“You must gain control over your money, or the lack of it will forever control you.” Dave Ramsey
It is time for you to stop following your money; instead, why don’t you lead it?
Keep Good Records:
There are many ways that you can keep track of your finances. You can download one of the many apps available, you can keep your receipts, you can use Google Sheets, or Excel (both have budgeting templates you can use). You can even try a cash only system! Try some of the different options and see what works best for you. But DO NOT wing it! Guesstimating and making decisions without knowing where you stand is never a good idea and can get you into some big trouble down the line!
What I found is that I like to write down all my purchases with pen and paper and do the calculations myself. I like taking the time to do it because it reminds me that just because a purchase only takes seconds to make, that doesn’t mean the repercussions only lasts for a second. I go over my finances once a week; usually on Sunday’s. By reviewing them weekly, I am able to better monitor my spending as I plan for the next week; this ensures that I do not go over my monthly budget.
After you figure out how you are going to keep track of your finances, I would set some goals. These goals will help you later on as you make your budget. You should set weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Why? Because having goals and a vision of where you want to go will allow you to stay disciplined. You might not want to give up that weekly Wednesday night steak house dinner, but when you see how giving it up will help you purchase your first house, it will be a lot easier to say no. *Balance is good, I am not trying to make you give up everything. I am just trying to remind you that you have the power and you have to choose where you are going to direct your money.
Some questions to think about:
What are your financial goals for this year? For the next 5 years? (Do not put generic things, these need to be measurable SMART goals).
What do you want your money to say about you? What are some things you can change today so that your spending habits reflect what you believe?
Example: I want my money to show that I care about others. I can do that by giving up my daily Starbucks and instead using some of that money to buy something for someone else.
I believe that everyone’s budget should be unique to them. Your budget is the road map to your goals and dreams! Be wise as you are creating it. There are many many resources online with sample budgets. Many people follow the 50/20/30 rule which is 50% on necessities (rent, gas, etc) 20% into savings (paying off debt, retirement, etc) and 30% to other (movies, dining out, gym membership). But part of the fun is figuring out what works best for you. So open a bottle of wine, do your research and get hyped about making SMART changes that are going to help you reach your goals!