This post kicks off 31 Days to Saving Money! But before we get into all sorts of good tips and tricks for saving money, I think it’s important to see where you are NOW. Do you have extra money each month? Are there areas where you could save more? Is there something specific you need to save for? Are you spending more than you make? Today we’ll start to answer those questions together.
Over the next couple of days we’ll be establishing a budget. I currently use the budget planner from A Bowl Full of Lemons, which you can purchase from her blog by clicking on the link. It has been helpful and there is a lot I like about it, but I will say that there are a lot of sections and it can be a bit complicated, so it’s up to you. I may eventually create my own budget sheets, but for starters I have created a couple of printables to get you started, and they are FREE!
First is this account record. So gather your bills (whether paper or electronic), print off as many pages of this as you think you’ll need (there’s room for 15), and start recording your accounts. This is where you’ll record not only your car payment, credit card debt and mortgage payments, but also remember utility bills, outstanding or recurring medical bills, student loans, phone/internet/cable, auto & home insurance, committed church giving, fitness memberships, etc. Basically anything that is scheduled and consistent goes here. This is not where you will figure in groceries, gas, entertainment, clothing, etc. That comes later.
Once you’ve done that and recorded all the pertinent information for each (especially monthly payment, due date and balance remaining), it’s time to look at current income and what’s left after the fixed bills are paid (printable for this is here). If your income is consistent this won’t be too hard, but if your income fluctuates it may work best to tally up your income for the year-to-date and divide by nine (since we’ve gone through nine months this year). *If you’re starting this later be sure to calculate your income per month based on the current date. (There is also an income tracker in the A Bowl Full of Lemons budget paperwork where you can log each paycheck and calculate by week and month.)
We’re off to a great start! Were you in the positive? Great! No? We have some work to do, but that’s why you’re here! At this point I’d recommend starting a binder or notebook where you can keep these sheets handy for reference and as we build our budgets. We’re going one-step-at-a-time, so the next step will come tomorrow! Remember, these posts are going to be posting in the evening (between 7:00-9:00 pm Central), not in the afternoon like I typically do. They will be coming out basically the night before, though, so technically I’ll be ahead of the game! Wow. What will that be like??
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