How to Build a Budget & Stick to it
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At first, building a budget can be so annoying, frustrating, exhausting and any other word that you can think of.
But before we talk about budgeting, we have to talk about debt.
Did you know that the average American has roughly $38,000 in debt and that in 2018, out of 327.2 million people living in the United States, only 23% of them said that they have no debt?
And guess what? My husband and I are apart of this debt number, but we are not going to be for long. We have a plan, and you should too!
We listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast, we highly suggest checking him out and we follow his baby steps.
If you’re unfamiliar with what those are, here they are:
Baby Step 1: Save $1,000 in an emergency fund
Baby Step 2: Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
Baby Step 3: Save 3-6 months of expenses
Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
Baby Step 5: Save for children’s college fund
Baby Step 6: Pay off your home
Baby Step 7: Build Wealth and give
Our debt story
We are currently on Baby Step 2. Our debt is made up of car loans, personal loans and student loans. Boy, those student loans are crazy!
In the beginning of my college career, I worked hard to pay for my classes. At the time I was attending a community college and it was more affordable, which I am thankful for.
Then I attended a major university, once there it was so easy for me to check the box “Accept loan”. Even though I am so happy to have my degree, the amount of loans we have to pay off is startling.
On top of student loans, we have car loans. Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT have to have a car loan, you actually can pay for a car in cash (gasp). Dave Ramsey teaches that your cars should not be half or more than half of your household income, thankfully our cars are way less than that number.
And finally, we have personal loans. These loans were used to consolidate credit cards and to help pay our wedding. For the most part, we cash flowed our wedding but at the time I wasn’t working and we decided to take out a loan. I do not advise doing this, it’s so frustrating having to pay it back.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “In 2018 about 44.7 million Americans had student debt which amounts to $1.47 trillion”.
According to Credit Donkey, about “1/3 of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck which many of the expenses actually exceed the amount in income”.
These numbers are astonishing. But the good news is that it’s okay! It’s never too late to get back on track. The great thing about listening to Dave Ramsey is that he gives us hope. Some people will call in and do a debt free scream, others will call in explaining how they paid off thousands of dollars of debt by working hard.
My husband and I will look at each other and just say, “In a couple of years that’ll be us”. If debt is something you’re struggling with, do not lose hope. Budgeting gets you back on track and thankfully keeping a grocery shopping budget is easy once you get the hang of it.
How to Budget
Write everything down
The easiest way for us to budget is by writing everything down. You can do this with a pen and paper, which is the way I like to do it, or you can pull up an Excel spreadsheet and do it that way.
This is your budget, figure out how to do it your way.
In order for this to work, you have to assign every single dollar a purpose and make your money work for you! This is extremely important. Jacob and I go through our budget at the beginning of the month. We talk about things that’ll be happening, like birthdays and holidays, then we allocate money towards those things.
Make your budget realistic
This is SO important! Going cold turkey on anything isn’t good, you need to indulge yourself once in a while.
If you like to go to Chik-fil-a or Starbucks a lot, then first I suggest, if you’re trying to get out of debt, limit how often you go. And second, allocate money towards those things. We have money assigned to groceries, but we both know that we like a coffee or a quick snack sometimes, so we plan for that.
Do it together
If you’re married, the best way to do it is by doing it together. I can be so absent minded sometimes and honestly, my husband is the one that handles the finances. But I know he forgets things sometimes and it’s easier for him to have me to remind him of the little things and it’s better for me not to be oblivious.
Since I’m the one doing the grocery shopping, I like to know how much were allocating for food and what I have to work with.
Right now, we have been spending roughly $100-$120 on groceries every week which amounts for between $400-$500 a month. This number does not include date nights or the random trips we make to the grocery store throughout the week (that we need to limit). According to Credit Donkey, the average couple spends roughly $625 a month on groceries, so I think we’re doing fairly well.
If you’re not married/ in a relationship, do not worry! Sticking to a budget is NOT easy when you’re doing it by yourself. It’s so easy to give up and give in to spending unnecessarily. Find a friend/ family member that will help to keep you accountable. Get yourself a cheerleader, it really does help.
A cool system that we learned from listening to Dave Ramsey is the envelope system . This means that you allocate a certain amount of money for groceries and place it in an
envelope. This definitely prevents you from overspending.
We personally do not use the envelope system, we’ve never tried doing it. We just use the Every Dollar App, but people love this system.
Use Every Dollar App
Every Dollar is an app by Dave Ramsey that is absolutely amazing! It’s so easy to use and follow along. Every month, Jacob and I go through our budget and we hold each other accountable. We make sure that we both added what we spent and that our budget is realistic.
Here’s an example of our Every Dollar app:
Sticking to your budget
The moment that you will truly stick to your budget is when you are “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. That was us.
I am the worst with paying bills on time, I had everything on auto payment! But I started getting sick of never seeing my money! My husband and I make pretty good money, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be vacationing all the time.
Now, we are throwing all of our extra money towards debt. Guess what?! In just a few months we will officially be debt free! All that extra money can then go to saving for a vacation, a new car and anything else we can imagine. I am so excited! And I want you to feel the same way.
Along with writing down your budget, write your grocery shopping list, a list for target runs and any other store. This helps to not get off track and actually stick to your budget. My mind wanders so often and I get excited to see new things at the store, but those things add up quickly.
Things you should get
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My challenge to you is for you to make a budget and stick to it! Try it out and see how you like it. No amount of budget is too large, don’t worry, you can do this!
Coming up next to the blog is how to stay healthy while traveling. I cannot wait to share with you all everything that is coming! If you have any recommendations of what I should write about next please share, I want to write about what you want to read about.
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