Before I got married I didn’t believe in budgeting. I was the type of person that would buy whatever I wanted as long as I had the money in my account. There was a point during my freshman year of college where I had $30 to my name. My parents found out and they were not too happy with me. They added money to my account, I got a stern talk, and I went on my way.
Once I got used to how college worked I found a job and made pretty good money for a college student. I would blow my paychecks on trivial things and then would basically starve until I got paid again. This pattern continued until a year ago where I realized that I needed to be smarter about money. Needless to say I learned the hard way.
You may think that it is ridiculously hard to start a budget but in all actuality it is not. I was super lazy but when it really boiled down to it I knew it was something that needed to happen. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.
1. Live Within Your Means
Do you really need that $90 skirt from J Crew? No? I didn’t think so. Don’t buy things that are not necessities. If you are really struggling with money make sure that everything you need to survive is paid for first. This means buy your groceries, make your car payment, pay rent…all these little things before you decide to blow $200 on a sound bar that you do not need.
This may sound like common sense but this is something that a lot of people struggle with. Do not spend money that you do not have. I understand that using your card to purchase it then paying it off later may be seem appealing, but trust me once you have racked up that $900 limit and it is time to pay the piper; you will cry.
2. Understand Your Cash Flow
Know how much your paychecks are. They are typically the same thing every week. Once you get a feel for how much you are going to have to spend it will make it a lot easier. You need to figure out where all of your money is going. Most online banks will give you a breakdown of everything you are spending. By looking at this you can see what you are spending the most on. This helpful tool can help you to see where you need to cut back and where you have more wiggle room to spend.
Only after you have figured this out will you be able to splurge. Even then there are cheaper ways to splurge. Shop smarter and use your money wiser.
3. Create an Emergency Fund
Cameron is all about this. Once you know how much you need to spend and where you need to spend it, you should have a little bit left over. Every once in a while it is great to “Treat Yo’Self” but for the most part you are going to want to set up an emergency fund. You can do this by pooling it into savings or creating a separate account for this money. Putting $10 each paycheck will add up quickly. It is as simple as staying in and not going to Taco Bell.
There is a reason I call this an emergency fund. You never know when your car may break down or have a medical emergency. That is why it is called the EMERGENCY FUND. This money is meant for emergencies not for random spending. Save yourself some money and prepare for the future.
These are some really simple steps that anyone can do. I know they may seem like common sense but it is always nice to be reminded. If you really want to start budgeting these are the easiest ways to get going. Start implementing these steps and it will get easier. I promise.