The Engineer: Budgeting
Hi Everyone! Hope you're reading this post in good spirits. This week, we're going to talk about budgeting.
Budgeting is arguably one of the hardest parts of "adulting". If you're at a point in your life where you have to start paying for things by yourself, you truly see how much things actually cost. When I got my own apartment after college and started covering all my own expenses, I knew that I needed some type of game plan in order to make sure all my bills were covered, I was clothed and fed, and I can still have some money to enjoy myself a little. I wouldn't say I have it entirely figured out (summer was an expensive season); but I think I have cultivated a few tips and tricks to get myself on a pretty solid footing and have helped me stick to my budget for the most part:
1. Know and Understand your Definite, Essential Expenses
I think a major reason why it's hard keeping a budget is that you;re not realistic with what you know you're going to spend. Factoring out your essential bills first allows you to see how much you have to spend on anything else that you choose to. Definite Expenses include:
Once you know how much you're going to spend on those things you can allocate the rest of your expenses to other things as well.
2. Create small budgets within your budget
Are you a shopaholic? Are you addicted to coffee? Do you enjoy eating out at various restaurants? Everyone has something that they will spend money on without thinking about. However, you still have other expenses you have to take care of as I mentioned in my first point. Setting money aside for your favorite things will help you enjoy the things you love while still exercising the self-control needed to maintain and stick to your budget.
3. Save. Even if it's just a little bit.
There's tons of advice on how much percentage wise you're supposed to save and all of that is really good but if you're being realistic with your budget, you may not realistically be able to save up to that amount and I'm here to tell you that it's okay. You should put some money that you can into a savings account because you'll be surprised how fast it'll add up (especially if your savings account collects interest).
4. Stay organized and monitor your spending.
Whether you keep a journal, use an excel spreadsheet, or use an app, you need to keep a record of how much you're spending and what you're spending it on. Personally, I use an app called Mint. I like this app because I create mini budgets within my total budget, see my all my transactions in one place, and see my spending trends. Seeing how much you're spending can allow you to further set realistic goals and expectations for your personal finances. Also, seeing if you went over your budget can help you figure out how to improve your own spending habits. It may be hard to look at, but everyone needs that wake up call once in awhile to help better themselves.
Ultimately, you have to figure out what works for you whether it be by using tips recommended by friends and family or through your own trial and error. What are some of your budgeting tips? -- The Engineer