Happy TUESDAY! One of my husband and I’s goals for 2018 is to keep on top of our finances because we’d love to be able to buy a house at the end of this year. Of course – that means we have to put money aside for a downpayment and make sure we are living within our means. It’s important to us that we don’t overspend during the month so we can comfortable save while still tending to our basic needs and covering any emergencies that may come up. SO – based on how Adam and I are tackling finances this year, I thought I would share what is working for us, with you. I hope you find this super helpful in keeping your spending habits on track so you can save for that big purchase, too. This is easily adaptable for single income households if you aren’t married – so adjust where necessary. 🙂 SO, here we go: Budget Basics 101: How To Rock Your Finances in 2018!
Be honest about exactly how much you are bringing in a month. Don’t overestimate this number – if anything, underestimate. For us, we know exactly what Adam brings in monthly, but my income fluctuates by month. So, we put down what we know for sure we can count on and anything extra is a bonus.
Make a list of each bill you MUST pay monthly without negotiation. These are things you have no room to budge on (we all need a roof over our heads, right?). These are the easiest to budget around because they aren’t changing month to month. I like to list mine in order of greatest number to smallest number (starting with my rent, ending with my internet bill).
This list will include things like grocery money, gas money, entertainment throughout the month. These are things that can be pinched if you need to find extra money in the budget and won’t get you kicked out of your home or apartment. Come up with a price point for each of these flexible items and stick to it. We budget out a certain amount for groceries, gas and going out so that we don’t overspend. Other things in this column could include Netflix/hulu, gym memberships (any membership for that matter), clothing budget. Anything you could comfortably live without (or with very little) or that you set the limit for yourself should go here in this category.
We try to put extra into our account each month to go towards our downpayment and emergency fund. If one of us goes to the hospital, we need to have money set aside so we aren’t scrambling to pay those bills. If we get in a car wreck or something else unexpected happens, you don’t want to be stressing about how you are going to pay those and still pay your rent. Even if you start small and only put a little bit aside each month, you can feel good knowing that fund is getting bigger for those just in case situations.
Most companies will match what you put in to a certain %, so don’t skip this! You should absolutely be putting money into a 401K or something similar so you can retire when it’s time. It’s important to plan for your future. Nobody wants to be working until they die, so make sure you speak with a financial planner about how best to make sure you and your spouse are taken care of when you get older.
One person shouldn’t be the only one looking at the bank account. That causes confusion and stress that doesn’t need to be there. Sit down and define your roles. Will one of you be in charge of paying the rent monthly? Who handles grocery money? Do you each get an “allowance” of sorts to spend on things you’d like throughout the month? These questions should be tackles prior to coming up with a budget. Nobody should have the sole burden of handling the money alone. Adam and I like to sit down together once a month and make sure we are on track with our budget.
If you are making $2500 a month, it isn’t realistic to thing you can buy a $350,000 home or spend hundreds of dollars on discretionary items throughout the month. Be honest with how much extra you have after bills are taken care of and divide it up accordingly.
This is my favorite budgeting app. I have it on my phone as well as on my computer. We hooked up all our accounts so we can see exactly how much money we have in all our accounts, and where we are spending a lot of our hard earned cash. It makes it SO EASY to see where we can cut back and how we do on our budget each month. This post is NOT sponsored by Mint – I literally just love it that much. It gives you your credit score, allows you to create easy budgets and then tracks your spending. Adam and I both have access so we can see where our money is going together.
This one is a big one for me. I like to take cash when I go grocery shopping (or any kind of shopping) and leave my cards at home. It’s so much harder for me to hand over my actually dollars, so I am sure to stick in my budget. And once my money is gone, it’s gone and I can’t spend even a penny more because I didn’t bring my cards with me!! If you are a big spender, I suggest pulling out what you are allowing yourself to spend and ditching the cards when you go out. It is the easiest way for me to weigh how much I actually need something when I am giving the cashier physical dollars.
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I hope this helps you get your finances in order for 2018! One of my goals for my life in general is to always live within my means and to always be good with my finances. I never spend more on my credit card that I need to, and I always make sure bills are paid before I spend anything extra.
Did you find this budget basics 101 course helpful? Let me know in the comments below how you plan on rocking your finances in 2018!!!
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