Budgeting to Live Comfortably

How do you feel about your money every month? Is it making you happy? Do you know where it is going?  What is your money doing for you? Do you have long term goals? Are you budgeting your money?

Back when I had a single income household, money and I were not friends. Money paid the basics and there was nothing left over or to make me happy. We literally lived paycheck to paycheck and if an emergency happened I panicked.  Inevitably the final emergency happened and I filed bankruptcy.  This was embarrassing, depressing, and a wake up call. But it was also the best thing that could have happened. I learned to prioritize and re think my financial needs and goals. I learned to say “NO!” and not give in to the guilt trips.

The house was foreclosed on. I sold the majority of our belongings and moved us into a two bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood with a decent school.  It was a bit cramped but it allowed us to save money and get to know each other better.  My total housing budget went from 3000.00 a month to 1200.00 a month.  I hired the mother of one of my students to watch my toddler during the day instead of taking the toddler to a daycare.  Childcare went from $500 a month to $200 a month. I had no credit cards. The only debt I had was my car payment for my sensible, get from point a to point b safely, vehicle.  I budgeted money for car repairs, inevitable doctor and emergency room visits (toddler was accident prone), school expenses for the teenager, and an emergency/fun fund.

I continued to budget every month and make goals.  Some years I made those goals. Other years money kicked my butt. I can say though that I have memories of adventures and the kids had their needs met.

So how do you budget?  How do you make it work?

I used several different methods over the years.  For a while I used Mint.com .  It took a bit to set up and get used to entering all of my stuff. But it was well worth it. I had a clear picture of where my money was going.  After moving to another state and a different bank I could no longer use Mint.com because my bank would not allow a link between them and Mint.com.  I now use a simple excel type spreadsheet that I downloaded from Open Office.  Here I put every little thing anticipated needing for that month’s budget from shoes to birthdays. If there is anything left over in the total it goes in the savings. I have a savings account attached to my checking and I transfer a set amount each month. The savings does not get touched until after taxes every year. Then whatever is left, after taxes, is used for a large purchase or vacation.

How do I make my budgeting work?  I set my priorities. What are my basic living expenses? Where can I cut down and still be comfortable?  What do I want that is not a necessity and am I willing to pay for? Everyone’s needs and wants are different. Analyze your needs. Talk with your family about theirs. Then be willing to compromise. Happy Budgeting!



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