Day 8: The Rules of Budgeting

This week, we’re talking about budgets. Budgets are one of those terrible necessities in life that hurt us in the moment but make us stronger in the end. Most people who don’t use a budget hate them. Most people who have a working budget hate them, but end up loving them because they work for you in the end.

Here are a few rules of budgeting to help you keep and (more importantly) maintain a budget:

1. Be honest 
First step is to be honest with yourself on what you spend. This week, I’m going to challenge you to write down every single thing that you spend down on paper. I mean everything. The groceries you bought. The quick errand to Ulta for foundation. The gum you put in your cart at the end of your trip to Target. The $5 drinks you spent at happy hour. Write it all down in your iPhone or a journal. It will get you thinking about your everyday purchases and start the process of making a budget.

2. Be realistic
Is it really feasible to save 50% of your paycheck? For most of us, probably not. Be sure to create a realistic budget that accounts for your lifestyle and attainable goals.

3. Do it every month
In the five years that I have had a budget, I have never had two exact months the same. Some months I have friends with birthdays I have to buy for, or trips to go on, or dental expenses to take care of. Be sure to check your budget on a monthly basis and alter it where necessary. We don’t change our budget drastically each month, but there are always little categories that usually change. For example, last month we were moving — there were certainly a lot of unusual monthly expenses in that budget we needed to account for!

4 Check your bank account on a regular basis
Part of keeping a budget is knowing whether or not you’re within it. That means you need to check your online bank account or credit cards on a regular basis. I would even recommend checking it on a daily basis, especially if you are starting your budget from scratch for the first time. I check mine every few days, just to be sure everything is processed on a daily basis.

5.  Be flexible and okay with change
Don’t be discouraged if your budget fails the first month. It probably will, and that’s totally normal. When you first start managing your money, believe me, it’s really hard! You have to kind of do a trial and error to figure out which budget buckets to increase/decrease and which ones need to be altered. It took me about three months to adjust to my budget at first. And with each job I’ve gotten, it takes a couple of months to figure that out as well. When J and I first got married, our joint budget definitely needed some tweaking over time. So if you fail at first, don’t be discouraged! That’s normal!

Tomorrow I’ll share more of my experience creating my first budget. :) Hope you guys have a wonderful week!

When did you first create your budget? How long did it take for it to start to work?

This is post #8 of a 31-day series on Financial Freedom. Click here to see all of the posts. And thank you for reading!