Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to Get Started

The first thing that you need to do to start a budget is get all your numbers together.  What I mean by this is make a list of everything you spend your money on.  Like food, rent, loans, etc.  Below is a list of things that I have come up with, you can also go to Davey Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover" book in the back he has worksheets and it lists a lot of the same things and more.

Savings ____________
Emergency Fund _____
Mortgage ___________
Home Repairs ________
Electricity ____________
Water ______________
Gas ________________
Phone ______________
Cell Phone __________
Trash ______________
Cable ______________
Grocery _____________
Restaurants __________
Car payments _________
Gas/ Oil _____________
Repairs/ Tires ________
Car insurance _________
License/ Plates ________
Clothing ______________
Health Insurance _______
Copayments ______________
Dentist _____________
Prescriptions ________
Life Insurance ________
Baby-sitter ___________
Toiletries ___________
Cosmetics __________
Hair care ____________
Retirement ___________
College Fund ___________
Education/ Adult _________
School Supplies __________
Subscriptions ___________
Gifts ____________
Organization Dues ________
Entertainment ________
Vacation ____________
Credit card debt ________
Student Loans __________
Other Loans ____________

Next you need to make sure that each one of these categories is divided up into monthly payments.  Then you need to figure out which ones you need to save for.  Example, lets say that you pay your car insurance every six months well you would divide that amount by 6 and that is how much you need to put away each month to save for your car insurance.

The goal is to make sure that you have accounted for everything, now when the car insurance comes due you aren't trying to figure out how to come up with the money or have to make monthly payments which will usually make your premium more.

After you have divided everything up total it.  This is how much your family needs to survive for a month.  Now ask your self a couple of questions.  Are we making enough money?  Are you being realistic with how much you spend on food or gas?  If you aren't making enough money you either need to cut in a couple of areas or you need to figure out a way to earn some extra so you can cover your bills.

Sometimes it is hard to know exactly how much each category needs to be until you have been doing your budget for a couple of months.  You might find that you spend more or less so it is okay to change the amount budgeted.  But once you have figured out that magic number don't change it each month try to stick to it.  This will help you save more.

I want you to take your categories and classify each under one of the following: Savings, bills, and list items.  Savings would be anything that you need to save for: life insurance, car insurance, sam's club membership, monthly savings, oil changes, etc.  Bills are mortgage, utilities, loans, credit cards, cable, phone, etc.  List items are items that need several lines to list everything you bought in the month like food, gas, house hold items, clothing, children, etc.

Once you have this done you are ready to start your budget.  The next post I will give you step by step instructions on how to use my personal budget.  It is for sale in two different sizes small ($10) and large ($15).  It gives you 12 months, savings, and a yearly overview all in an excel workbook.  If this is something that doesn't work for you you can always make your own.  You can find a software program, make an excel spreadsheet, use pen and paper, or the envelope system (you just write your categories on an envelope and put your money in each one.  Once the money is gone you can't spend anything more because you don't have it.)

Remember the goal is to be successful at budgeting so do what works for you.  Sometimes starting off really simple works the best and then as you become better at budgeting you can add to it or purchase something more complex that fits your needs.

Good Luck!!!!

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