Budgeting for Beginners

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The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
— Henry David Thoreau

Budgeting is something that I have always found interesting and am actually in the process of setting one for myself. I thought it would be fun to share my research and findings on how to create a budget in today’s blog post. Fun fact, I started college as a finance major, while I enjoyed the classes and succeeded in them, I didn’t like the lack of creativity. So, let me state that while I am not a financial expert, I am a thorough researcher, so I hope you will find some value in the tips written.

Spending Mindset

Before getting into budgeting tips, I thought it would be best to share some thoughts on a spending mindset. After all, you need to be in the right mindset to actually stick to a budget, otherwise it will be unrealistic and unattainable. I do have to admit that it took me a while to be ready to set a budget for myself because I was in an unhappy place in my life where I thought just having something new would lift my mood. While it did make me happy for maybe a few minutes/hours, once I would see my credit card bill I was upset with myself.

Keeping up with the Joneses is not the best idea

This isn’t something that I needed to research to state, it should be common sense. However, I do know that when you see friends or random people on Instagram purchasing things you would like, it can be hard to not go out and splurge in that instant. Please remember that you can’t find happiness in material things and typically when you start getting into that spending habit, once you do purchase that item, there will be another thing you “just have to have” a few days later.

Spend within your means

This is something that I have always followed. My parents really instilled this behavior in me and I have always been very careful with my money, although there was a period over the last year to year and a half where I spent a bit more than I should have. I do want to state that I was able to pay my credit card bill every month, it just meant I wasn’t saving as much as I could have been. The last thing you should do is spend above your means, going into debt is not fun. While I was paying off my student loan it felt like I had a backpack of heavy textbooks on my shoulders and I do not wish that feeling on anyone.

Experiences are better than things

Personally, I love experiences, I would rather spend money on a trip or fun excursion than a new bag. Something that helped snap me out of my spending habits is realizing that there are so many places I would like to travel to and I need to start saving for them! I also would like to purchase a house one day and need to be saving for that. So, when I’m tempted to buy more than I need I try to make it a point to remind myself of the bigger experiences I would like to have, and it helps.

Budgeting Tips

cALCULATE YOUR EXPENSES

Before you set your budget, you need to calculate your expenses. Take some time to go through your previous month’s bills and determine how much you were spending on fixed (rent, car payments, utilities) and variable (credit card payment, groceries, entertainment, etc.) goods.

50-30-20 Plan

After calculating your after-tax income, one way to budget your money is by following the 50-30-20 plan. This means that you spend roughly 50% of your budget on necessities like groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, and insurance; no more than 30% on wants like travel, gifts, and entertainment; and at least 20% on savings and debt repayment.

Review your budget monthly

Now that you have a budget set, it is important to review and track monthly. Make sure that you hold yourself accountable and adjust where needed.

Setting a budget doesn’t have to be a scary thing, but it will help you hit long-term goals and allow you to save money for a rainy day/retirement.