It’s time to talk about the b word.
It can be a huge bitch. BUT, it doesn’t have to be.
My parents taught me from a young age that saving money was extremely important. Before I was old enough to work, my sister and I would save our money all summer long with lemonade stands and household chores. Our parents even payed us for reading books. Needless to say, we have pretty cool parents.
By the end of the summer, they would double what we had saved and take us to the outlet mall so we could buy ourselves new school clothes for the coming year. Then a few years after that, they decided to double any amount of money I put into a savings account.
At the time, I had no idea how awesome that was.
Five years after moving away from home, the $10,000 I had in savings has gone down to about $1,500. Currently I have $1,000 in credit card debt and a $31,000 car loan.
Sometime in January I sat down and wrote out my budget from February until May. Here’s what my February budget looked like vs what actually happened.
This is my real budget and exactly how much I made and spent in February of 2019.
|$1,369.05 paycheck 1||$894.22 left from January|
|$1,369.05 paycheck 2||$1,369.05 paycheck 1|
|– $200 weekly spending money||$1,369.05 paycheck 2|
|– $800 rent||$250 sold massage table|
|– $75 internet||$100 bday money|
|– $288.37 propane||– $800 rent|
|– $577 car payment||–$75 internet|
|– $125 car insurance||–$288.37 propane|
|– $577 car payment|
|Total left = $72.73||–$125 car insurance|
|–$299.32 week 1|
|– $191.35 week 2|
|–$273.72 week 3|
|–$154.62 week 4|
|Total left = $2259.65|
Charts make it suuuuper easy to see how much money is coming in vs how much money is being spent.
However, I really hate charts.
Especially the computer kind.
And so, I have a note on my phone that I write my budget in every month. At the end of the month I save that note into a separate folder and start on the next month.
I write down every. single. penny. that I spend.
It looks like this –
- recurring payments (rent, car, etc1)
- week 1 total
- week 2 total
- week 3 total
- week 4 total
Week 1 total
In trying to limit myself to $200 of spending money every week, I am way less stressed than if I give myself an $800 a month limit.
Really there’s no difference, but breaking it down week by week tricks my brain into thinking the budget is more plausible. A couple of years ago I tried the chart method. Not for me.
Something I’ve found tremendously helpful for budgeting several months in advance is writing it down.
Do you want to remember you have a budget while walking through REI searching for camping gear?
WRITE IT DOWN.
Looking at numbers on a phone or computer screen just doesn’t feel as real as writing it down in a notebook. Actually scribbling numbers and notes while making a budget solidifies it in your brain like no color coded chart can.