Budgeting for Beginners

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Part of living luxuriously for less is budgeting and saving your money for the important things. I’m a single, 26 year old living off of my 9-5 income. I don’t have rich parents giving me money or paying my bills for me, I don’t have a huge savings account, I don’t have a husband or a joint checking account. It’s just me and my money paying for everything myself.

I see all of these bloggers and influencers with their $2,000 Louis Vuittons and $75,000 Escalades making life look so easy. And that’s great for them, I hope to have that someday. But that’s not the reality for most people. I get into the habit of comparing myself to them and what they have and it gets me really down. But, if I budget, save up, and spend my money wisely, I’ll be able to buy those expensive bags and cars someday!

I used to be terrible at budgeting!! I’ve always been paid bi weekly and all of my bills were due at the beginning of each month. So that entire first-of-the-month paycheck would go to bills and I would be left with $0 in my account until the 15th…. Not a good system!!! So, I started scheduling all of the bill payments that I could to happen in the latter half of the month, with my second-of-the-month paycheck. So this is what my billing schedule looks like:

I also bought a Monthly Budget Planner off of Amazon so I could start keeping track of all my expenses. I think it’s the same thing as keeping a food diary; when you write down everything that you eat, you start to eat less and you’ll lose weight. Well if you write down every purchase you make, you start to spend less! I kept this book at work with me and every morning I would pull up my Chase app and write down every cent that came out of my checking account. Then at the end of the month I would categorize every purchase and see where I spent most of my money.

I also had to make myself a budget for my non-negotiable expenses (groceries, pet food, toiletries, gas, prescriptions, etc.). I sat down and figured out how much I’m allowed to spend at the grocery store; how much my dog’s pet food costs and how often I buy more food; how much it costs to fill up my gas tank and how often I get gas; how much my monthly prescriptions cost, etc. All of those things that aren’t technically bills, but that I still need in order to survive. Then I add those numbers to the total rent/bill cost, subtract that from my total monthly income, and what I have left goes to restaurants, beauty (nails did/hair did), shopping, entertainment, etc.

This is called Zero-Based Budgeting. This method is perfect for me because I would rather have that leftover money each month going into my savings account or towards paying off a bill. Some months I’ll have a few hundred to go to my savings and other months I’ll have a lot of unforeseen expenses or I’ll hit T.J. Maxx a little too hard and I’ll only have $20-$30. But some money is better than none! Trust me you’ll be thanking me when you get a blowout on the highway and need an extra $300 for a tow and new rim… Been there, done that! And at the end of the month, everything that I don’t spend gets put into my savings account!

But of course, not everyone has the same expenses or the same pay schedule. You just have to figure out what works best for you and you have to be disciplined. It’s better to sit down at the beginning of each month and plan out exactly how much you’re allowed to spend and on what. Anything that doesn’t fit into the budget, either doesn’t get purchased, or you can start saving up to buy it in the future.

Here is a breakdown of how to budget for beginners:

  1. Calculate your monthly bill total – rent, electric bill, car payment, insurance, HOA fees, membership fees, student loan payment, credit card payment, wifi/cable, toll bills, etc.
  2. Calculate your non-negotiable expenses budget – groceries, gas, pet food/care, toilet paper, toothpaste, contact solution, prescriptions
  3. Add your monthly bills total + your non-negotiable expenses budget
  4. Subtract that number from your total monthly income
  5. The remaining amount is the amount that you are allowed to spend on shopping, eating out at restaurants/fast food, at the salon, and entertainment
  6. Keep a budgeting book so you can track what you are spending and what you are spending it on
  7. All of the money that you have leftover at the end of each month, put that money into your savings account or use it towards paying off a bill!

I really hope that this budgeting for beginners guide is helpful and will help everyone save up money to pay off any debts, buy something on your wishlist, or take an extravagant vacation! I still haven’t decided what I want to spend mine on yet 😉


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