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.
3 Steps To a Budget That Works
- Set up automatic withdrawals. Before you even touch your check, you should already have your savings tucked away. Consider placing it in an online account that requires 2-3 days before you can touch it.
- Pay your bills and necessities. We all need to eat and have a roof over our heads and some of the other amnenties of 21-century living. So, pay those.
- If there is money left over, spend on your wants. If you are noticing that you only have a little bit left over for fun, then you have a decision to make: you do adjust to that financial reality or do you create a new financial situation?
You could find ways to have cheap fun or you could look at your “necessities” and make some hard decisions. Could you get a roommate? Could you sell something that you don’t need? Could you cut cable? Could you start a side hustle? Could you move into a cheaper place or a cheaper city? Could you trade-in your car?
But the bottom line is that you will NOT be touching your savings because you budgeted for it. Touching your savings will not be an option because you are about that #savingslife.