Paycheck Chronicles

Written a Budget Yet?

I came across this post at Free From Broke today, listing 9 Excuses Why You Haven't Started a Budget Yet.  I agree that many people have used at least some of these excuses at different points in their life.  One big excuse that he missed is that many people think that they don't know how to write a budget.  I have come across a lot of people who think that writing a budget is a confusing, mysterious process that requires a certain format or method.

The amazing thing, a budget is as simple as a list of your income (which is often just one number, so that is easy) and a list of your expenses and spending.  Your expenses and spending need to be less than your income.  It's that simple.  The key is planning ahead.  A budget is planning your spending before you do it, which is why I prefer the term "spending plan."  I literally use a piece of lined school paper, or the back of something that is going to be recycled, or jot it down in my planner, depending on how organized I am trying to be.  You can find a million templates and downloads and samples online, but it doesn't have to be complicated at all.  In fact, simple is better!

My point is, don't be scared by the idea of a budget.  It is just a list of where you plan to spend your money.  Some things you don't get a choice about, like rent or auto insurance.  Some things you need but you can control the amount, such as food or entertainment.  Other items are absolutely wants:  cable television, cell phones and beer.  Work your numbers around so that you've planned to spend less than you make, and you've made a great start.

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