The Everyday Girl Guide to: Saving $200 by 2014 (Day 1- Budgeting)

August 25, 2013

Might as well start out this savings thing on the right foot.  My first assignment is to make an actual budget.  I used to be really good at these; lately, I’ve fallen off the wagon (and it shows).  Today I’m going to do a budget.

If you never done a budget before, there are plenty of guides on the internet to get you going.  You don’t need fancy software, although it’s out there.  (After all, if you’re trying to save money, why spend money on expensive software?)

Mint.com has a very simple, easy-to-use site.  I’ve also used Dave Ramsey’s free budget planner.  If you’re good with spreadsheets, you can use Excel or Google Spreadsheets.  You can even just use plain old paper.  Just pick what you’re going to use and, for now, stick to it.

Step One: Write down all your expenses.  Seriously, write down everything.  Ladies, don’t forget those pesky feminine products.  Men, unless you cut your own hair, toss in a haircut now and then.  Put it all on paper with a rough estimate of what you spend on it.

Step Two:  Group spending into categories and major expense items.  I tend to have a miscellaneous category that includes “health and beauty”.  You divide it how it makes sense to you.

Step Three:  Give each major category a percentage of your income.  Divide that money between the items underneath it.

Step Four:  You can spend too much in an item line and move money from another item line in the same category, but you cannot move money between categories unless you have an emergency/ miscellaneous category.  You can move that one around.

Step Five:  Stick to it!  It will be very hard at first, but it will get easier as it goes.  I promise.

Go do your budget.  Don’t stop until you have something that uses up all the money you make each month but doesn’t go over.  If you have a fluctuating income, try a financial site like Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial to help you budget.

Challenge:   Track all your spending this week and put it into your budget.

Ready?  Go!

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