10 May Be a Budgeter, Girlfriend
Be a Budgeter, Girlfriend!
When you hear the word budget, how does it make you feel? I found that no matter what branch location I managed for the bank, there was a variety of reactions from customers when discussing budgets. I find myself to be a numbers nerd and absolutely love the challenge of making my families’ ever changing needs meet what we have financially available. However, when many hear, “let’s chat about budgeting,” this is not the normal reaction.
Some people feel anxious and stressed when it comes to this topic. That’s okay. Please know you’re not alone. Let’s clear the air about this. Budgeting, my definition is: an estimate, often itemized, of expected income and expense for a given period in the future.
Before you begin to write down numbers and go through stacks of paper take a moment to write down a list of what is important to you and your family. What are some non-negotiables? The type of lifestyle you have will determine how your budget sways.
Every family is designed and functions differently. Some are soccer families needing new equipment, lodging for traveling games, and training. Some families have pets such as horses, and need to purchase hay, grain, riding lessons, and veterinary expenses. Some families lean toward music and the arts. Others love high quality food and cooking supplies. A young couple may find themselves wishing to set aside more funds to explore and check out the latest dining hot spots. That’s why you cannot compare to the person next to you. Every family’s lifestyle is different and therefore their budget will reflect that.
Now that you have an understanding and overview of what is important to you and your family let’s get in the nitty gritty. There are some expenses that are common from household to household.
Insurance- Health, Car, House, etc
Utilities- Gas, Electric, Waste, Water, Phone, etc
Many families also have student loans, health expenses, and more. Write down a list of all the must pay bills, along with the amounts, that your household has. For utilities I recommend rounding up your average bill. For expenses that vary in amount, such as electric & phone, I adjust this number quarterly with the season change. This is an example of what you may expect:
|Tithing (church offering)||$560|
|Mortgage & Escrow||$914|
|Credit Card minimum payment||$156|
Now we get to take a look at how you spend your money. Educating yourself on how much and what you’re spending your funds on is critical to maintaining a budget. Let’s start by making a list of all the items you use each month, your expenditures. We’re talking about your goods and services you use regularly on a monthly basis. I’d like to make a special note that this will be the list that gets the most editing because often what we think we spend each month is not accurate at first glance. After you begin your budget you may have to adjust these categories often to be better functional. This will also be the list that gets edited most during the creation process because not all are necessary to live by and if the funds are not there some categories may not be possible. Budgeting is all about living within your means. This is a gift not a punishment. You will have financial freedom when you know what is expected.
Remember, every household’s lifestyle is different. You may love subscription radio or a monthly girls shopping trip. Other’s want higher quality shampoo & conditioner while some prefer to have lawn care service. This list is a compliation of everything that is a consistent good or service in your life. Just start writing down your items with your most educated dollar amount. Online banking is helpful for finding out most of these details.
A special note: Some timing may not always work out. Some expenditures are every other month or so on and so forth. For example, I get my hair done every 8 weeks and it is $50. All of the males in the household total to $45 every four weeks. So if I am trying to figure out my monthly cost I would divide mine in half. So, $25 per month. I would then add that $25 to the guys’ $45. My grand total for hair is $70 per month. Here is an example of a list of expenditures:
|Health & Beauty Items||$45|
|Out to Eat||$150|
|Car Wash Subscription||$25|
|Kids’ School Expenses (lunch, field trips)||$50|
Next, we need to look at the extras we would like to financially prepare for. These may not be items we have come up monthly or even quarterly but are important to you or your family and consistently desired. Here are some examples:
|Family Vacation/Spring Break Savings||$200|
|Credit Card Pay off Extra||$100|
There is one thing to consider when making your budget. If you have debt and would like to start making progress on paying it off I highly recommend the snowball effect. All this means is you pay off the smallest debt first. Afterwards you will take the money that was being applied to that debt and apply it to the next smallest and so on. Here is a quick example:
It’s okay if your list looks completely different. Don’t worry if the size or numbers are nothing like what is pictured above. You may have hospital bills from a recent new addition to your family. Perhaps you have a car loan you want paid off early. You could have a Disney vacation that was put on credit. Whatever the case may be, with effort debt can be eliminated and here’s how. In your first list of mandatory expenses you will have all of your minimum payments but with any extra funds you have in the budget each month you will place them on the smallest debt first. Let’s see how this plays out:
Out of the list above you would start making larger payments on the Kohls Charge first. Let’s say you have $100 extra in your budget each month. Your payment to Kohl’s would be $125 (minimum payment $25 + $100 extra). Once Kohl’s is paid off you would then take those funds and add them to your Capital One minimum payment totaling $161 ($36 + $125). After that is paid off you would take that $161 and add it to your Discover card minimum payment. That new amount would be $206 ($161+$45). Lastly, once Discover is paid off you will take that $206 and add it to your Care Credit Payment of $60. So now you will be paying $266 each month to Care Credit each month until that is paid off and you will be debt free!
You’ve made your lists now how does this all come together?
How much income is coming in each month? Let’s start there. If your income varies it is best to use an average number and adjust your budget monthly as needed. This is when the adjustments may happen.
Let’s break it down. With the examples above let’s say monthly income is $5,600. This is your take home amount. Your take home is the amount you get paid after all taxes and deductions are taken out, also referred to as your net income. The amount before that is referred to as gross income. Now that we know our income we can see how it looks like with numbers applied.
Oops! In this example this family is spending $527 more than what they are taking in. This can lead to stress, debt, and frustration.
This is a very real situation for many families to find themselves in. Don’t be disheartened if you find yourself here as well. This is why you are making a budget. A lot of times what we think we spend, and our wants, out weight what we have coming in for income. So now, we need to find a way to cut costs by $527. This will be something you need to sincerely consider. Here is an example of what could be done in this example:
Grocery Budget cut to $550- savings of $50
Childcare Budget cut to $100- savings of $40
Out to Eat Budget cut to $100- savings of $50
Cancel Subscription Box- Savings of $40
Cut Savings to $100- Savings of $100
Cut Vision/Dental/Vet to $160- Savings of $40
Cut Vacation/Spring Break to $150- Savings of $50
Cut Date Night to $80- Savings of $20
Cut Paper Goods to $30- Savings of $20
Cancel Cable- Savings of $50
Cancel Netflix- Savings of $12
Change Car Wash Subscription to lower plan- Savings of $10
Cut Guys/Girls Night to $40- Savings of $10
Cut Clothing to $80- Savings $20
Cut Vehicle Gas to $425- Savings of $15
Total Saved: $527
Make sure you are using your best judgement and educated data when cutting or adding to your budget. You want to be as realistic as possible. You want to be disciplined and have a number you can be held accountable to, but you don’t want to be unreasonable and not even come close to what you budgeted. There has to be a healthy balance.
Great Job! You’re almost done making your budget!! Now that you have your list of expenses, and matched them up to your income, it’s time to organize them based on when your income is accessible. If you get paid every week you should have four lists; Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 expenses. If you get paid bi-weekly split your expenses up into two. Look at your due dates for your mandatory expenses and try to organize them by those dates. If something doesn’t fit quite right most companies are willing to adjust your due date to accompany your needs. With the example we have been using here is what a bi-weekly budget could look like:
|First Check of the Month or 4/1/19||Second check of the Month 4/15/2019|
|Girls/Guy Night $40||Savings $100|
|Vacation/Spring Break $45||Dental/Vision/Vet $160|
|Vacation/Spring Break $55|
|Credit Card Extra $100|
|Total: $2800||Total: $2800|
Wow! We’ve covered a lot! Let’s break down the steps:
- Think about your lifestyle and prioritize what is important for you and your family.
- Write a list of mandatory bills you have consistently.
- Write a list of monthly expenditures with educated dollar amounts.
- Write down your extra bills or wants that come up inconsistently but are a priority.
- Write down any debt you may have and include what you are able to spend to start the snowball effect.
- Write down your monthly income.
- Adjust your categories and make adjustments, if necessary, so your expenses and income are equal.
- Organize your expenses into your proper timeline per your families’ needs.
Voila! You’ve done it!
This will take time and effort but will allow you and your family the financial peace and security you need to get everything you are aiming for. Continue to adjust as needed but the important part is to keep trying and hold your focus. Like anything else, practice is key. Stick with it girlfriend, you got this!
Amy Mowrey is one of our long-time members. She is also the founder of The Ella Foundation nonprofit (Apple Pies!). You can often find Amy running on a treadmill, baking up a storm, hauling her sweet kiddos around, or loving on the littles here at GFFC in the childcare.