Yeah! You’ve looked up budgeting online. You’re ready to get started. A Life on a Dime is here to help! This section and the pages falling under the Budget category will help you get started. It’s time to get your budget on!
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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!
I like to use EveryDollar; it’s free if not connected to your bank account and very easy to use. It even starts you out with recommended budget categories.
If you like budgeting on paper and are a fan of journaling something like the Budget Bundle from Erin Condren may be great for you.
I recently reviewed this product and it served as the prize in a blog giveaway. You can click the pop-up window or the button on the right to subscribe to the blog.
*Search by Category on the Site to See all Budgeting Posts!*
You don’t have to spend money to track your expenses, but you do need a method you can stick with for the long haul. It may take time to find your preferred tracking method. That’s okay! I started out on Excel, moved to computer software before I settled on EveryDollar.
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.
COMMON BUDGET CATEGORIES:
- Groceries/Eating out
- Auto Expenses
- car payment
- Other debt payments, including
- credit cards
- personal loans
- Pet care – vet, food, toys, medicine
- personal property
- income – applicable for the self-employed and contractors
- emergency fund
- individual sinking funds
The above is by no means a comprehensive list. It is simply an example to get you started. You may choose to include more categories based on your specific circumstances and goals. Most budget tracking applications and workbooks will have suggested budget categories for you to use.
GET YOUR BUDGET ON BY TRACKING YOUR EXPENSES
After you’ve set your budget categories and estimated what your expenses will be, you need to track your spending for a pay period or even a full month.
If your expected expenses exceed your income, do not panic. Simply reevaluate your expenses and adjust the budget accordingly. Put off the vacation fund 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. Remember, it will take a few months to get your budget right, so don’t expect perfection from day one… The goal is progress, not perfection. But baby steps are still steps forward!
NEXT, EVALUATE YOUR TRACKED EXPENSES
If you find after tracking your expenditures for a few weeks that you spend way more than you thought eating out or on convenience foods at the grocery store can check out Meal Planning on a Dime.
On this page, you will 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 your budget is in place. That’s okay! You need to cut your expenses, increase your income, or do both.
I have helpful tips and suggestions on side hustles to help you there as well! The important thing is that you create a budget, track your expenses to see your true habits and evaluate what needs to happen next.
LET’S GET STARTED!
Congratulations, you’re now a frugal friend! You’ve decided to start on your budgeting journey! Feel free to contact me with any questions and leave a comment on posts if you want to add to the conversation. I’d love to hear from you. And be sure to sign up for the weekly newsletter; you’ll get a free weekly meal plan sent to your inbox every Monday. Plus it includes helpful advice exclusive to subscribers, enters you in fun giveaways, offers a weekly recap.
I’m also active on Instagram, Twitter, and the blog’s Facebook Page. You can find a Life on a Dime on its very own YouTube channel too! I like to break down posts, show DIYs, and have fun on the channel. Videos typically go up on Thursdays. You’ve got lots of ways to reach me, follow me, and get good information on budgeting. I also blog on minimalism and meal planning. Happy Budgeting!