Create a budgeting spreadsheet and help prevent student debt.
Its a term the average person avoids. And budget spreadsheets? Cue eye rolling and moaning. No one likes to be told no, and budgets have a way of doing that, if done incorrectly.
I prefer to think of budgeting as my money guide. Guides are meant to help us stay-the-course, not dictate how and where we spend our money. Guides keep us on a path. I look at my budget spreadsheet as my guide to wealthier living.
My money guide shows what bills are paid monthly, quarterly or yearly. It also allows for my savings on short and long term goals and gives me the freedom to have money to spend on what ever I choose without having shoppers’ remorse. It also helps me save for bigger items.
A money guide is actually freeing! Its being completely aware of all the money, coming in and going out on all the accounts.
Lets talk about the oh-so-boring-budgeting spreadsheets. Don’t overcomplicate it! In fact, you might find it odd I don’t have a link to a budgeting spreadsheet on my blog or a list of suggested links for budget sheets. A link to a pre-made budget sheet rarely has the uniqueness to your bills or situation, quickly over-complicating or down-right depressing.
Plus…technology for the win! Mint.com and https://www.personalcapital.com are #amazing!! Both quickly connect with bank accounts and bills, producing charts and graphs on how you spend. It doesn’t get easier then this.
If you’re old school- take a pencil to paper. (I used to be old school. Nothin’ wrong with it.) Tally up your monthly incoming money from your job and any and all side hustles you get paid for. Chances are this is relatively the same month to month if you are consistent about what you do. The next step is laying out your living expenses. Rent, car insurance, cell phone, etc. Add that up and subtract from your incoming wages. Whats left over? This is the key area! What you do with the remaining money is crucial in setting up fiscally healthy habits.
Pay yourself first! This practice of PYF is a concept I think is far too undervalued. You’ve paid the bills, now pay yourself!
Think about how hard you worked for your money. Remember that Goals Journal we had your start filling out? Take a look at your list of goals and allot some PYF money toward something in that journal, be it a percentage to savings or another goal. Need a Goals Journal? Click here to subscribe and download.
After you’ve PYF, what is remaining? I’m not going to overwhelm you with short and long term savings, IRA’s, 401k’s and a litany of other possible areas to be putting money. Most students would love to have an account for car repairs, Christmas gifts and beer money.
I have 2 thought processes for the PYF money and any potential remaining money in your budget. A) Most people don’t PYF- so if you do, high 5! How are you going to spend it? Clothes? Beer? Car repairs? B) Do you have savings? I’m not going to tell you how much you have to put in savings. I’ll sound like your mom.
Let your budget spreadsheet do the talking. Invest in your savings. “Investing in your savings is investing in yourself.” Repeat that. Set aside a number you are completely ok with tucking away. Maybe its only $10 every 2 weeks. Thats ok. You’ll be surprised how quickly the money adds up. It also can be a game on how quickly you can save an allotted amount. And voila- you’ve created a budget spreadsheet.
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An example? I used to wait tables in earlier years. Arrive at work at 4 pm and wrap up my shift between 11 and 12 midnite. OK, 7 hours on average. Say I made $200 on any given night. At an hourly rate, its roughly $28.00. I was suddenly comparing how hard I worked for that $28 an hour to what ever item I might have been conceiving of purchasing or bills I had to pay. This way of analyzing helped me walk away from many a potential purchase because I realized I worked way to hard to throw away on something of little value to me. It also became an interesting way for me to save…
I was heading to Italy to run a marathon. I needed to save money for my bills while I was gone as well as have spending money while in Italy. In my closet, I had various envelopes for each bill or goal and would tuck money into those envelopes each night after work. An interesting habit I formed was putting an odd amount of money in the envelopes. $27 in one, $17 in another, $13 in a third and so on. What I learned was, it was easier to add $13 or $23 then say 10 or 25. $10 didn’t seem like enough and $25 too much for one envelope. But what made the money seem to grow faster was if I added $13 to the $27 envelope, suddenly I had $40. It a week it was quite easy to have close to $100. And that was in one envelope!
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