So, it’s 2014 and you want to get your financial life situated. Don’t we all??? I’m pretty organized and into this budgeting thing, but sometimes I need a wake up call, too.
If you are thinking of starting a budget, here’s my starter tip:
Just write it down.
This works in many instances: 1) You think you are doing just fine financially, but somehow end up with zero money at the end of the month (or before!) 2) You have no spending plan 3) You have no idea what you spend on which categories 4) You agree with any of the above, but your spouse thinks you are crazy. I could keep going, but lets just say that there are plenty of reasons to start.
The reason I suggest starting here is that budgeting can be overwhelming. And stressful. And your first attempt is probably going to be unrealistic. But, if you take a week or month to write down your expenditures, you’ll have plenty of information to back you up on whether you are currently spending out of control or to see approximately how much you are spending on food per month. Plus, as an added bonus, if you know you’re going to have to write it down, you are less likely to spend it in the first place. 🙂
If you are married, I definitely advise getting your spouse on board. However, if you’ve tried, then having a months worth of data to bring to them and start a conversation should definitely help you. Even if it’s only your side of the data.
My husband and I keep our weekly expenses in Excel under the following categories: Vehicle Fuel and Maintenance, Groceries, Entertainment, Dining Out, Clothing, Bob Personal, Autumn Personal, and Miscellaneous. Because there is always miscellaneous! It’s not a perfect system, but I can make almost everything fit in those categories. You can start with those categories or make up your own, just make sure you write EVERYTHING down! No exceptions!
Cheers to the new year!