Updated: Oct 3, 2018
If you have issues wrapping your mind around the budget process, I wanted to share with you my top 5 steps to budgeting. These five steps helped me simplify the process and FINALLY get my finances in order.
Get your favorite mug, pour some hot tea (or a glass of wine...lol), and pull out your budget planner
Set A Routine
This step is number one and the most important because its all about developing a routine around the budget process.
I enjoy looking at my numbers so I do this every morning, but you can pick one day a week or even month that you are going to budget. It's best to make this process a part of a routine that already exists.
Every morning, I always get my mug and pour a glass of green tea because it helps me get ready to start my day. Since I complete this task every morning, it was easy to make this a trigger for spending 15 minutes with my money. Let's say you always come home in the evening, kick off your shoes and curl up on your couch with a good book.
Make that your trigger for spending 15 minutes with your budget.
Track spending and write down
It's challenging to get started with the budgeting process.
How do you know how much to put in each #budget category? How much should I spend on food? What's my clothing budget? I have found the best strategy is to look at your past spending in order to put together your current budget.
So pull your last 3 months of bank statements, look at how much you have spent on food for each of the past 3 months, and that will give you a good estimate of how much you should include in your food budget. If the number is outrageous, then try to decrease it each month by 20% until you reach your #food budget goal.
You can keep it simple and write it down or you can use a budget software like YouNeedABudget.com or EveryDollar.com.
What do you want your money to do for you?
The great thing about budgeting is that it gives you the freedom to decide what you want your money to do for you. Is your goal to save $2,000 for the vacation of your dreams? Or to put 15% of your income in retirement? Whatever the goal, you can use your budget to reach it.
Make sure you keep a list of your goals and save something each time you receive income. Even if you are only able to put $20 towards your goal each time you get paid, make sure you do it.
Your budget is your best tool next to your income to build wealth.
Make sure you follow your budget
Do a Quick Review Each Morning and Adjust if Needed
I remember my first month of budgeting. It was perfectly written in my notebook. I had each amount written down and I was excited to start my journey. Then 3 days in and my car broke down. I had to put my car in the shop and the repairs cost $300. It was completely unexpected and I didn't have it set aside in my budget. I felt like a failure.
Through this experience I learned 2 things....
1.) It takes about 3 months for your budget to start working. Don't be too hard on yourself.
2.) Things happen. You have to learn how to adjust and roll with the punches. If you planned on going to the beach and the weather forecast is 90% rain, do you still go to the beach? Of course not! It's the same with your budget. If something disrupts your plan just adjust and keep rolling with the punches.
Review and Evaluate
This is usually the step that most people miss
Creating a budget is actually only step one in the budgeting process. Most people forget that the next two steps are to review and evaluate your budget. You have to keep an eye on how you are doing and compare your planned numbers to your actual numbers. This is the best method to know if you need to adjust your plan. Keep track of what you have learned and make sure you apply your lessons to your next monthly budget.
If you want a visual for this list, and a peak into my budgeting process, make sure you check out my monthly budget setup, weekly budget setup, and budget review on YouTube.
Monthly Budget Setup: https://youtu.be/buW8jvrErGU
Weekly Budget Setup: https://youtu.be/AB-LmfdXEhg
Monthly Budget Review: https://youtu.be/FpS_OBSphH8