The Joy of Budgeting

I’ve always been a huge advocate for creating a budget. The only problem is when you’re a single mom working as a freelance writer and blogger, tracking those gig payments that come in sporadically and making poor money choices can create problems. I remember my budgets as a single mom were rarely in the green. I had a one or two year stretch where everything was pretty even, but for most of my single mom life, I spent a lot of time creating budgets that typically ended up being in the red.

BUT …

I always created a budget, even if it wasn’t in the ‘green’. I would sit down and budget each month. I would create a new plan to add more income or reduce spending. Coupons were used. Sacrifices made. I figured it out, even if that meant sometimes not paying this bill to pay the other bill. { not a good long-term plan, btw }

I can relate to all the single moms out there trying to make ends meet. I’ve been there more than once. The ends do not always meet and you’re lucky when they do {a budget can create that luck more often than not, btw}. That’s why I just had to share some information today about creating a budget because taking the time to do this and really pay close attention to money? It has changed my entire life and mindset.

Sidenote: While I am sharing this from the perspective of a couple working together, this information is helpful for anyone. 

I’m no longer a single mom, but I think that frugal penny pincher will forever live inside of me.

One thing I’ve learned is that most people don’t have a money management problem, they have a spending problem. We live in a world where it’s pushed on us to rent this, buy that, lease this, and so forth. Some people have a desire to keep up with the influencers they see online. Some people just feel they need certain things, even if they can’t afford them.

The idea of leasing or renting things that are unnecessary, such as a shed, snowmobile, vehicle, or bed, seems crazy to me. I know a vehicle is necessary so that may not be the best example, but you don’t have to buy a brand new vehicle is all I meant.

Full disclosure, we are renting-to-own a brand new bed as that was the only way to stop sleeping on an air mattress. We made that decision wisely, though, by including it in our budget and looking into the future regarding how this decision would impact us financially. The bed won the debate!

The key to figuring anything out in life and to stop spiraling downward is to find a way to manage your money.

If you can learn to control your money then you’re on the first path towards achieving some amazing goals!

Our Little Budgeting Story 

Not that long ago I wrote about us using the Ramsey Every Dollar app to help with budgeting. While I did love that app for a minute, we budget a little off-centered. The Every Dollar app makes sense for people who create a budget that works from the 1st to the last day of the month. Our budget runs more like from the 8th to the 8th, as that’s when our largest bill is due – rent. If your budget is based on a calendar month, then you should try the free Every Dollar app.

We now use a notepad. Yes, we use a pad of paper, sticky notes, and pens to create and manage our money! Call us old school, but it has worked for over 3 months. Since I get paid daily, weekly, and monthly while he gets paid weekly we have to figure out the budget a little differently than most.

You May Also Like:   Kid Friendly Worm Gelatin Cups

We sit down and take a 3-month average of my freelancer work gross income plus his monthly gross income. This gives us our monthly total income that arrives in our bank accounts each month. My 3-month average can fluctuate quite dramatically but this lower number gives us something realistic to work off of. We write down all of our expenses, we have them nailed at this point so it’s a matter of just rewriting them each month on a new sheet of paper in the notepad.

During this monthly meeting, we evaluate the income versus expenses and if there’s extra expected for the end of the month, then we either buy something we were waiting to buy or invest the funds somewhere, but the decision is made wisely at this point because we know where our finances stand!

We also put some of that extra into our savings to prepare for other goals. We typically run in the green at the end of the month, however, we’ve had some pretty close calls during our monthly budget meetings. I think one month we ended up looking like we would maybe be $80 in the red, but we were thankful that we went back into the green by the next week.

I’m truly blessed to have my residual and client income streams {it’s taken 15 years to get the residual streams steady}. I can’t stress this enough: work on building your multiple streams of income today!

Anyway, back on topic about our budget meetings …

Our monthly budget meetings give us an overall sense of what we’ll do with the funds, which account the expenses will be covered from and how we’ll handle the “extra” money during the week to week living.

We always come to an agreement on how the cash flowing into the home is spent. That’s a HUGE requirement for couples. I give, he takes. He gives, I take. Work together!

In addition to the monthly meeting, we have to sit down every week to evaluate where our money is. You see we use a 3-month average to come up with our overall financial view but some months that “average” is off-kilter. Since I make money daily, weekly, and monthly we can’t always take the 3-month average to be exact for my monthly income. We have a reason to meet weekly; my income fluctuates, but I think everyone should sit down weekly to evaluate the monthly budget to ensure it’s still on track.

Sometimes we spend money on something extra {think a coffee at the convenience store} or missed an extra fee in a bill somewhere and that can totally throw off the original monthly budget estimate.

Each week we sit down with our cup of coffee, well if it’s late in the day I have my bottle of water, and we have a meeting of the minds. We chat about our goals, we write down our current funds, bills due in the current week, and just take a good look at where we stand in the overall monthly view of our budget.

I admit weekly meetings were a bit difficult at first {for me}. When it comes to managing money, I’m overly frugal and don’t take into consideration things like; you need to have some “pocket money” each week even if you don’t spend it. This makes you feel like you have something to show after a week of work. Our weekly budget meetings have helped us develop better communication skills and respect for each other in other areas of our relationship, too. It’s pretty cool!

How Can You Start Budgeting?

Well, take our story about how we handle our monthly and weekly budget meetings. If you’re a single person out there looking to budget their income then you can do the same thing, except you’ll be meeting by yourself {play some relaxing music to calm your mind as you evaluate your budget}. Either way, you can read the above again to see how we handle the budget and then use these simple tips to get yourself on track financially.

You May Also Like:   Time Management Tips for Busy Moms
Remember, you need to be in charge of the money, not the other way around! If the money is in charge of you, then you’ll never get out of the red and into the green!

Take a deep breath! Chances are the first time you sit down to evaluate your monthly income versus expenses things won’t look so pretty. You might find that you spend more than you earn or have necessary bills to pay that simply aren’t fitting into what your income level is. This is okay. One step at a time.

You must see an overall view of your financial status before you know what to fix or do.

Now that you know where you stand with income versus expenses, it’s time to evaluate any expenses you can reduce or remove. This might mean putting funds towards a smaller debt right away to pay it off and remove it from your sheet or reducing how much you spend in another category, such as groceries. There are ways to work around a financial situation that’s upside down, but you have to get yourself in a calm state of mind to see it without emotional attachment.

Write down realistic ideas of what you can do to get your financial statement to look a little prettier, even if you only get it to 50 cents in the positive, that’s in the green!

Make a plan to stick with this budget and the financial goals you set. You can use the free Every Dollar app to get you focused and keep you committed, or you can use a notepad with sticky notes. Whatever system you feel most comfortable with, use it! if you’re not ready to tackle this alone or even together as a couple without more guidance then purchase The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. When you have a little cash to spend on it, of course!

Remember that investing in your financial freedom is worth every penny. My only advice is to make sure you’re investing wisely in the future. When it comes to money, you must remain in control of it. Do not let the fluctuation of income or expenses overwhelm you to the point you sit there crying and sad or discouraged about this.

Remember, I’ve been a single person before with three kids and I had those moments, but you just acknowledge the feeling and try again tomorrow if it’s too much today.

Just keep trying! Eventually, you’ll sit down at the table with your income versus and expenses and it will all just flow, even if you end up in the red. You’ll just feel so proud that you finally were able to sit down and do it that nothing will stop you from this moment forward!

I’m telling you that even if you start off in the red, just sitting down every week or month to evaluate and make a new goal to reduce another expense or add a side hustle for some cash will improve your mental health.

You’ll have something you’re working towards and because you are working towards this, every week and every month, something good will happen. Just as you’re ready to give up, something will shift and all of a sudden all that self-discipline and consistency will pay off for you.

Share with a Friend ...