Have you ever checked your bank account to see if you have “enough money”? If so, then you need a budget.
How much you spend isn’t something you want to guess, because you want to know exactly how much you have and where it’s going. Yes checking is quick and simple, but if you have a budget in place then you don’t need to, you know you have the money to pay your bills.
Without a budget, you feel regret almost as soon as the money is gone: you have no idea if you have money in your account, no idea if you will be able to pay needed expenses because of today's splurge
Budgets also keep marriages together. If you and your spouse differ on what to spend on then you need to have an open conversation about what’s really important for you both. If you both agree to spend money on something then when that money is spent it won’t lead to an argument. (Hopefully)
3 Budgeting Systems That Work
#1 – Envelope Method
You put physical cash into envelopes stating what each envelope is for. For rent, it says “rent”, groceries “groceries, etc. If you run out of money in one category and want/need to spend more you have to remove it from one envelope. Meaning that if you overspend in groceries and take the money from the rent you won’t be able to pay rent without taking the money from somewhere else.
#2 – Zero Based Budget
Your goal is to get your account to $0.00. Kind of. You budget everything out and if at the end of the month you know that you have no more bills and there is $300 left over (or even $5) then you have to spend that money.
Now that doesn’t mean go out and party (with the $300 not the $5) but instead make an extra debt payment, or invest more. Basically, any money that doesn’t have a purpose needs to be given a purpose.
#3 – 50-20-30 Rule
- 50% – Living expenses rent, utilities, groceries, travel to work, etc.
- 20% – Financial goals like savings, investing or paying off debt.
- 30% – All unnecessary things like going out to eat, traveling, or going to the movies.
Real Life Budgeting Examples
Here are four bloggers that actually show you their budget every month, not just what they should have spent but what they ACTUALLY spent. It's so refreshing to be able to have these examples
The Frugalwoods spent $2,941.75 for the month of December, one of the most expensive months for most people. Almost half their mortgage ($1,392.86) and $375.36 Christmas related.
Joe’s family spent $4,144 in November with over half being housing and gives himself a “cash allowance to spend on miscellaneous things.
Crystal spends $5,670 every month, the highest of budgeting examples. Being completely self-employed she budgets for income tax ($1,000 a month) but still leaves room in the budget for entertainment, “splurging out”, and miscellaneous. Meaning she can spend money there and not feel bad, or wonder if “it’s in the budget”
Jason keeps his expenses low compared to most people. In December (an expensive month) he spent just $1,071 on personal expenses.
Though most couldn’t live on $1,000 in a month, some spend more each week, it doesn’t mean that Jason is missing out at all. He lives a satisfying life, doing what he wants when he wants and is happy.
How Do These Real Life Budgeting Examples Benefit Us?
Your lifestyle is up to you. Jason who spends around $1,000 is just as happy as Crystal is spending almost $6,000. Neither one lacks or wants something the other has. Having a budget and following it doesn’t make any of these bloggers unhappy. Because they budgeted properly they know how much they're going to spend next month and this month. It actually simplifies their lives rather than complicates them.
Don’t let your money control you, experience the joy those from our budgeting examples have. They enjoy the freedom of knowing where their money is, what they can buy when they can spend money, and when they can’t. You can have the same if you budget your money.