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Budgeting

How to Automate Your Finances

This week Julie Lause is sharing how automating her finances helped her through some tough financial times. In her guest post below, she’ll tell you exactly how you can automate your finances to reach your financial goals.

If you’ve got big financial goals but can’t seem to make traction, automating your finances might just be the best way to achieve financial freedom.

Like most people, I’ve seen my share of dark times financially. In the middle of one of those dark times, I created this automation system for managing my finances that was the key to getting myself out of a financial hole.

Automating Finances to Solve a Financial Crisis

In 2004, I bought my first home. It was a huge achievement– as a teacher I didn’t make too much money to begin with and I used all my savings for the down payment. I spent a year renovating the house with 0% interest credit cards. Then, one year later those same cards turned into 13% interest cards.

I had to refinance the home to weave in the credit card debt.

It wasn’t a bad plan: I had a lot of equity in the home, the renovation had gone well, and I would get a lower interest rate on the refinance.

How to automate your finances

And then Hurricane Katrina struck. My refinance was off.

So there I was: relocated in Houston with rent to pay, a mortgage payment to make back home, and now $40,000 of high interest credit card debt. No savings (I spent it all to buy the house), making less than $35,000 a year as a public school teacher, and no wiggle room.

I couldn’t afford even the minimum payments on all the credit cards that were now due. I defaulted on my mortgage. It was pretty hopeless.

I made a deal with my mortgage to delay payments three months to get on my feet.

And in that time I created a plan that would put me on a path to financial freedom. I knew it would take a while, but I was able to use this plan to get out of debt, get to a more stable financial place, refinance again when things changed a year later, and meet all my financial obligations knowing how much I could spend.

Basics of Automation: a Down-to-Zero budget

Whether you make $30,000 a year and have no wiggle room, or you have a lot to spare, this automation system works to help you meet your financial goals without taking a penny-pinching approach.

The idea behind a zero-sum budget (or what I call a Down-to-Zero budget) is that you create a budget based on your income and your goals.

After handling bill pay, savings, debt repayment, and planning for irregular expenses and emergencies, the remaining money is your spending money for the month.

This way, you know you are meeting your financial obligations first  BEFORE you spend all your money on fun stuff.

You’re making it inevitable you meet your goals.

And then you make it EVEN MORE INEVITABLE  you automate the whole plan online.

What if, on top of making a a plan and meeting your goals you never had to think about it again? That’s where automation comes in.

Rationale for Automating your Finances

The idea behind automating your budget is that, once you make your financial decisions, they don’t need to be made repeatedly. You can set them and forget them if you make the right plan.

This plan is based on three key principles:

1. Start with Rational Decisions, Not Impulses

Let’s face it, we make our best decisions about money when we’re not standing in front of the $1 section at Target. Do your work first.

Sit down with your finances, get honest, and make a plan that will work for your goals.

Related: The Easiest Way to Make a Monthly Budget

Determine how much you need to spend to pay your bills and live on, and then make a rational plan to contribute to savings, debt repayment, emergencies, and annual expenses.

2. Spend What You Have – Not More

So don’t let yourself see what you have.

That feeling of flushness when we get paid, the feeling that we can afford those tickets or those pants or that trip: we have to stop letting ourselves feel that.

The money in our bank account at the beginning of the month is not extra money to buy extra stuff. It’s spoken for money. That money has plans, and those plans were made by you already. You are not in charge of those plans every month.

Instead, leave yourself as much cash as you need to live on each month (plus some room for fun stuff like lattes and the zoo and a pair of pants).

It’s difficult to spend less money than we already do, and it’s also pretty clear from the research that, the more money we make, the more we spend. Think about the last raise you got: is that making you feel MORE rich or does it feel the same? If it feels the same it’s because you are spending MORE than you used to but you can’t really tell.

We’re not talking about starving yourself or living from a deficit mindset, but don’t let the decisions about what needs to happen with your money be at the mercy of your impulse spending. Make those decisions before it’s time to spend.

3. We Don’t Prepare for Emergencies

Emergencies happen. Whether it’s a busted tire or Beyonce tickets going on sale, you will want to make a plan that accounts for the emergencies that come up.

That means putting aside a little each month into an account for emergencies.

Related: Easiest Tips To Start an Emergency Fund Now

We also need to think about planning for those bills and expenses that don’t come up monthly but still happen regularly. This includes tuition, taxes, summer camp, and vacations. These expenses come up and we are STUNNED, just stunned that here it is, June again, and we have to pay for summer camp.

The consequences of not planning ahead for these expenses is we either derail our savings and debt repayment that month to afford the $1000 tuition bill, or we put it on the credit card.

This begins a cycle of debt that can be difficult to break.

The truth is, if we can make a plan we can still meet our financial goals despite these emergencies or irregular expenses.

How to Automate Your Finances

Take these steps to create a plan that makes paying down debt, saving for retirement or college, and affording your life inevitable.

Create Financial Clarity

The first thing you need to do before you automate is get really clear about your financial situation, what your goals are, and how much you can live on.

  1. Use my free financial planning templates to set goals and figure out how much you will set aside each month for bill pay, savings, debt repayment, emergencies, and annual expenses.
  2. Decide exactly how much spending money you need to live on each month using your debit card or cash. This is gas money, the yard guy, yoga class, and trips to the aquarium.
  3. Get strategic about making a schedule so that you have a plan to never miss a payment, even if you’re paid twice a month or weekly.  

Set Up Your Bank Automation

Next,  set up your bank accounts so you never see your whole paycheck again.

When the money comes in to your account, you route it to at least four accounts: your spending account, bill pay account, annual savings account, and your savings account. You could also decide to create an emergency account separate from savings.

Creating these accounts is simple— you can do it online with your bank in about ten minutes.

I suggest having your direct deposit sent to the account you call SPENDING and then move money to bill pay, savings, and annual savings from there. This is super easy if you use recurring account transfers.

You will need to do some work to determine the timing of each payment and ensure that your paychecks coincide with the amounts you need in each account. My financial planning templates can support you— one sheet deals directly with timing issues.

Once you have your accounts set up and your account transfers automated, set up your bill pay so every monthly bill you have comes out of the same bill pay account and is automatically paid at the time you choose.

 

Instead of struggling each month, you will instead watch the money move from account to account, paying your bills magically, and building up your savings without lifting a finger.

If you’re committed to meeting your financial goals with the money, you have (not the money you’ll have someday), this plan helps you go from financial crisis to solid plan. AND you can make it inevitable if you automate the whole darn thing!

 

Julie Lause HeadshotJulie Lause blogs at The Bossy House

Julie Lause is a school principal by day and a blogger by night. Over at The Bossy House she writes for women taking charge of it all, from work to parenting to the house to the world! Check out her FREE financial planning templates that will set you on the path to financial freedom. Clean up your finances in just 2 hours!

Piggy Bank for saving money
Budgeting

Easiest Tips to Start an Emergency Fund Now

One of the best pieces of advice we received before we started our debt free journey was to build an emergency fund.

When we first committed to paying down our debt, we were overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. It was a lot of debt and it seemed like our budget would never allow for us to make even the smallest dent in it. Read more about how we became debt free.

But time and time again we read about the importance of having an emergency fund.

And I’m so glad that this was the first step we took.

It seems counter intuitive to save money when you want to pay off debt. But trust me (and countless personal finance experts) when I say it is crucial to your success.

There were several times while we were laser focused on paying off debt we would have been sidetracked had we not had an emergency fund.

For example, we had to take our dog to emergency vet care in the middle of the night which I’m sure you can imagine is not cheap. They offered us a payment plan but that would have increased our debt. We were able to pay the bill in cash.

There were less expensive emergencies including a flat tire, refrigerator repair, and unexpected doctor’s visits.

These were all funded from our emergency fund, allowing us to continue to make progress towards paying down on our debt.

We never had to take on additional debt to cover these expenses, nor did we come up short at the end of the month because of these expenses.

The emergency fund was our “secret sauce” to paying down debt and staying debt free. And I’m here to share the secret!

Why You Need An Emergency Fund For Your Debt Free Journey #personalfinance #savings

What is an Emergency Fund?

The core difference between an emergency fund and other savings accounts is you only use the funds in an emergency fund for true emergencies.

But what defines an emergency? The key to defining a true emergency is that it is an unforeseen need. It is NOT an unforeseen want.

If you run out of money at the end of the month because of overspending and poor planning, this is not an emergency.

Here are examples of true emergencies:

  • Job Loss – This is one of the most serious and frightening personal finance emergencies. If you experience job loss, you can use your emergency fund to help you pay for rent/mortgage, groceries, utilities, etc.
  • Medical Expenses – Little Johnny breaks his arm, or you need an emergency root canal. These are unplanned costly expenses that cannot be put off.
  • Home Repairs – If your water heater bursts, or your refrigerator stops cooling, these are emergencies. However, if something breaks that can wait to be replaced, save up for it. Do not use your emergency fund.
  • Car Repairs – A flat tire, or any other unexpected repair, falls into this category. Expected maintenance such as an oil change, routine tire replacement does not constitute as an emergency.

Dave Ramsey recommends a minimum emergency fund of $1,000 if you are paying off debt. If you are debt free, your emergency fund should be 3-6 months of living expenses.

There is one caveat. If you are in an unstable job, you may consider increasing your emergency fund to cover at least a month or two of living expenses.

No matter how much you put in your emergency fund, the most important thing is that you have one that will cover you for financial emergencies.

Why is an Emergency Fund Important?

Life happens while you are planning. Even if you are armed with a budget and have everything planned things happen.

To continue reducing your debt or living without worrying about what you would do if a crisis hits, you need a plan that will ensure you do not acquire new debt.

How to Save For an Emergency Fund

Savings should be part of your budget. Period.

If you don’t have a budget, Start Here.

But don’t think you need to have a FULL emergency fund immediately. Because you don’t. While there is a benefit to filling up your emergency fund sooner rather than later, you can only do what your income and budget allows.

I found the best way to stay consistent and committed to putting money in savings is to set up automatic transfers from our checking account to our savings account on pay days.

If you choose this method and you are paid bi-weekly, you will need to deposit $38.50 each pay period to your emergency account to save $1000 in 1 year. Not bad right?

If you don’t have room in your budget now to put money towards an emergency fund, here are ways to find additional money to add to your emergency fund:

  • Save Your Change: All that extra change adds up. Even if it’s just a few cents, put your change in a jar to help add a few extra dollars towards your emergency fund.
  • Cut Your Expenses: Find creative ways to reduce your monthly expenses. Here are 31 simple ways to reduce your monthly expenses.
  • Find Additional Forms of Income: You could get a quick boost of income by selling things or by finding a side job like dog-sitting or babysitting for your neighbors.
  • Extra Paychecks: You know those months with extra paychecks? That’s a great time to take that extra paycheck and add it to your emergency fund.
  • Tax Refunds: Put some, if not all, of your tax refund into your emergency fund. This is a great way to give that emergency fund a boost.

Where Do You Keep Your Emergency Fund?

Ideally, you should have a separate savings account for your emergency fund.

We have several savings accounts, each with its own purpose. We have an emergency fund savings account, a savings account to pay taxes from, and a vacation savings account.  

No matter where you keep the money, the rule of thumb is that the money is quickly accessible in an emergency but not so accessible that it will tempt you to use it for non emergency spending.

Summary

If you don’t have a funded emergency fund, start saving for one today. Include space in your budget to save for an emergency fund. If you don’t have room in your budget right now, find ways to save money or find additional income.

If you need help with creating a budget, check out the easiest way to make a monthly budget.

Additional Resources to Help You With Your Debt Free Journey:

The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover is an easy to read and life changing book. This was the book that completely changed my outlook on our finances and motivated us to become debt free.

 Budget Planner

Easily organize your monthly bills, track your savings and your spending all in one place!

Cash Envelopes

Using cash envelopes can help you stay on track with your spending. Instead of swiping away with a card, the cash envelopes allow you to closely monitor your spending for each category in your budget!

Ibotta

Learn how you can earn money just by scanning your receipts. Read everything you need to know about Ibotta.

An Emergency fund is one of the most important tools for staying debt free. Includes the best tips to save for an emergency fund
Laptop with budget on screen
Budgeting

Master List of Personal Budget Categories

When we first started using budgets we failed. The main reason? We were missing important budget categories, and we often had additional expenses we hadn’t planned for.

Not only did this mess up our allocations, it was also incredibly discouraging.

Does this sound familiar? Well, then you have come to the right place friend.

I have put together the ultimate list of budget categories so you can avoid this common mistake.

I’ve created some main categories and then listed individual budget items within each category. You won’t use all of these categories all the time.

I recommend keeping this list handy as you sit down to work on your budget for the month.

Quick Tips:

  • It’s helpful to write out your expenses from the previous month to see how much money goes into each budget category.
  • Don’t forget to keep your calendar handy too, so you’re reminded of the birthday parties or other events that will require a budget category.
  • You may also consider saving a little each month for some of these budget categories, so when the payment is due you aren’t scrambling to find the money.
  • Use this Budget Printable to easily keep track of all your expenses.

Master List of Personal Budget Categories

Budget Categories

Income

It is important to break out all of your income individually rather than just including a lump sum. Include your take home income after taxes, health insurance, etc. If you have an irregular income, list the least amount you expect to earn. Anything extra can be used for savings or to pay off debt.

  • Paycheck
  • Predictable Bonus
  • Investment income:
    • Rental property
    • Earned interest

Expenses

Housing

Housing is typically the largest budget item in most budgets.This category includes everything related to owning or renting your home, not just your rent or your mortgage.

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Household repairs
  • HOA Dues
  • Renters Insurance
  • Property Taxes
  • Household repairs
  • Large Appliances (washer, refrigerator etc)

Education/Childcare

This can also be another big category for many families. Beyond any tuition or daycare costs, don’t forget to include any required registration fees for the upcoming school year.

  • Private School Tuition
  • College Tuition
  • Before/After School Care
  • Summer Camp
  • Registration Fees
  • School Supplies
  • Tutoring
  • Daycare
  • School Lunch
  • Babysitter
  • Private lessons – dance class, sports
  • School Field Trips
  • Alimony

Utilities

These are typically what we consider essential budget items, so don’t leave them off your list. If you are behind on utility payments, this should be one of the first late bills (after housing) you should work towards getting current on.

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Natural Gas
  • Trash
  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Cell phone bill

Transportation

Beyond just paying for gas for your car, there are additional transportation costs you may need to consider. A few of these include:

  • Toll payments
  • Public transportation fare (subway, bus or train)
  • Gas
  • Car maintenance- oil changes, tires etc/
  • Parking Fees
  • Registration/DMV Fees

Pets

We love them and treat them as another member of our families. But there are unique costs our pets incur that you will need to include in your budget.

  • Grooming
  • Pet Food
  • Pet accessories – kitty litter etc
  • Veterinary Visits

Food

We all need food and this tends to be a budget category that many people struggle with. To make sure you properly allocate enough funds in this category break out what food you realistically will need to purchase.

  • Groceries
  • Eating Out
  • Coffee/Quick bites

Debt

This can be a scary category to tackle.  Include the monthly minimum payment for all debts, unless you are able to pay more than the minimum.

  • Student loan
  • Credit Card Payments
  • Car Payment
  • Miscellaneous Debt (furniture, electronics etc)

Gifts

This is the time to look at your calendar and see what, if any, gifts you’ll need to purchase this month. From birthday presents to end of the year gifts for teachers, you won’t have to stress about the costs if you plan ahead and include it in your budget.

  • Birthday Gifts
  • Anniversary Gifts
  • Holiday Gifts
  • Teacher Gifts

Personal Care

This category includes both personal care necessities as well as the extras.

  • Toiletries
  • Haircuts
  • Hair Color
  • Gym Membership
  • Clothing
  • Shoes

Household items

Any regularly used household item goes into this category.

  • Laundry Detergent
  • Dishwasher Detergent
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Napkins/paper towels/toilet paper
  • Small appliances (toaster, microwave etc)
  • Emergency Kits/Hurricane Preparedness etc

Insurance

We all need some kind of insurance. If you find this to be an expensive category, reach out to your insurance company to see if you can re-negotiate your rates.

  • Homeowners Insurance/Renters Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance

Health Care

  • Medications
  • Medical Devices
  • First Aid Items
  • Doctor’s Visits
  • Senior Care

Entertainment

Anything you do for fun can be included in this category.

  • Subscriptions
  • Movie Theater Tickets
  • Outings
  • Electronics
  • Netflix

Savings

Make savings a priority by including this in your budget. It’s easy to say you’ll just save whatever is left over. This is a recipe to failure. Don’t leave this important budget category off!

  • Savings
  • Emergency fund
  • Tithing/Giving
  • Retirement
  • Kids college savings
  • Vacation fund

Miscellaneous

This category is for anything else that doesn’t fit into the above categories.

  • Bank fees
  • Credit Card Fees
  • Professional Dues
  • State and Federal Taxes(if you are self employed)
  • Anything else!

 

Here are some additional resources to help you create a budget and meet your financial goals!

The Easiest Way To Create A Monthly Budget

31 Simple Ways to Save Money Each Month

Must Read Getting Debt Free Books for Your Debt Free Journey

 

 

Do you find yourself struggling with your budget and having expenses you weren't expecting? Check out this complete list of budget categories to help you make a budget that will help you save money, become debt free, and reach your financial goals. #personalfinance #budgetforbeginners #monthlybudget #debtfree
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Budgeting

The Ultimate List of Free Printable Budget Worksheets

Are you looking for the tools to get your finances in order, save money and crush your financial goals? Well then you have come to the right place, friend!

I have put together the Ultimate Free Printable Budget Worksheet list of all the best FREE budget worksheets on the web.

As many of you know, I’ve made my own printable budget worksheet, but I realize that everyone and everyone’s budget is unique. So I decided to check out some other printable budget worksheets.

If you want a deeper dive into managing your finances, becoming debt free and building wealth you should check out Master Your Money. It includes 14 eBooks, 10 eCourses, 10 printables, 11 videos and more. It’s honestly the best value and gives you all the tools you need to successfully manage your personal finances. Check out the complete list of tools here.

And friends, I was not disappointed. I am so excited to share that there are tons of different FREE printable budget worksheets out there.

Now you officially have no excuse to get started budgeting.

Related: Must Read Books For Your Debt Free Journey

Each one of these budget worksheets and budget binder kits will give you the tools you need to create your budget, set financial goals, and manage your finances. They come in a variety of formats, designs, and each has unique value.

If you don’t know what to do with these worksheets, check out The Easiest Way to Make a Budget to follow the exact steps I use to create my monthly budget.

This list of free budget printables will help you create a budget. Includes budget binders, financial goal sheets, expense tracking sheets and more. All the best budgetinging printables for beginners. #personalfinance #debtfree #money

The Ultimate List of Printable Budget Worksheets

 

Free Printable Debt Snowball Worksheet  From A Cultivated Nest

This is a great tool to help you track and pay down your debt using Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Method. This worksheet helps you track your total balance, your snowball payment and your monthly balance as you pay off debt. This is a great tool to help you stay motivated and on track for debt free living!

Monthly Budget Printables From A Day in Candiland

This bundle of 8 free budget worksheets includes a monthly budget sheet, bill payment checklist, monthly expense tracker, debt repayment plan and more!

Family Budget Printable  From the Spectacled Owl

This one page budget worksheet is an easy way to organize your monthly expenses. It includes everything you need to get started with making a monthly budget.

Budget Binder Printables From Blooming Homestead

If you want free budget binder printables that are not only functional but beautiful then these are the worksheets for you. You can choose from 3 different styles including floral, grey and yellow, and coral and navy (my favorite!). Also includes a “Month at a Glance” worksheet, which is a great way to review your goals and expenses for the month in one place!

Family Binder Budgeting Printables From Clean and Scentsible

The free budget worksheet printables from Clean and Scentsible include budget at a glance, budget overview, and a debt tracker.

Make a Budget Worksheet From the Federal Trade Commission

This budget worksheet is great because you can actually edit the .pdf and then print it out. When you enter the budget amounts it will also add up your totals for you!

3 Free Printable Budget Worksheets From the Freebie Finding Mom

The Freebie Fining Mom has created a variety of colors and formats for her budgeting printables. You can select the color you like and choose between downloading the worksheets as .pdfs or as an Excel spreadsheet (with some functions already built in).  You can also find a Christmas Shopping Budget Worksheet and an Event Planning Budget Worksheet.

Free Budget Binder From Just a Girl and Her Blog

My favorite part of this bundle of printable budget worksheets is the Financial Goals Tracker. This worksheet gives you so much space to get really specific about what goals you want to achieve and how you will achieve them.

Free Budget Worksheet From Living Well Spending Less

This is a great beginners guide to saving worksheet. This one page budget worksheet provides everything you need to get started with your monthly budget.

Monthly Budget Excel Templates From Mint.com

This resource provides you with so many different excel budget templates including daycare budget, home budget, student budget and more.

Printable Monthly Budget From My Frugal Home

This is a comprehensive printable monthly budget that nicely outlines many of the common expenditures for you. I love this, especially because as you are getting started with budgeting it’s normal to forget to include certain expenditures in your budget.

Paycheck Budget Printable From Printables by Design

These budget worksheets allow you create a budget based on your paychecks. On these worksheets you can track your expenses for each pay period to help you manage your money better.

Free Printable Budget Forms You Can Edit From The Queen of Free

If you’ve never checked out the Queen of Free you are missing out my friend. She is a great resource for getting debt free and has so much valuable information on her site. Her printable budget worksheets also do not disappoint. These .pdf worksheets can be easily edited on your computer and then printed out. I also like how she includes both short term and long term financial goals on these sheets!

Free Budget Binder From Shining Mom

This bundle of printable budget worksheets includes 8 separate sheets including monthly budget, monthly cash flow, savings log and more!

2018 Budget Binder Printables From Simply Unscripted

This is the most comprehensive budget binder printable bundle on this list. With over 20 printables, this bundle provides you with everything you need to get your financial house in order!

Free Budget Printables From Smart Money Simple Life

Another great bundle of budget printables, this set includes a financial calendar, family balance sheet, a sheet for all your account numbers, and a daily expense tracker.

Free Budget Tools From The Busy Budgeter

These are not exactly printables, but they are so good I just could not leave them off this list. Sign up for these freebies and you get access to the Ultimate Money Saving Workbook and the 90 Budget Boot Camp to help you jump start your savings and get your finances in order.

 

Are you as impressed and excited as I am? 

I’d love to hear which set of printables works best for you!

 

 

 

Check out this Ultimate List of Free budget ptintables. All the worksheets and tools you need to create a budget, manage your finances and reach your financial goals!
woman working on budget
Budgeting

The Easiest Way To Make A Monthly Budget

Do you want more money? Do you want to be stress free when it comes to your finances? Do you think making more money will solve all your financial woes?

Well friend, I’m here to tell you that no matter how much money you have, if you don’t have a plan for your money you will never have enough of it.

You will continue to feel stressed about your finances. You will continue to be frustrated every month.

By creating a budget, you can have complete control of every dollar that you earn and can make good financial decisions to help you meet your financial goals. And if at that point you decide you need more income than you know exactly how much more income you actually need.

When I first made the decision to begin budgeting I was overwhelmed. I felt like it would take so much work and would create even more stress around my finances than I already had.

Guess what? I was so wrong.

Instead, I learned that there is a sense of freedom from knowing exactly how much money is coming in and going out.

I also discovered that a budget does not mean bare bones or frugal living. Having a budget simply means having a plan for your money so you don’t end up thinking “what happened “ at the end of the month.

All it takes is 4 steps to make a monthly budget. The first budget you create will take you the most time so don’t be daunted! I also created this easy budget worksheet to help you get started!

How to create a monthly budget in 4 easy steps. Includes a free budget worksheet to help you get started. #budget #personalfinance

How To Make A Monthly Budget In 4 Easy Steps

Step 1: Write Down All Your Expenses

This list of expenses should be as complete as possible. You must go beyond just the most obvious expenses such as rent/mortgage, car payments etc. Here is a complete list of all our budget items this month. This list can and will change from month to month.

Mortgage
Car payment
Car Insurance
Cell Phones
Internet
Water
Electricity
Life Insurance
Personal Savings
Kids College Savings
RV Storage
Gas (Home)
Gas (Car)
Groceries
Prescriptions
Pet Care
Hair Cuts
Fun Money
School Tuition
Pike Pass
Dance Class Tuition
Home Upkeep

How did I come up with this list? I looked over 3 months worth of statements to see what our recurring costs were and determined which categories I should include and how much we spent on each of these categories. If you have credit card debt, or any other forms of debt write down your minimum monthly payment. 

On the Free Create A Budget Sheet, you will list your expenses details in the set of expense columns.

How to Create a Monthly Budget

Step 2: Write Down All Your Income

Write down the total amount of money you expect to receive for the month. If you have variable income, write down the lowest amount you expect to receive that month. Include all forms of income including child support etc.

Step 3: Subtract Your Total Expenses from Your Total Income

If this number is negative, you know you need to find a way to reduce your spending in some of your budget categories. In some cases it might be as simple as creating a meal plan to reduce how often you eat out. In other cases, you may need to make several adjustments to make sure you’re not in the negative.

If your total is not in the negative, give those extra dollars a job. Plan to save that extra $50, $100 or $200. Or make extra payments towards any debt that you have.

Step 4: Track Your Spending Weekly

Just creating a budget isn’t going to magically help you reach your financial goals. Sticking to it takes commitment and focus. The easiest way to stick to your budget is to track your spending each week. For our family, we sit down on Thursday evening to see what has been spent in each categories. This gives us a picture of how much money we have for the rest of the month. We also make adjustments based on our spending if necessary.

On the Free Create A Budget Sheet, you can track your weekly expenditure for each week to help you easily track your spending.

My final piece of advice is don’t fear a budget! Learning how to make a monthly budget is a skill so many people are scared of but is the most necessary tool for reaching your financial goals.

Check out all my budget resources to help you get started!

financial goal setting | financial goals | personal finance| 5 Simple Steps to Creating Financial Goals
Budgeting

5 Simple Steps to Creating Financial Goals

This week I’m sharing all about setting financial goals over on Home After Three.

Just like any other area of our lives, goal setting for your finances is an important first step to making gains and creating the life you want.

I break it down into 5 easy steps.

  1. Figure Out What Matters and Why
  2. Identify Your Time Frame
  3. Figure Out How Much Money You Have
  4. Create Actionable Steps
  5. Track Your Progress

Head on over to Home After Three to read more about each step.You’ll also find some great information about goal setting and managing your home on the Facebook group “Mom’s Time Well Spent”.

You might also be interested in The Easiest Way to Create a Monthly Budget and Must Read Getting Debt Free Books for Your Debt Free. Journey