Where Did all the Money Go? Making a Budget
A budget is just a plan for your money. But as simple as this definition might be, the actual task of creating a budget might be daunting for some, yet necessary if we want to be able to go on vacation, pay off our debts or save for retirement.
When I don’t keep track of something as simple as my grocery bill, my budget is shot, and life unravels! I don’t know what it is about that section of gourmet cheeses in the grocery store that makes me lose all common sense and run up my bill mercilessly.
So, before you put pen to paper to start jotting down your income vs. expenses and making your budget plan for the year or the month, ask yourself: What is your motivation to spend less than you make? Why are you putting yourself through this rigorous exercise of self-control? Once you understand your reasons, walk in your mind to the end of the road called Budgeting and imagine where you have ended up. Then ask yourself, “how does having a few extra dollars in my savings account feel like because I stuck to my budget?” If you like the thought of freedom, then commit to make a budget and stick to it.
If you are a not a saver by nature, budgeting will not be easy for you. Those of us who like nice things and the comforts life has to offer can hardly be blamed when we run out and get the things we want or upgrade everything we have every opportunity we get. After all, we are living in a society that is continually pushing their wares on us. “What can I say? I like shoes. What is a girl to do if TJ Max has a sale on shoes?” But just like an alcoholic take it one day at a time, you too need to take it one day at a time when living on a budget. Don’t go shopping unless you need to. Don’t spend that extra money on another pair of shoes unless you have accounted for it in your budget. Find something fulfilling and productive to do instead of shopping or overspending money on leisure.
In my journey to budgeting, my husband and I have had to give up cable TV. That was hard because I really like Outlander and Better Call Saul. But I don’t think that ten years from now those shows are going to make a difference in my life, so we’ve sacrificed and found something more productive with which to fill our time. I have taken up running and volunteering at my kids’ school. I can testify that both activities are more satisfying than any show cable TV has to offer. Our family is much more united than ever. And because we're not looking at the TV, but rather at each other, my spouse and I have rekindled the spark in our marriage.
There are many budgeting tools on the Internet you can get to help you. Your bank also most likely has a budgeting feature they offer to you for free. Family Bridges teaches workshops that can help you budget wisely.
But before you download your favorite budgeting tool, think about your long-term goals, then write down your weaknesses and account for each of them in your plans. And finally, make your budget and put it on a visible spot in the house where all can see it.
A detailed plan for your income and expenses in a given period is right to have. Here's a budget sheet you can use. Don’t be scared to tell your money where to go. You got this!