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Yeah! You’ve looked up budgeting online. You’re ready to get started. This section and the pages falling under the Budget category will help you get started.
A budget does not have to be a complicated thing. You can write it out on a piece of paper, track it in Excel, or use a free app to track your spending and set your categories. The important thing isn’t how you budget, it’s that you do it!
Once you’ve decided how you will budget you can get started by writing your categories. List income on the top and expense categories on the bottom. Here are some common expense categories:
- Groceries/Eating out
- Auto Expenses
- car payment
- Other debt payments, including
- credit cards
- personal loans
- personal property
- income – applicable for self employed and contractors
- emergency fund
- individual sinking funds
You may choose to include more categories based on your specific circumstances and goals, but this should give you a good start. Most budget tracking applications will have suggested budget categories for you to use.
Next, Track Your Expenses
After you’ve set your budget categories and estimated what your expenses will be track your spending for a pay period or even a full month. If your expected expenses exceed your income, do not panic. You need to reevaluate your expenses. Maybe a vacation fund isn’t a good category to add until that credit card is paid off. You need food, clothing, the lights kept on, and shelter. Budget other categories after the higher priorities are accounted for.
Now, you may find after tracking your expenditures for a few weeks you spend way more than you thought eating out or on convenience foods at the grocery store. Check out the Meal Planning on a Dime pages to find tips on how to decrease your food spending. The more you understand about your current spending habits the better position you will be in to adjust them.
You may find your income is insufficient to meet your goals once you have a budget in place. You may need to drastically cut your expenses or increase your income. The important thing is that you create a budget, track your expenses for either a pay period or a month to see your true habits, and evaluate what needs to happen next.
Best wishes on starting out on your budgeting journey! Feel free to contact me with any questions and leave a comment if you want to add to the conversation. I’d love to hear from you. Happy Budgeting!