Honestly, it took me years to find and personalize a budget that worked for me. I started trying to budget my money when I was 16 years old and had started my first job. I never really found one that worked for me until just a few years ago.
I let a lot of money slip through my fingers by not keeping track of where it was going. Maybe because we have a capitalist society where businesses are coming up with more and more clever ways to get us to absent mindedly spend our money on their products or maybe it’s just the way that money flows, but it has a tendency to wander off to other people and businesses when you’re not staying aware of your money.
There is more than one way to stay aware of your money. One way is by making conscious purchases. Thinking to yourself before you spend money:
“Does this purchase make me feel good?”
“Is this item or service needed?”
“Is it worth the amount of time I have to work to earn the money to pay for it?”
“Will this item or service help me create the life of my dreams?”
If your answer is no to the majority of those questions, you may be better off saving, investing, or spending your money elsewhere.
Another way to be aware of your money is by creating a budget.
The problems I had with budgets in the past, were:
Problem #1: I get paid weekly, but my bills are monthly and not all on the same day. I can’t just pay all my bills at once and see how much I have left over.
Solution: Divide all monthly bills by 4 and subtract from your weekly paycheck to know how much remaining you have each week. Then pay your bills when needed, and if you’re sticking to the budget, you know how much money you can spend on whatever you want each week.
Problem #2: I can’t keep track of how much I should save for my expenses that are not monthly. For example, ones that are every other month, yearly, every 6 weeks, etc. Such as car registration (yearly) or getting my hair done (every 8 weeks).
Solution: Create a list for all the expenses that are less than every month, such as yearly or twice a year. Then divide that total amount by 52 weeks and add it as a line item in your weekly expense list. That way you know your bank account will have the money needed when the expense shows up.
Below is a simple budget example I created in Excel that has been working well for me for the past three years.
It might take some time to figure out a method that works for you to budget your money, but keep trying. Each month set aside some time to enjoy a tasty beverage and evaluate how your budgeting is going. Write out the problem you’re having and get creative in figuring out how to solve it. Little by little you’ll improve your budgeting skills. One thing to remember though is, even if you haven’t figured out budgeting yet, always put a set amount or percentage of your money into a retirement account or into an investment that you can’t easily access. Like I said, for some reason if we don’t consciously pay ourselves first, there is no money left at the end to pay ourselves.