Everyone needs to budget, whether you have a big income or a small one, budgeting is what keeps your life in order financially.
Having a structural plan laid out of how you spend your money and how much you save, etc. can be a real lifesaver.
Without a budget, you have no plan, and without a plan, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to move forward in life in order to accomplish your goals.
How we do it:
My wife and I plan out the following month’s expenses on an excel spreadsheet where we list everything we need, the bills we need to pay as well as what we find to be most necessary to buy with the remaining money.
We split it up into three main categories: compulsory payments (bills etc.), necessities (consumables and nonconsumables), and investments.
The bills that need to be paid always come first. No further planning commences before all the bills are deducted from the total monthly pay. So for example: tax, rent, water, electricity, internet, gym fee, car payment, etc… All these are compulsory to be paid and have to be deducted first in order for you to budget successfully for the month.
If the payments for these aren’t done automatically at the end or start of the month, you can deposit it into your savings account to make sure that you don’t touch it. Then just transfer the money back into your main account when it’s time to pay the bills. Not seeing the money will help you focus on only what’s left in your main account and what has to be done with that remaining amount.
After you have deducted the total amount of your compulsory payments from your pay, then you can move on to the next step.
I like to split up the survival items into two priorities (sub-categories): important non-edible consumables, and important edible consumables
- Important nonedible consumables:
Toiletries: toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, razor blades, shaving cream, deodorant, etc… (this is so that you are still acceptable in the work area, and not be considered a bum). There are very cheap, effective and natural homemade alternatives for conditioner, shampoo, deodorant, etc. if you want to save money here as well.
other non-edible consumables include:
- Washing powder
- Gas for the gas stove (if you have a gas stove)
- Vehicle fuel/transport money (work, groceries appointments etc.)
- Important edible consumables:
Food: Everyone needs to eat healthy in order to perform optimally during the day. The way one eats differs from person to person, but for my husband and me it’s very important that we eat optimally (yet not expensive). We focus on – eliminating nutritional deficiencies, not being in a caloric deficit and eat good quality healthy food.
Our diet usually stays the same for a whole month, and then if we’re tired of the food, or feel we need to change something for our body’s demand, we change it up a bit with other healthy, affordable foods for the next month. Planning ahead with what you’re going to eat is a big game changer. I cannot stress this enough, simply thinking you’ll just eat less because you’re on a budget is not going to cut it. Design a meal plan for yourself, or if you have goals, have one designed for you – of the foods you like, and then stick to that meal plan for the month. Calculate how much of each food you would like to eat each day, and how much that would cost you, then multiply it by 30, or the days remaining until your next paycheck.
This way you’ll know you’ll be spending a certain amount of money on food and you can put that money away, so to speak, and not use it for other necessities. This will safeguard you so that you know you’ll have food to eat for that month – it’s food money, nothing more and nothing less.
For example, currently, I eat 500g beef kidney and drink 3 liters raw milk. That provides me with more than enough of all my micro- and macro-nutrients. It’s cheap and simple. This way I know if I eat less, I’ll be saving money or if I want to eat more, I’ll be ‘stealing’ my other non-food money.
In the past, I did not budget for food and was left with drinking only pea protein powder with carob powder for 2 whole weeks. The only reason I had those two ingredients was that I never used the pea protein powder in the past because it tasted so bad and the carob was a present from my grandmother.
Other examples of edible consumables might include:
- Pet food (if you have a pet)
- Drinking water
- coffee or tea
- cooking oil etc.
This includes all the things that you need for survival. Survival necessities always come first before investments.
This is where you have some extra money left, with which you are going to spend wisely. Extra money is never there just to blow. There are many things you can do with your extra money, including to save up for:
- Furniture: This is for if you need furniture or really need to replace an old damaged piece. When starting out fresh, one might not have all the money to buy all the needed furniture in the house immediately, such as a refrigerator, freezer, couch, chairs, fan, curtains, etc…
- Savings buffer: This will be your buffer when stuff go sour, for example, your car breaks, you need a new bed, something got stolen, etc…
- Future savings: One always wants to save up for a car, a better flat, a house, old age money, etc.
- Supplements: a diet alone is not sufficient to ensure optimal health so you might want to invest in extra minerals and vitamins, or you might need special supplements to help fix a certain condition.
More tips on budgeting…
Keep a record of everything & keep important slips/receipts and papers
When you buy something big, or something that can be refunded, save the slip in a folder. You never know if something is going to happen and you may need to return the item. For instance, the brand new kettle you just bought last week just decides to not work anymore.
Also, record everything you buy on an excel spreadsheet or piece of paper, so at the end of the month you can calculate and see how much you spent on toiletries for example, so that you know how much you should budget for the following month.
This is also a great way of seeing what was bought unnecessarily and where you can cut back and save for the next month.
Always over-budget. For example, when you know how much you spent on toiletries last month, add a few bucks to that amount and put it aside for that purpose. If you suddenly need something extra that you didn’t think of, then at least you budgeted for it.
This will take off some stress while going through the month.
It’s always nice to come close to the end of the month and find more money available, due to over-budgeting.
Never budget so tight that there is no place to breathe as if nothing is going to happen outside of your budget. Extra stuff always happens. There isn’t such a thing as a perfect plan, or a perfect budget. Leave some room for mistakes.
Don’t make debt
In some countries, it’s actually compulsory to make debt else you can’t buy anything. For example, if you haven’t made debt yet, you can’t rent this flat, or buy that car, etc… Well, it’s never a good idea to make debt. Debt is a hole, and the hole just gets deeper. Making a loan will end up having you pay more than double that amount over a period of time due to interest.
Also, once you have a credit card/s, it’s very easy to just buy something that’s not in the budget, because “why not, I’m already in debt, what will one extra burger or chocolate matter.”
Make budget categories
Arrange the necessities in your budget into categories, for example: toiletries, food, bills, etc.
You can also withdraw the money for certain budget categories, and then keep it in an envelope, savings, or somewhere safe, except in your wallet. So that when the time comes, you can take that money and use it for the appropriate budgeted item/s.
- It’s always a good idea to try and buy a whole month’s supply of the foods that you can, for example meat. Then you know you don’t have to worry about buying more meat again until next month, hence saving money for not having to drive to the butchery/store every week.
- Try to get as much of what you need at one place/store, that is good quality, yet not too expensive, so that you don’t have to drive around a lot.
- When going shopping plan the route that you have to drive to each destination, so that you drive the shortest possible route and don’t have to zig zag across town to buy everything you need. This way you can save on a lot of fuel and time.
- When the month is just about done and you have a little something left, deposit it into your savings account so that you can save it for a rainy day.
- Always keep a lookout for specials but ONLY for the things you need that are in your budget.
Sell unneeded stuff
Although this is not budgeting, selling stuff can be a very fast way to make a little extra money which you can put in a savings account for a rainy day, or it can be used to pay off some bills/debt. People tend to hoard things that they do not need or use, and then just rot away somewhere, whereas it can be put to much more use by selling it to someone who needs it more.
Share and tag someone whom you think needs to start budgeting 🙂