I’d like to start this off by saying something very important – I am not a budget expert (hence the Dumb and Dumber reference in my first post). I’m just your average, everyday working mom who is trying to fit all of the puzzle pieces of life together – including a family budget.
Budget. Eh, it’s kind of awful thought, right? But are budgets really all that evil? Essentially a budget is just a plan to get out of debt, and we could all use that right? In 2017 Let’s Make A Plan to slay the debt monster. To do that you’re going to need a budget to tell you how much you’re bringing in versus how much you’re spending each month.
You might be saying to yourself “This is all fine and dandy, but I can keep track of all of this in my head, I don’t need a system.” Believe me, you do. You might try to keep it all in your head, but it’s nearly impossible to be successful that way. Yes, it’s going to take a little bit of work on the front end to get a system in place, but in the end it’ll be worth it.
Step 1: Gather your Info
- Know how much money comes into your house each month. (Income)
- Know how much money goes out each month. (Expenses)
I find that it helps to keep all of our bills in one place in the house and for us it’s in a little plastic tub in the kitchen. Any time a bill gets delivered it goes straight into our bill holder. Then when it’s time to the pay bills I can go into the kitchen, grab the bill holder and quickly get to work.
Once you’ve gathered your paystubs and bills you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Choose a Medium
Rodger and I keep track of our income and expenses using our online accounts and a budgeting spreadsheet that I created on Google Docs. There a ton of apps, websites, and budgeting software solutions available online, but here are a few reasons that this system works for us.
- It’s easy. If you aren’t sure how to use Google Docs there are ton of online resources. If you’re really lost, just ask the nearest elementary student to help you. (Seriously, kids in the 1st and 2nd grade are already putting together spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations about which dogs are the cutest. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was in my early 30’s before I started using Google Docs.)
- It’s online. Meaning our accounts and budget are accessible 24/7 from our smartphones, which is helpful because we’re almost never home (i.e. we have kids and said kids are involved in… everything).
- It’s FREE. Which is the obvious preference, right?
Once you’ve gathered all of your information and chosen a medium to track your income and expenses you’re on your way. It doesn’t really matter how you go about it. What matters is that you Make a Plan and do it. And that you stick to it.
If you need help, email or call us and we’d be happy to sit down with you to come up with a plan to help you reach your goals. That’s why 1st Financial Federal Credit Union exists! Click HERE if you want to learn more about who we are and why we do what we do.
Join me next time, and I’ll share a bit more about building a budget spreadsheet and giving your money specific jobs.
Until the next time,