I started following Franishh a couple months ago and have really enjoyed her blog. I've been particularly drawn to her posts on budgeting and so I was super excited to see she started a "Budgeting Bloggers" linky party!
I love reading blogs that fall into three categories: Teaching, fashion, and home decor. It gets a bit frustrating at times, though, when I look at someone's cute outfit is worth about as much money as I make in a month! I'm personally much more drawn to bloggers that shop within a budget that I can relate to. I'm a single girl on a budget, so I have to make my money stretch. I honestly think I have a pretty decent income for being a teacher and I know that I'm not in a desperate situation where I'm scraping to get by. My bills get paid each month, I (usually) have money to add to my savings, and I don't have to completely deprive myself from things I like, but dropping $120 on a pencil skirt or $150 on some heels just doesn't fit within my budget!
I'm by no means a pro at budgeting or know much about financial planning, but I wanted to share with you five things that I've found work best for me in terms of budgeting. I know everyone's situation is different and it might be a very different case if I was married and there was a second income involved, but this is how I function and work with my money.
Another thing you should know is that I get paid monthly and towards the middle of the month. Getting paid more frequently would probably force me to make some changes with my budget as well.
|Give yourself some fun money for little treats!|
|Decide what you consider "essentials."|
- The first thing I do when I get paid is pay all of my bills for the month. Most companies will work with you on setting your billing cycle to accommodate your pay schedule. I have all, but one bill to work with this schedule. I do everything online (I hate writing checks!), so usually the night before payday I schedule all of my bills to be taken out within the next day or two. Payment history is important to your credit score, so this system ensures everything is paid on time! Last time I pulled my credit report it showed that I have flawless payment history!
- I try to pay extra on my bills whenever possible. I've budgeted a bit extra on payments like my car and student loans in order to pay those off a bit faster. If you have credit card debt, this is also a really good idea. I don't tack on a ton extra, but it's amazing how much an extra $20 or $30 a month helps in the long run. I also suggest making this part of your budget. It's always better to over budget than under budget. If you run into a rough month, take that extra little bit off your payment and pay the minimum. That's a much better option that not being able to even make the minimum payment. For bills that might fluctuate (like electric, gas, and water), I always budget the maximum to be sure I'm covered. It's not fun to be surprised and not be prepared.
- Evaluate how much money you have after all bills are paid and decide where the rest of the money is going. I will admit, adding to savings hasn't been as high of a priority as it should have been for me, but I'm definitely working on improving that. I'm trying to take on the mindset that adding to savings is like another bill that I have to pay... It's just being paid to myself and my savings account. Take a look at your expenses and budget out how you want the rest to be spent. I have amounts set aside for things like groceries and essentials, gas, and "fun money." For me, I struggled at first deciding what part of the budget to take things out of... To me, makeup is essential, but is that lip gloss really an essential? So, staple items like foundation and skin care come out of essentials and then fun non-necessity items come out of "fun money." (I don't have a specific budget for clothing, so for me that's "fun money." Some people have a specific clothing budget since it is an essential, but I'm pretty well covered in that area.)
- Don't beat yourself up if you blow your budget every now and then. For example, June was a super expensive month for me... I had a lot of out of the ordinary expenses come up last month. I knew it would be ahead of time and just rolled with it. On top of that, the clearance sales in the stores were amazing, so it was a great opportunity to buy some items I'd had my eye on. I know going into July that it will be a lot less expensive, which will also balance things out. Try to have some cushion for when those months roll around. To make up for it, I'm not allowing myself to by any clothing, accessories, or makeup until I go on a trip out of town at the end of the month. What's important is to remember that things happen, so don't get super upset if you don't stick to your budget every month. The problem comes if you can't pay your bills or if you end up with your budget blown more often than not.
- Find ways to stretch your money. Here's an example... One grocery store in town gives extra fuel discounts when you buy gift cards to other stores. Since I buy most of my groceries at Super Target I usually buy $100 or $150 in gift cards and then I have my grocery budget for the month and I also save money on gas! Sign up for websites like Groupon or Living Social to get offers for things in your area. Looking for discounts wherever possible doesn't make you cheap, it just makes you get more out of your hard-earned money!