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…to name a few.
Spending money is fun, but keeping track of it can feel like a chore.
A Set Up for Disaster
The problem with freewheeling it with your money is you’re setting yourself up for a disaster. It may not happen right away depending on your income level and various other factors, but careless spending will catch up with you eventually.
The Consequences of Living Budget Free
Here are just a few consequences of failing to create and stick to a budget:
1) You will end up in debt. Running through your cash reserves could leave you turning to credit cards for temporary relief. Rather than finding a solution, you have created another expensive problem for yourself.
2) Life’s little surprises turn into major financial emergencies. Unexpected expenses leave you in a bind because you’ve got no savings and no cushion in your bank account to handle them.
3) Impulsive spending means lots of wasted money. Giving into your every whim means you don’t have the funds available for the thing you really want to get.
4) Your goals remain out of reach. You dream of finally owning your home someday. All you’ll ever be able to do is dream so long as you refuse to plan where your money goes.
There’s no way around it. You need a budget.
From Bread Baker to Bread Maker
Your Budget Works When You Do
Perhaps you already have a budget. That’s great, mama!
Let me ask you a question: Are you sticking to the budget?
If not, it’s time to reevaluate your system.
The “best” budget in the world will do you no good if you can’t stick to it.
Some of the excuses you may have for not keeping a budget is :
1) It’s too hard.
If your budget is too hard to stick with, make adjustments. There is nothing that says you have to keep doing your budget the same way for the rest of your life.
2) We have a very high income.
It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are: it is possible to overspend and outspend your income. Plenty of millionaires have lost everything whether due to their poor decisions or circumstances outside of their control. Don’t think it could never happen to you.
3) We’re broke.
If you are struggling or poor, you have even more reason to carefully track those hard earned dollars. Don’t believe the lie that trying to manage your money is futile.
4) Our pay is irregular.
Some budget styles won’t work for you, but it is possible to create a budget that will help you gain control over the income you have whenever it comes in.
5) My system doesn’t work.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all budget, but there are a handful of budgeting styles that can be adjusted to fit your unique situation and personality. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most popular budgeting styles so you can become better acquainted with how they work and determine which one will get your family where you want to be financially.
From Bread Baker to Bread Maker
Approach #1-Zero-Based Budgeting
This budgeting approach involves accounting for your expected income down to the penny by assigning portions of your income to various categories. The philosophy behind this approach is to have a firm grasp on your spending by planning where your money will go beforehand, thus eliminating impulsive shopping.
This method is ideal if your income is in the form of a regular paycheck and you have an idea of the average amount you will earn each time. Some find it easier to stick with this method by employing a cash-based envelope system for managing their money. Whether you decide to use envelopes or to simply track each cent being spent on each category, be mindful to allocate realistic amounts to each fund so that you can stick with your plan.
Approach #2- Percentage-Based Budgeting
A more relaxed approach to budgeting is assigning percentages of your income to three broad categories: Needs, Wants, Savings. There are various opinions regarding how much of your income should go to each category, but popular the most popular breakdown is to allocate 50% of your income towards needs, 30% towards wants, and the final 20% towards savings. You can adjust the numbers as you see fit, but it is recommended to keep your savings at 20% and to keep your wants percentage high enough that you are still able to enjoy your life.
This is a great approach whether you live on a fixed or irregular income and it can be easily incorporated into a cash system if you prefer. It is essential to get clear on what constitutes a need and what is simply a want in order to make this budgeting style work for you.
Approach #3- Goal-Based Budgeting
In this approach, you first set aside a pre-determined amount of money in savings. Next, you pay all your necessary bills. With the funds that remain, you are free to spend as you please. This is an approach that can work well to ensure that you are meeting your savings goals consistently.
Provided your expenses aren’t too high, this flexible method may work for you. If you have a lot of debt, it may be better to use an approach that more closely tracks your spending so you can better diagnose your financial health and make the necessary adjustments. If you end up spending so much money on your necessary bills and your spending that you are only left with a few dollars to spend on the extras in life, it may be hard to find the motivation you need to stick to your system.
Approach #4- Pay Yourself First
This method is a bit of a hybrid of the last two approaches I mentioned. You determine a certain portion of your income to save, typically 20%, and spend 80% of your money on everything else. The priority with this budget is saving money. The difference between this method and Goal-Based Budgeting is there is no priority placed upon covering your bills over spending on the extras.
How to Manage Your Budget: Apps vs. Traditional Tools
There are loads of budgeting apps and software on the market for money-conscious consumers who want to automate all or some of their budgeting. You may be wondering whether an app is sufficient for your budgeting needs. I personally enjoy using kanban style apps such as Trello so I can easily visualize our family’s spending and saving, but I always begin on pen and paper.
It’s All About Consistency
Believe it or not, there are dozens of budgeting methods around. How you decide to manage your budget is completely up to you. The key to picking a budgeting style is determining which system you can stick with long term with the least amount of effort. If your budget is overly complicated, it won’t be long before you abandon it — and the potential benefits —for good.
If you want to know for sure how well a certain style could work for you, why not test drive it for a month or two? Talk it over with your spouse and make a plan for your experiment. Be careful to document everything about the experience you need to make a fair evaluation when it is over. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results of trying a new budget on for size.
A True Picture of Your Financial Health
You may find as you experiment with your budget that your current financial health is less than ideal. If this happens, don’t panic! Be grateful that you finally have a clear picture of what is happening in your household.
With a few adjustments, you may be able to get yourself back on track.
If you need help finding legitimate jobs for stay at home moms, download my guide now! You can break out of the cycle of money stress and struggle all from the comfort of your home (no sleazy MLMs required!).