Creating a budget is essential if you want to start being more mindful about money. But where to start? I’ve got you covered with a guide to creating a budget that will help you to cut back without sacrificing the things that bring you joy.
Know the reason why
Why are you creating a budget? Do you want to save up for something special, or are you looking to pay off a debt? Whatever the reason, you need to know why you’re doing this otherwise you’ll become demotivated and won’t stick to your budget.
Find out what your current money habits are
The first thing you need to do is face the music and take a peek into what you’re currently doing with your money.
This means checking your bank account and tracking your spending for a couple of weeks to see where your money is going and any areas you can afford to cut back - you might be shocked at some of the things you find!
Write down all your outgoings and accommodate for those first
Rent, your mobile bill, broadband, gas, electricity, credit card repayments, food shopping, transport - write down every monthly expense that you absolutely have to be able to cover and how much they cost, then add them all together. Now subtract that number from your monthly income.
Hopefully what you’re left with is an amount that allows you to add to your savings account as well as some fun money. Now you’ll just need to decide how much money goes to each!
Work out your non-negotiables
A budget that’s too strict won’t work, because it will suck all the fun out of your life. it’s kind of like a diet - when you tell yourself you can’t have something, you want it more! This is also why there is no one-size fits all method for budgeting. It has to work for you.
So think about the non-negotiables - the things that bring you joy.
Many money saving websites will tell you to make your own coffee at home and give up your takeaway coffee habit, for example, but if you work from home and a trip to the coffee shop is the only human contact you have all day, or you have children and half an hour in a cafe is your only alone-time, you’re going to be miserable without it.
So decide which things you could, in theory give up, but would be unhappy without, and add a little room in your budget for them.
Get rid of things you don’t need
When you tracked your spending back at the beginning, were there any subscriptions or transactions that you don’t really use, or had forgotten about? It’s time to get rid of those.
If there are any bills or outgoings which are due for renewal or that you think you could get save money on, get in touch with your provider and see whether they can get you a better deal. Those annoying 10 minutes can be worth the extra money you get out of them.
Put your money in a separate bank account
I’ve found from experience that having all my bills go out on the same day, putting any money left over into my savings account, and then transferring myself a weekly allowance has really helped me to become more sensible with my money - after all, I can’t spend it if it isn’t in my account! Plus it’s much easier to go week by week, and it feels more manageable to “pay” yourself weekly instead of monthly.
Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s easy to see the people you follow on Instagram living it up on holiday or showing off their new designer clothes and resent the fact that you’re on a budget, or feel the temptation to break your budget.
Remember that you don’t know their financial situation - they may have been given those shoes as a birthday present, or have gone into debt to afford that trip to New York. Focus on what you’re doing instead.
I'm a financial coach helping women to to manage their money and live fulfilling, financially sustainable lives. If you're ready to take control of your money and reach your financial goals, click a button below to find out how I can help you to master your money.
I also create courses and resources to help female entrepreneurs to manage their business finances.