Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Monthly Budget

Welcome to my second post in my Thrifty Thursday series, where we will be talking about making a monthly budget. If you missed last week's post, just scroll to the bottom of this post and you'll find the link there.

Last week we talked about the important first step to budgeting, tracking your spending. This week, we're moving on to making a monthly budget.

Now, I usually make our budget using paper and pencil, but I'm sure you can find an online budget that you can fill out electronically if you prefer. Since there are so many different budget forms out there, I'm not going to tell you which one to use. Just type "budget forms" into Google and choose which one fits you best. Personally, I use Dave Ramsey's budget form that I download off his website. If you want to take a look at it, here is the link. I like it and it works for us, but like I said, feel free to search around the Internet to find one that is a good fit for you.

Once you find a form you want to use, print it off. Grab a pencil, an eraser, a calculator and all your data you have collected from your months of tracking your spending. Now it's time to buckle down and make that budget!

It's going to be hard. You will have to work the numbers and then re-work the numbers. You want to tell your money where to go. You want to know exactly where each and every dollar you make will go during the month and you want it to be realistic. If you make the plan on paper too impossible, you will never stick with it in real life.

The first couple of months are going to be a learning curve. You will mess up and that is okay. As long as you learn from your mistakes, adjust amounts in certain categories and continue on, you'll be just fine.

I like to make my budget for the next month before it actually starts. I sit down with the previous month's budget and see where we went over and what areas we need to work on. Then I usually think of events or things coming up in the month that we will need to spend money on. For example, this month we are traveling to Quebec to visit my family so we will need to budget extra for gas. Dan also needs to renew his passport, so we need to budget for that too. If you know of something coming up, budget it in. It will make it easier when you come to it if you are prepared for it.

Something else I like to do is take a look at my budget again at least once a week and see how I'm doing. I keep an ongoing Excel spreadsheet where I enter how much I have spent in each category and how much I have left. That way, you won't get to the end of the month, add up all your receipts and discover you spent an extra $100 on groceries. If you do a check up half way through the month (I recommend more often), then you will know that you will need to cut back and spend less the last 2 weeks. Get what I'm saying?

I'm going to end off there for today, since I don't want this post to be miles long. But if you have any particular questions about monthly budgeting or if I missed something important, please ask me and I will try and address it next week. I want you to understand what I'm trying to get across so that you can successfully make up your own budget!

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Thrifty Thursday Mini Series

Week 1: Tracking Your Spending
Week 2: Monthly Budget 
Week 3: Just Say No  
Week 4: Mini Emergency Fund
Week 5: Buying vs Making  
Week 6: Coupons 
Week 7: Debt
Week 8: Christmas Gifts 
Week 9: Thrift Stores 
Week 10: Finale  

6 comments:

  1. :) I like the idea of checking in on how you're doing throughout the month instead of just getting to the end of the month and realizing it didn't all work out as planned. Good tip!

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  2. Jackie - It really does help you keep your spending down, to check in often. When I first started budgeting, I would just wait until the end of the month and then get all depressed. This way though, I can see where we need to cut back!

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  3. This is the biggest thing retirees need to do too, though we never seem to talk about it. Too much focus on income and savings, when it's all about the balance with expenses.

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  4. Furry Gnome - I think budgeting is such an important step, no matter at what stage of life you're at. Learning to curb your expenses is vital to a good monthly budget.

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  5. This is all such good, simple advice, Jenn. Nice work helping others see that budgeting doesn't have to be intimidating!

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  6. Tory - Thanks! I hope that me sharing what works for us will help someone else in their journey to saving money.

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