The Importance of a Budget & How to Get Started

If you're reading this, your money probably isn't right. I'm here fam. Let's talk about this. I want to see you WIN. I want to see you start a business, take a trip without maxing out your credit cards and give/donate freely. Mostly, I want to see you so financially stable, that you forget payday is tomorrow.

Let me start off by stating the obvious. I am NOT a millionaire. I'm NOT rich. What I will say is that 5-6 years ago, I wouldn't have been able to have this conversation, nor would I have wanted to. Those of you who are subscribed to my YouTube channel and follow me on social media know that I am a straight shooter, so let's get to it.

I'm going to tell you why starting a budget is important, and how to get started. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to make this a pretty process. Don't allow cutesy videos to convince you that this is easy. It's NOT. It's going to hurt. You're going to be up some nights either trying to figure out how you're going to make it, or what you were thinking living the way you are now. Nobody ever said life would be easy, but I can assure you that getting your finances in order is worth it.

Why is creating a budget so important?

Let me set the scene.... You're a single mom of 2 gorgeous children. They're 3 and 5 years old. You love them more than life itself, but kids are expensive. You get up every morning at the crack of dawn to get those babies ready for daycare and preschool. After that, you've gotta do the shuffle over to that job (or jobs!). You work 8, 9, and 10 hours to achieve someone else's dream, just to leave and pick up those gorgeous babies. Now it's the evening shuffle - feeding them, bathing them, entertaining them, and getting them down to sleep. All of this so that you can turn around and do it all again tomorrow. When payday rolls around, you don't have a plan in place, so this is how you spent your money:

Biweekly take-home income: $1,400
Paid rent: $950
Gas to get around until next paycheck: $80
Daycare until next paycheck: $150
Groceries: $100
Household necessities: $50
______________________
Leftover: $70
The immediate problems here:
  • You haven't saved any money, so you aren't prepared for next week when your car breaks down in between paychecks.
  • You didn't do anything for yourself, which is going to breed discontentment toward your place of employment. "Why do I get up and come in here everyday and can't even enjoy my coins?"

Fam, hear me when I tell you that I KNOW this song and dance. You do this twice a month, and at the end of the month, you really don't have anything to show for it. Around and around you do this every month, and you lay down at night and scroll through your timeline watching your friends take trips and go out and live their best lives. If you're pissed right now, you should be. You don't HAVE to stay like this. You don't HAVE to be in a continual state of stress.

I can give you my tips for getting started on a budget, but I can't keep you motivated. I can't FORCE you to stick to it. Only YOU can do that. 

Let's get started.....

How to get your budget started:

Yes, stickers and cute planners are great, but you are in emergency mode. In emergency mode, you should not be concerned with being cute. There will be a time to get inspired later. Right now, we're sticking with the basics. First step, you need to search the house for a notebook. Use one that the kids didn't use over the school year. If you can't find one, go to the Dollar Tree. All you need is a basic spiral/composition notebook with lines. Get you a pen. If you're the pencil-type, grab one of those. If you have a ruler laying around, grab that and a calculator. If you don't have those, you can use the calculator app on your phone. The point here is to pull together what I call a quick and dirty kit. 

Second step - on the first page, you need to list ALL of your necessary bills/expenses. For the second and third step, you are listing just the bill type and the creditor/company name. We'll get into amounts later. First, take care of your 4 walls. This includes:

Rent

Electricity/Water/Gas

Groceries

Third step - list the other bills/expenses that are necessary for you to at least maintain your current lifestyle:

Car note (if you have one)

Car Insurance

Renters/homeowners insurance

Gas

Childcare

Credit card payments (monthly minimums at this point)

Fourth step - this is your monthly expenses page. Here is where you need to include amounts. Your page should be set up to look like this:

 Bill Amount Due Date
Rent $950 7/1
Electricity $60 7/6
Water $65 7/9
Gas (Household) $50 7/10
Car Note $200 7/15
Car Insurance $100 7/17
Renters Insurance $40 7/17
Gas (Car) $150 n/a
Childcare $300 7/15
Credit Card #1 $30 7/20
Credit Card #2 $25 7/22
Groceries $200 n/a

At this point, anything outside of the above expenses are extra, and CAN be cut. If you're serious about getting a budget done so that you can get your financial life together, it'll be easy for you to cut expenses. The ultimate goal is for you to have funds leftover after paying your bills so that you can stash (save) a little bit, and to get that debt paid off.
Stay tuned for next steps.

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