A. How many of you budget? B. How many of you kind of budget? C. How many of you know know the concept of a budget and know it’s a good idea, but don’t really know how to do it with your own money and get intimidated so instead you just don’t do it at all.
And these aren’t rhetorical questions! I for real want to know! So answer below or let me know via social media!
I used to be C.
I still remember how overwhelmed I had become with my finances. I would sit down to pay bills and I would see my credit card, car, and student loan balances and my head would swirl trying to figure out where to start. How was I supposed to pay these things off? Do I just put an extra $5 on this credit card and this one and maybe this one if I think I might have the room for it? I had no idea.
And I still struggled even during my time completing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. One of the assignments early on was to create a zero-based budget. This is a core principle in the Dave Ramsey program; giving every dollar you have a mission, an assignment. It’s the way to tell your money what to do instead of it controlling you and not knowing where it went after the month.
At the time, I was at a different job, where I was hourly and paid weekly. I couldn’t wrap my head around how to make the math work and figure out the timing of paying what when and where my budget would begin each month. Failed attempt #1.
Then I quit that job and started freelancing, waitressing, and working retail. A consistent and predictable income did not exist for me. It was nearly impossible to budget! I didn’t know how much freelance work I would get, how many waitressing shifts I would be scheduled. And who knew if I would leave a shift with $13 or $113. Failed attempt #2.
But finally, I got a job in which I would be paid twice a month and it would be the same amount every time. The perfect formula for this financial novice to start budgeting! So I put my budgeting training wheels on and was going to figure this out once and for all!
Now, I am a pretty literal person. I like being exact. Estimating is not my forte and the same with math. So “ball parking” numbers makes me uncomfortable. But I gotta make it work if I want things to happen.
Alright. So I knew I was going to be paid on the 5th and 20th of each month. How was I going to line up my bills? I have rent, auto insurance, and student loans all due in the first two days of the month. I couldn’t start with my paycheck from the 5th, so I would have to use the money from the paycheck I would receive on the 20th from the month before! A-ha!
This is when I sat down with a piece of paper and listed out each item I would need money for from each paycheck. For example:
On the 5th of the month paycheck I would need money for…
- Car loan (due on the 9th)
- MasterCard (due on the 15th)
- Christmas fund
- Groceries (half of my allotted budget so I can have the other half from the next paycheck)
- Gas (same as groceries)
You get the picture.
And then on the 20th of the month I would use money for…
- Auto insurance
- Student loans
And so forth.
I wrote all this out so I could refer back to it on my “Money Mornings” because I knew I would probably forget what things to pay for when with each paycheck. I also listed the general minimums and estimated dollar amount for each item for quick reference.
Okay, so I got that laid out. Now, this is what helped me the most. The Every Dollar budgeting tool! In a past money post, I had mentioned the Mint app to possibly help you with your finances. I had said I didn’t really use it much. I just didn’t get into it, but I know others that regularly use it and find it helpful. Just wasn’t for me. The Every Dollar app, however, is for me.
I started using it as soon as I started my job in January and have used it every single month. (A half a year under my belt!) I couldn’t recommend this tool enough because of how incredibly easy and user friendly it is!
It was developed by Ramsey Solutions (Dave Ramsey’s company), so it coincides with his zero-based budgeting principal and even has some of the Baby Steps included if you would like to keep that in there.
It assists in the math (which I always need help with!) by having your income you have entered for the month at the top and as you enter in the numbers for each line item, it will update that number with how much you have left to budget. So you can play around and tinker with the numbers as you figure out your budget so you don’t have to do as much adding and subtracting on your end.
Rachel Cruze, Dave Ramsey’s daughter and also financial expert, does an amazing job at walking you through how to use the Every Dollar app! You can even see the screen as she does it!
For even more information about the Every Dollar app from Rachel, you can find it here: rachelcruze.com/everydollar
And if you are ready to take the plunge and try to make your own budget, sign up for free (unless you want the premium!) at everydollar.com!
Tip: I always implement a line item I call “Float”. It is a cushion to have in my checking account for, you know, when life happens. Like when your co-workers want to grab lunch suddenly and for other life things that you just can’t always plan for.
For real, I want to know where you are on the budgeting spectrum and please let me know if you give everydollar.com a try! I hope after this post and creating your first budget on Every Dollar, you look like and feel like this! You can do it!
With extra sprinkles (and maybe some extra dolla-dolla-hollas after making your budget) on top 😉 ,
*I was not paid for this post. This post was created from my own personal experience using the Every Dollar product.