Keeping Your Money Under Wraps With a Budget

Hey, where did you go?

Have you ever looked at your checking account and asked your money that? It’s time to cut it out. And the best way to tell your money where to go (rather than ask it where it went) is to use a budget to keep track of your money.

budget your money

No pain, no gain

Budgets don’t always seem like the most enjoyable items. But getting stuff that you want is. So if creating a budget is the quickest way to get the things you want, why do so many people cringe at the thought of creating a budget?

Most people think of budgets as something that tells them what they can’t do with their money instead of what they can. But it doesn’t have to be!

From the right perspective, a budget is something that tells you how you spend your money. When you know where your money goes, you can put some reigns on it, and control it by taking ownership over your budget.

Customize your budget for less pain

Budgets don’t have to come in one shape and size? Absolutely not! At least, they shouldn’t.

Think about it this way: if you buy a house that has a hideous coat of paint on the front, what are you going to do? Look at the house everyday and feel helpless because that’s just how the house came? Or are you going to pry open some paint cans and get to work?

The same principle applies to your budget. Look at sample budgets and customize one to work for you. Cut out parts that aren’t applicable to you. Maybe there are parts that you would like to include, like savings or investing, but you aren’t ready to include just yet. That’s okay. Cut those parts for now – but add them back in as soon as you can. Don’t get turned off by the whole process just because one or two pieces cannot be perfect right now.

And while you’re changing around your budget by cutting things out, don’t be afraid to add parts.

How to build your first budget

Begin your budget by looking at your monthly income. Be sure to include your official paycheck(s), but also money that you are frequently gifted with, and any sort of interest that you may be earning through savings accounts.

Next, look at your monthly expenses. Which bills do you have to pay? Which payments (like cable, or your cellphone) could be cut or reduced?

Then, decide how you want to save your money. Do you want to save for vacations? For birthdays or holidays? For general emergencies? It’s up to you.

 After that, list all of your everyday expenses. Gas, food, recreational activities, etc. go on this list.

Adjust to reality

When you balance everything out, are there any surprises? Are you surprised by how much money you spend at Buffalo Wild Wings? Would you rather put that money you spend on movie tickets towards a savings account?

 If you decide that you would rather move around your finances, then do so. It’s your money and it’s up to you. At the same time, maybe it makes total sense to you to put a few dollars per week toward buffalo wings instead of making an investment of some sort.

That’s okay if that’s where you are in your life. Just be sure that you know what you do with your money. And if you’re not happy with your money’s destination, then change it for your next paycheck. Take control of your financial life using budgets. Customize yours so that it meets your needs and wants, and so that it makes sense to you. After all, it’s your budget.

14 thoughts on “Keeping Your Money Under Wraps With a Budget

  1. Diego says:

    I think the best way to save money is having a cash-only lifestyle. Credit card is a just a plastic, so the debt will be in the future and we don’t worry in the buy moment. But when paying with cash, it impacts inmediately in our current budget, so we will have more prudence.

    • I tried to use Mint, but I find I feel a lot more comfortable with a spreadsheet budget that does the math in formulas. Once we have a positive net worth I think Mint will be a lot more fun to track 😉

  2. One of our biggest mistakes was not tracking our spending which caused us to overspend and go deeper into debt. I thought doing a budget would be too much work and not enough fun. It’s actually not that bad and almost enjoyable because now things are under control.

  3. Kay@Green Money Stream says:

    I’m a true believer in tracking spending. As you point out, you will be surprised at how much you spend in certain categories.

  4. I used to ask that question all the time……until we decided to go to a mostly cash spending method. We take cash out for our different expenditures (mostly entertainment and “base living” expenses). It’s pretty easy to know where your money went when you break it down and track your spending!

  5. I have learned that the most important thing is adjusting your budget accordingly each month. It will always be changing. It’s not a set it and forget it sort of thing. Great tips on budgeting!

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