Where do you start when it comes to trying to save money?
In this post I will show you how to create a budget that will build your savings.
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Whether you are trying to get out of debt, start an emergency fund, start a new business, buy a home, or anything else, you need money to do it.
I want to start by saying that if you do not currently have any savings and find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, you are not alone. According to a study done by bankrate.com, 76% of Americans are living this way. Not knowing where they would find the money if they had an emergency and terrified they could lose their job.
Getting out of this cycle starts with being aware of your expenses and spending habits and creating a budget for yourself.
There are many different ways you can create a budget. I am going to show you what has worked for my family and the way I continue to budget every single month. I do this monthly because our paycheck comes in monthly. If you get paid more often, sit down and make a budget more often if it is helpful to you. The point is to know what you will do with every dollar before you spend it.
I highly recommend any and all of Dave Ramsey’s books on managing money. Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace are my favorite! They are straight forward, easy to read, and perfect for you no matter where you are starting in this process.
So how do you create a budget that will save you money? Here are the simple steps to get you started.
Write down how much you make every month. This needs to be EVERYTHING that comes into your bank account each month. This might vary for you from month to month, but don’t worry, you will make a new budget each month so you can focus just on this Month right now.
Write down every monthly expense you currently have; mortgage/rent, utilities, cable, internet, loans, car payments…anything you have to pay every month.
Now list everything else you pay for each month. A lot of these expenses will vary from month to month. This is one of the reasons it is so important to do this every single month. These expenses include groceries, gas, clothes, and anything else you spend money on.
Now you get to make a plan for every penny! I’m going to pretend your monthly income is $3,000 to make this step easier, but you can change it for your own purposes using the downloadable worksheet. (Sign up a time the bottom of the post to get it in your inbox!)
This is called a zero-based budget. Meaning that when you subtract your expenditures including everything you spend, give, save, invest, from what you bring in, it will equal zero.
If your expenses from step one and two are greater than your total income, you have some work to do to start. You are going to need to find some things to cut. This is the hard part. You may have to make a few sacrifices here if you really want to build your savings. If you have a large car payment, consider selling and buying something that will save you money each month. Maybe it is possible for you to share a vehicle with your spouse. My husband and I did this for the first two years of our marriage and because of the money we saved on insurance and car payments we were able to pay off my student loans completely. Or maybe you can go without internet, cable, etc. Make the sacrifice now and enjoy the benefits in the future!
Here’s an example using a $3,000 budget. (This is my actual budget for my family of 5, I didn’t show our exact income, so anything we make above $3,000 goes directly to savings/giving.)
Total income $3,000
Cell Phones $45 (here’s how we save money on phones!)
Car insurance $120
Out to Eat $60
Kids Classes $60
Extra savings this month $184
Total Left. $0
Once you have written everything out and made your plan, stick to it! If you allocate $60 for going out to eat and you have spent it, but don’t feel like cooking, cook! The easiest way I find to stick with my plan is to take out cash in the beginning of the month. Dave Ramsey often refers to this as the cash envelope system. You can decide what works best for you, but make sure you are able to keep track of what you are spending.
You will be surprised how much you save when you are aware of each dollar you spend. You will probably start seeing things you can cut out and save even more I think the first few months!
Sign up below for the PDF worksheet now and get started with your budget!