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Myth: I don’t have time to work on a budget.
Truth: You don’t have time not to make a budget!
It’s the dreaded "B" word—budget. The only other word that starts with "B" that might generate more dread is the word bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, the word budget has gotten a bad rap. It’s basically just a plan. When you budget, you’re spending with purpose, before the month begins. But many people view a budget as a straightjacket that keeps them from doing what they want. Freedom and budget just don’t seem to go together.
That couldn’t be further from the truth! When you see that a budget is simply spending your money with intention, you’ll actually experience more freedom than before. Many people even say they’ve found "extra" money when they created a realistic budget and stuck with it.
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A budget is simply spending your money with intention.
Here are ten pointers for your first budget:
1. Budget to zero before the month begins. That means every dollar gets a name before you spend a dime of it.
2. If you’re married, you and your spouse need to do the budget together. Period. The preacher said " . . . and you are one." If you’re single, find someone who can act as your accountability partner.
3. Every month is different (think birthdays, vacations, car insurance, back-to-school supplies), so be sure to adjust your budget monthly.
4. As you’re budgeting, start with your most important categories first, like giving, housing, food, clothing, insurance and bills. Then, fill in the rest of your budget with your leftover cash.
6. Don’t be afraid to make budget cuts. If your budget is tight, save money by canceling cable, eating out less, and shopping at a discount grocery store. You can always rearrange things next month.
7. If pen and paper (or spreadsheets) aren’t your thing, try our free online budget tool, EveryDollar. You can make your budget and track your spending from the comfort of your smartphone! Plus, you can sync up your budget with your spouse.
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8. Use the cash envelope system for as many budget categories as it makes sense. For example, keep paying for gasoline with your debit card, but get cash out for your fun money and clothing cash. Once your envelope is empty, stop spending! It’s the ultimate accountability partner.
9. Give yourself lots of grace. It usually takes three to four months to get this whole budgeting thing down pat. It won’t be perfect the first time, or the second. But you’ll get there!
10. Be content. You have much more than you realize. Don’t compare your situation to anyone else’s. Keep moving forward and doing what’s right for your family.
Related: Learn more about contentment in Rachel Cruze’s book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs.
When you are spending your money with purpose, you’ll be on the road to changing your family tree forever! Imagine your future (and your kids’ future) without money worries. That’s the beauty of a hardworking budget.