I am really going to be honest with you and it may sound shameful, but I don’t keep a budget, (bad personal finance coach, bad personal finance coach) at least not in the conventional sense with spreadsheets and graphs. But best believe, a sister named Kara I. Stevens makes her monthly savings goal every month. Every month.
Let me tell you how. Instead of tracking every penny, which may not be realistic, I think about budgeting in a more conceptual way. I think like this, “By the end of the month, I want to save x-amount of dollars. Once my check comes in, I will take that amount out, and then figure out how to pay the bills and splurge.”
In other words, I put savings at the center of my budget and plan around it, not the reverse—pay and play until there is nothing to save.
Before I walk you through creating a savings-based budget, make sure you know exactly how much you bring in after taxes each pay-period and decide on a realistic percentage that you want to save. You will hear various “rules of thumb” on what you should be savings but if you are a novice, I would start with saving five percent and gradually move to saving 20-25 percent of your take home pay, once you get use to your big girl panties.