If you haven’t read my last two posts please go back and start with my post from August 8, 2017, Jump your mental hurdle and Getting a grip from August 10th. In this post we’ll finish the nuts and bolts of building your budget that we started in those prior posts.
I’ve been listening to people talk about their money problems professionally for over 15 years. The argument tends to be, “I can’t get ahead because I don’t make enough money”. Unfortunately the opposite tends to be the truth, you make what you make. You have control over what you spend.
People often strongly resist flipping the, “I don’t make enough money” argument. It may seem like a small nuance, a little difference in semantics. However, these two perspectives are a big deal when it comes to achieving your financial goals. The bottom line is, if you’re not getting ahead each month then you have to take a close look at how you spend your money. Certainly I’m an advocate of working on earning more, but that’s often a longer term projects. Today you need to be real with yourself and gain a better understanding how you can improve your spending habits.
If you’ve worked through the action items in my prior posts, you’ve spent some time looking at your monthly expenses, you’ve built the framework for your budget. The fixed monthly expenses discussed in Getting a grip are important to understand and get a handle on. If you need to make big changes those are a good place to start. However, it’s often the smaller purchases that we need to get under control.
Action item number 3:
Now that you’ve created the basic framework of your budget it’s time to start tracking those variable monthly expenses. These are the expenses that you have some control over. Groceries, eating out, entertainment, coffee etc. Please, don’t go crazy adding dozens of categories as you work through this section, the total is the important number but consider the broad categories of expenses that you would like to better understand. I use no more than 4 or 5 categories to make maintaining this section on a weekly basis easy.
Once you’ve created this section, and you’re comfortable that your budgeted numbers are roughly accurate then simply copy the budget section, and variable expenses sections for a monthly period (since I use a bi-monthly period I would copy 2 periods, first and last half of the month) into a full year. the totals from each period roll into the next. Once this is done you have a budget for the entire year that will update as you record info in your check register. The final result should look like this:
Before you replicate your budget into a full year take a look at the final post in this series Your Budget is Complete!! it may help fine tune your numbers.
Please don’t be discouraged if this looks like a complicated process, take it one step at a time as I’ve laid out in the past three posts. It does take some work initially, but once you get comfortable it only takes a few minutes each week to maintain, and it will change your relationship with your finances.
As always if you have any questions please leave a comment below.