Following a budget has always been a foreign concept to me. My parents never instilled good money management skills in me when I was growing up, and even after I left the nest at 23, I didn’t bother to teach myself about budgeting. That’s all going to change, though. Now that I have a job, I’m going to be able to start paying off my debt and build an emergency fund. That all starts with budgeting.
I first tried getting the hang of budgeting in 2012, but I went about it wrong. I had started tracking everything I spent and recorded the totals by category (food, gas, etc.) every month, but I wasn’t putting a limit on how much I could spend in each category. Here’s an example of my old budgeting style:
For the last month, I’ve been playing around with my budget and making some changes. I’m still good about tracking everything I spend. Now I want to get good about recording what I spend every week and making sure I don’t go over the limits I’ve set for myself. Here’s an example of my new budget template (courtesy of Blonde on a Budget) that I’ve been using for the month of January and will continue to use because it’s awesome!
As you can see, I’ve not only set spending limits for each category, but I’ve become more specific with each category. I’ve also added my monthly bills as categories, and gotten rid of the unnecessary ones (e.g. coffee shops). It’s still a work in progress, but so far, I like where it’s going. Once I start getting paychecks from my job and figure out how much I’ll be making each month, I’ll adjust the numbers and add a SAVINGS category (10% of each paycheck).
I know budgeting isn’t something to get excited about, but I’m excited. I think that obsessively tracking everything I spend, setting spending limits, and making sure I don’t go over those limits is really going to help me keep track of where my money is going each month. And most importantly, making sure my extra money is going toward my debt and savings!
Do you use a budget at all? Do you obsessively track your finances? Do you have any budgeting advice for a newbie like me?