Anyone can write down all of the numbers and calculate the difference of what is going out versus what’s coming in. We all know the basics of how to create a budget, the hard part is getting on a budget and sticking to it.
How to track your spending and stick to your budget is the second part of my budget for beginners series on It’s a Southern Life Y’all. We are going to pick up from our first post of the series, How to Start a Budget When You Just Don’t Know Where to Start, we covered the basics of gathering and calculating your monthly income and setting your financial goals. In this post, we will cover your spending and tips on how to make living with a budget not suck quite so much!
(This post may contain affiliate links. What does that mean to you? Well, if you click on a product and make a purchase, I may receive some compensation at NO charge to you. If you want to read the boring stuff, my full disclosure can be found here.)
To continue your plan to gain financial freedom, we need to see where your money is going. The information you gather from your total income and tracking your expenses is what will help you see where you stand financially. This will also give you all of the necessary information you need to stick to your budget in the hopes of reaching your financial goals.
Getting on a Budget and Sticking to It – It’s really not difficult!
One of the most common reasons why people don’t budget is they think it is difficult. This may be caused by not having the proper knowledge of budgets or just not knowing how to put one together.
That’s why I’ve created a simple Beginners Budget Worksheet. Be sure to grab your free downloadable copy to start your budgeting success story! It truly is the easiest way to budget.
Know What You Are Spending Your Money ON!
We need to take a good look at where your money is going. When you are setting up a budget for the first time and you start to list your expenses and take a good hard look at them; you might be surprised at where ALL of your money is going. You might be shocked when you add up your $4.75 after lunch coffee treat and see your monthly total is $95…or better yet, $1140 for the year! WOW! That’s a chunk of change that could pay off a credit card!
Let’s List Your Expenses!
Grab a pen and paper (the FREE Beginners Budget Worksheet) and let’s start listing…EVERYTHING!
Think about your regular bills like rent/mortgage, electricity, car note, insurance, etc. first. Next list your other expenses like groceries, gas, entertainment, clothing, subscriptions. Don’t leave anything out. Account for every dollar you spend…even that daily $4.75 coffee!
For some of your expenses, you will need to look back at receipts or log in to your account and average your spending
You should also add up your cash withdrawals and try to account for this money.
I’m the worst with cash in my purse! I break a bill and in nothing flat, it’s all gone without anything to show. To break this habit, I do my best to NOT carry cash and use my debit card. I’m not one to pull out my debit for a $1 drink from the convenience store so I will usually pass on the purchase.
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After you have your expenses listed and calculated, compare your total to your total income. Where do you stand? Are you having a come to Jesus moment and need to drastically adjust your spending? Bless your heart!I’ve been there and have the badge to prove it!
Sidenote…if you are wondering what BLESS YOUR HEART means. It is a southernism used to express sincere concern or sympathy or it can be used to insult someone graciously “She couldn’t bake a decent pecan pie if her life depended on it, bless her heart.” The use in this post is to express sympathy and empathy.
Tracking your spending is the most important step in getting on a budget and sticking to it!
Now that you see you need improvements and are taking the necessary steps to have a cushion and focus on your financial goals; it’s now time to discuss tips on how to make living on a budget less painful so you can learn how to stay on budget!
Tip 1 – Update Your Budget Monthly
This is crucial to hold yourself accountable for your dollars! It helps to block time for this every month. If you don’t know about time blocking, read How to Be Highly Productive Every Single Day!
Tip 2 – Reward Yourself from Time to Time
Some of us must live on a tighter spending limit than others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself from time to time.
After my household went from two incomes to one, my daughters and I had to cut out our weekly restaurant date. But we adjusted and were able to do this special treat once a month and the rest of the month was replaced with an equally as special treat. We held a weekly movie night! This was an event we cherish! We went full out with homemade desserts, the air mattress in the living room, and we piled together in our jammies! We learned it was more important to make special memories together than it was to spend $100!
Tip 3 – Create a Weekly Meal Plan and Prep your Food for the Week
This tip serves two separate purposes. The first, you will have focus when you shop for groceries ( way down in South Louisiana we say “making groceries”) and you will cut unnecessary purchases. And secondly, if you prep your lunches, you can just grab and go in the morning. This will stop the $10-$15 lunch bill and could save you up to $3600 a year!
Tip 4 – Challenge Yourself with New Goals
This one is up to you…just put your willpower to the test! Maybe try a no spend month???
Y’all! Getting on a budget and sticking to it isn’t really a bad thing. For many of us, it’s just a necessary step to teach us good spending habits. Budgets are also tools used to help us reach our financial freedom goals!
Good luck and stay strong!
Let me know about your budgeting journey below. I’d love to hear your stories! Use your budget and make some real (and inexpensive) memories!