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Did you know that approximately 1/3 of American families don’t have a household budget? Having a family budget is 100% essential to anyone looking to gain control of their finances. I get it, the thought of creating a written budget can be a completely overwhelming and daunting task. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. With these 4 simple steps, you can create the budget you’ve always wanted and give yourself the peace of mind you’ve always deserved.
First, Let’s Change Our Way Of Thinking
Before we start it’s a good idea to change our thinking about what a budget is. A budget is a plan for our money. It’s not restrictive or depriving it’s actually quite the opposite. When you have a budget you can spend without guilt or worry because you know that the money is accounted for. This is quite liberating in and of itself. If we hold negative feelings towards budgeting we will never succeed at it no matter how perfect everything looks on paper.
Choose A Budgeting Template You Understand
A budget doesn’t need to be a super complicated Excel spreadsheet. In fact, it is far better to have a budget system that you can confidently navigate rather than something that looks nice but frustrates you every time you use it. Take a moment to think about your personality. Does physically writing things out on a piece of paper help you? Maybe you are more crafty and would enjoy using a planner where you can decorate and color code. Or maybe you find yourself gravitating more towards something you can use on your computer or phone. Whichever method you choose make sure it’s something that is going to motivate and excite you and not the other way around. Still not sure what your thing is? The budgeting template we used that helped us pay off $26,000 on a low income (while I was a stay at home mom) was the Every Dollar Budgeting Tool. It is simple, completely free to use and can be accessed anywhere and anytime from both mobile and desktop.
Get To Know Your Income
It’s time to get to know your money on a personal level and if you want to break the cycle of overspending, having a strong understanding of how much income you bring in is vital to your success. Why is that important? It’s really hard to tell your money what to do if you aren’t aware of how much is coming in and when you are receiving it. Really take the time to think about all your sources of income. Going through previous check stubs and bank statements would be helpful to ensure accuracy.
Gather Up All Of Your Expenses
Start making a list of all of your monthly expenses. Really, I mean ALL. It’s kind of embarrassing but in the beginning, I used to be great at budgeting out all of our basic bills but completely ignored any variable expenses like gas, groceries and eating out. My motto was if it’s in the account it’s there to spend and boy did I spend. Budgeting like that isn’t really budgeting at all and you will never feel in control living that way. I know how scary it can feel putting a dollar amount on food because hey, food is important but having boundaries on your spending no matter what it’s for is just as important.
Don’t Forget The Debt
Debt sucks, I know. It’s easy to want to forget that it exists, especially if you have a lot of it, but the truth is this is something we need to focus on so that we can get rid of it for good. If this is super overwhelming for you take it slow. Begin to write down all of your debts and one by one start looking up your account balances. List your debts from smallest to largest and place them into your budget in that order.
In order for you to see a change in your finances, you need to just start. This is often the hardest part but in order to succeed with our finances, we need to just begin, even if its hard or messy at first. With that said creating a budget that works doesn’t need to be a headache every time you do it. By picking the right budget template that suits your personality best, getting to know your income and listing all of your expenses you will then create a budget that motivates and excites you. That is the very first step to gaining control of your finances and living the life you want and deserve.