Peace of Time.