Growing up can be tough.
I got my first “job” at 15 years old. In order to help pay my school tuition, I worked as the aftercare attendant at school. I took care of 4 kids, age 10 and under, until their parents picked them up after they got off work.
The next year, shortly before I turned 16, I got my first real receiving-a-paycheck job at a little pizza place in Jenks. I usually had a lot of fun working there, and it made me feel big and important to have a paycheck.
HA! Maybe not. 😉
One thing I quickly learned is that money disappears right before your eyes! I didn’t have leisure money to spend on whatever I wanted, but I took care of gas for my “boat” (an old Pontiac Grand Prix), school lunches and other food… oh yeah, and school tuition. 😬
However, I also quickly learned about budgeting. Budgeting is SO important! Budgeting does so many great things…
- allows you to save money even when you don’t think you can
- gives you peace of mind knowing that #allthethings are taken care of
- keeps you accountable and responsible for the financial blessings you’ve been given
- and more!
I was looking through my old documents the other day and came across some of my budgeting tools I created in Google Spreadsheets as a teenager and single adult. I thought, “Wow! I bet some of my readers could really use some of these tools.” So, that’s what this post is all about!
I’ve got an awesome FREE budgeting tool at the end of the post if you stick with me! 😄
10 Killer Budgeting Tips
Now, it’s one thing to talk about budgeting, even sit down and create one… But it’s a whole other thing to actual follow a budget. However, if you follow some practical tips, budgeting doesn’t have to be all that difficult.
1) Make your budget reasonable.
Have you ever heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals?
Specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, timely…
One of my favorite aspects of S.M.A.R.T. goals is “reasonable”. It’s important that your goals (including budgeting) are reasonable.
For example, you may want to put $100 a month into your savings account. However, if you subtract all your bills from your paycheck and you’re left with $25 every other week, you won’t reasonably reach that goal unless you find an additional source of income.
Or, let’s say you really like Starbucks. Guilty 🙈
If you only have $25 left after bills, and you’ve still got to put gas in your vehicle, it’s unlikely you’ll swing a trip to Starbucks every week.
🎉 If you're looking for more ways to save money, be sure to check out my 5 Money Saving Tips! 🎉
So, a reasonable alternative might be to save $50 a month, or to only go to Starbucks once a month instead of once a week.
2) Don’t cut everything out all at once.
This is a huge one that I’m super guilty of.
Let’s think about this…
Have you ever started a diet of some kind? Maybe, you went on a no-sugar diet. So, you go from drinking Route 44 Dr. Peppers every other day and eating ice cream 4 times a week to no sugar.
You know what’s going to happen? You may do really well for a week or two, or maybe even a month or two if you’re ultra disciplined. But at some point, you’re going to cave, and it’s not going to be pretty. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably devour more sugar in those few moments of desperation than you would have if you simply cut back a little at a time.
So, when you’re budgeting, don’t say, “Alright. NO MORE BUYING ANYTHING.”
Because, friends, that doesn’t work. 😏
From my own study of proper budgeting, the suggested method of cutting back is 10% at a time. However, you may absolutely need to cut back more than that. Do what you must, but if at all possible, cut back on spending in increments.
Maybe you go from spending $100 a month on fast food to only $75 a month on fast food. Then the next month, you only spend $50. And so on, until you reach your desired goal.
3) Set your priorities.
Do you LOVE going out to eat with friends? Or would you rather buy a new clothing item every week?
When you’re dealing with limited funds, these are things you need to consider. How do YOU want to spend your money? What’s important to you?
Do you give tithes and/or offerings in church? If so, it’s important to set that at the top of your list so it always gets taken care of each month.
Before you create a budget, it would be wise to set aside some time to consider your priorities.
4) List out ALL your expenses.
Some expenses are obvious, like your car payment, or your school lunch bill, or your rent. But what about things like gas in your vehicle, or money for youth activities on Fridays, or a gift for an upcoming birthday?
Each month (or however often you budget), it’s wise to take time and think of all the things that will require money that month. This way, you know you’re not leaving anything out, thus coming up short for something.
5) Set your bills to autopay.
This. Is. A. Lifesaver.
I was always afraid to do this because of a survival mindset. What if the money isn’t there?!
But guess what? When you budget, you know the money will be there – even if things are tight!
So, go ahead… Log in to all the places where you have bills, or call up the companies, and get those things on autopay.
You can avoid late fees, and sometimes you even get a discount for autopay! Score!
6) Try the cash envelope system.
My husband and I did this for a couple of months earlier in the year, just to give it a try. Let me tell you – it WORKS!
One day, my husband was at Sam’s getting meat to make beef jerky. He called and asked if we needed anything. I said, “Not that I know of.”
“Oh, well I was passing by the drinks here, and didn’t know if we needed some BodyArmours or something like that.” Funny guy, huh?
I smiled. “Well, you’ve got the cash. If you want, go ahead and use $20 of it for some drinks.”
“I don’t want to do that!” He was flustered.
“Well, if you want them, you can have them. It’s just going to come out of the cash for this month.”
He sighed. “I don’t like this.”
Mission accomplished. 😂 I’ve never seen my husband second guess SO many purchases as he did while we were doing the cash envelope system! There’s just something about actually seeing the money slowly decrease from your envelope that makes you not want to spend it.
Give it a shot. 😉
7) Put something in savings every paycheck.
Eeek. I was so, so bad at this as a teenager and single person.
I always felt like I “didn’t have enough”. I thought putting something in savings meant huge amounts of money. It was scary to me.
But you know what? It doesn’t have to be huge amounts of money. It could be $5. $10. $20.
If you do that every paycheck, and don’t touch it, it will add up. Sure, putting more in at a time will cause it to add up more quickly. But something is better than nothing! Let’s look at some numbers…
Say you got your first job when you were 17. You get paid twice a month, and you put $10 in savings every time you get paid. You graduate at 18, continue working part-time while you attend college full-time, until you graduate at 22.
You know how much money you’ve saved?
Yeah, only $20 a month.
Oh? But that’s $240 a year.
That’s $1200 by the time you graduate college.
YOU SAVED OVER $1000 while you went to college and worked part-time. By doing no extra work!
8) Actually write out your budget.
There’s something about writing something down that…
- imprints it into your memory and
- makes it seem more real.
With budgeting, if you take time to sit down and list all of your income, then all of your expenses (as I suggested in #4), and even goes as far as to date each of your expenses (i.e., rent on the 1st), it creates a visual of where you’re at financially. Then, you can see where you may be able to save money or cut costs here and there.
9) Be accountable.
This is huge for anything you’re doing in life.
If there’s someone who you KNOW is going to ask you how things are going, you’re more likely to do what you’re supposed to do.
So, find someone who you can ask to keep you accountable with your money. It probably won’t be your best buddy, but maybe a parent, an older friend, your spouse, or a sibling could help you out.
Make sure it’s someone who you trust AND who you can count on to consistently ask you how your budget is doing.
10) Make adjustments as necessary.
Some people think that a budget can’t budge. (I know, bad attempt at a joke.)
SO NOT TRUE.
A budget is there to be manipulated, changed, adjusted, whenever it’s necessary! Does that mean you say, “Oops, spent over my fast food allowance, I’ll just goes change the budget so you can’t tell.” 🤭
But, if you make it through one budget cycle (whether that’s a month, two weeks, or a week), and realize that something was absolutely unrealistic or unattainable, make some adjustments that next time around.
If it’s Christmastime and you know you’ll be spending more money shopping than usual, adjust the budget so it will work. You may need to cut back in another area, but it’s totally okay, and GOOD to adjust your budget as necessary.
11) YOU GOT THIS!
Wait, what? It’s only supposed to be 10 killer budgeting tips.
This isn’t really a tip. 😉 I just want to say that you CAN budget successfully and use your financial resources wisely!
Take it from someone who’s budgeted near-to-nothing paychecks as a teenager, and now budgets a whole household’s income to help us pay down debt.
You CAN! 🎉
In addition to these 10 killer budgeting tips, I created an easy-to-use budgeting spreadsheet JUST for you!
This spreadsheet includes columns for projected amounts (your budget), as well as columns for your actual spending, then a pre-calculated space that will show you the difference from what you actually spent versus what you budgeting.
Also, there’s a pre-calculated section that shows you how much you’re budgeting, then subtracts that from your projected income, so you can see what’s left!
Don’t know what any of that means? No problem! You can always shoot me an email, and I’d be happy to help you with the spreadsheet!
Simply enter your email below and eagerly await your AWESOME spreadsheets! 🎉🎉🎉