I remember when I used to eat a cup of pineapples for dinner every night because that’s all I could afford at the time. (Pineapples were deceptively cheap back then). When I couldn’t afford anything at all I’d just go to bed earlier than planned. Ah, the joys of being a broke millennial woman. I spent a large portion of my twenties living paycheck to paycheck and it wasn’t easy. There were so many times I cried because I didn’t know where the money to pay rent would come from. If you’re reading this, you’re probably seeking answers and I’m here to help. In the broke girls’ guide to budgeting, I’m gonna break down my tips and tricks to get you out of that paycheck to paycheck life!
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
Broke Girls Guide To Budgeting
Honestly, if you want to stop living the paycheck to paycheck life, budgeting has to become a part of who you are. You need to learn how to save if you’re going to have any hopes of a financial future of freedom.
This means you won’t constantly be concerned about the bills. You’ll also find that you have more money than you’ve ever had to spare.
Here are my absolute go-to steps to get you started on your way to financial freedom.
DETERMINE YOUR MONTHLY PAYCHECK
First things first. You need to know exactly how much money you’re actually bringing in on a monthly basis. It’s funny to think that so many millennial women have absolutely no idea how much of their gross paycheck ends up in their bank account.
This budgeting system will be based on your previous month’s paycheck so the first thing you need to do is to gather your paycheck. Also gather your bank statements, credit card statements and anything else you think you will need to determine your monthly income.
To help you calculate everything, you can use a budgeting spreadsheet.
Your total income is what you will deduct your expenses from to help you see how much cash you have on hand at any one time.
TAKE NOTE OF YOUR SPENDING
Once you have completed step one, it’s time to get started on tracking your expenses. When I first started out, I didn’t understand the importance of this step and I am now learning that is the key to stop living from paycheck to paycheck.
In this guide to budgeting, expenses are an important number because it helps you to see where your money goes on a monthly basis and where spending can be cut down.
Collect all your receipts from Starbucks, supermarkets and any other stores you frequent. It’s also important to take note of your bills, and any other fixed costs such as transport fees.
When you’re first getting started it’s best to be as inclusive as you can. From experience, I know it can be quite overwhelming at first but trust me, you’ll get the hang of it.
SET MONEY GOALS
Alright, now that you’ve seen how much money you’re bringing in versus how much money you’re taking out, you can start creating money goals for yourself.
No guide to budgeting would be complete without getting you to set some goals for yourself.
As a millennial woman, I was always taught to make professional and personal goals for myself. I just never saw financial goals as being a part of that, as weird as it might sound.
When you set financial goals for yourself, it gives you the chance to think about and prioritize what’s really important to you.
Take some time and write down your financial goals. Think about what you want from life and where you see yourself in five to ten years.
Do you want to develop a healthy relationship with money? And what kind of position do you see yourself in when it comes to money and debt?
CREATE YOUR PLAN OF ACTION
You’ve seen where you are financially and you’ve thought about where you want to be in a few years.
Now it’s time to create your plan of action if you want to make the most of this guide to budgeting. I stand by the words that “A goal without a plan of action is destined to fail.”
Lots of times we think of where we want to go but don’t actually make plans to get us there. You can read more about achieving success here.
Once you’ve taken the chance to examine the figures on your paycheck side and the figures on your expenses side, what do you see?
Are there any expenses that you can cut down or eliminate completely? Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can help us to save money.
These 25 questions are a fantastic way to help you see things a bit differently.
Set a plan and stick to it. Make a conscious decision to cut back on one or two things daily until you start seeing the changes.
Make lunch at home from leftovers, skip that latte at Starbucks and try sticking to the dollar menu at McDonald’s.
Small changes can have a snowball effect.
Sometimes it's the simplest things that can help us to save the most money. Click To Tweet
Here’s your chance to see what’s working and what’s not. No budget is perfect and sometimes things in life don’t pan out the way we want.
That’s when you swing with the curve balls of life and make the changes to your budget worksheet as you see fit.
Take some time on a weekly basis to sit down and review your week’s expenses and see where you went right and what didn’t quite work out the way you’d hoped.
For me, I really try to examine what small things am I not noticing that could help me better stick to my budget.
After close examination, I realized that if I switched my bus schedules and woke up just a bit earlier, I could save another ten dollars.
This one small change on a daily basis made gave me an extra fifty dollars a week.
The same could happen to you. As you monitor your budget you’ll start to see what works best for you.
FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
If you want to know how to stop living paycheck to paycheck then you need to have an accountability partner.
An accountability partner is someone who can help you to stick to your budget when times get tough. I was recently reading a book from a fellow blogger and she spoke about her financial struggles with her husband.
She started her blog as a way to make her publicly accountable as she started her very own guide to budgeting. It actually worked.
I’m not telling you to go start a blog and post your business online. No way. (Although if you do feel like that’s the way to go, I do have a fantastic guide to starting a blog here).
I have had a number of accountability partners over the years for various areas of my life, and they have saved me so many times.
Find someone you trust and confide your plans to them. Have them check up on you from time to time and check in with them as well.
It’s also really important when you feel the urge to spend, to talk to your accountability partner as well.
I know what you’re thinking. Why did I not put this first? And why is it that I am mentioning paying yourself when you’re broke?
Let me get in on my secret. When you pay yourself first, you are less likely to overspend in the end.
When I started my second job, I made a decision to pay myself up to 5% of my salary and this would act as my monthly allowance.
I could do whatever I wanted with this amount of money with a few rules:
- I had to commit to sticking to the 5% and NOT A DIME MORE
- The money had to last all month, and
- I could not use any other outside income sources to supplement that 5%
Guys, it worked so much better than I thought it would. I slowly realized that I was becoming more conscious of my spending habits and really developing a “miser” mindset.
The same can work for you. It doesn’t have to be 5% but I recommend sticking to 3 to 5% to play it safe and to ensure that you’re not dipping too much into the remainder of your paycheck.
It’s also optional but you can take that 5% and instead of spending the money, place it into a savings account. That way you’re really paying yourself.
When you pay yourself first, you are less likely to overspend in the end. Click To Tweet
MONTHLY BUDGETS AND YOU
Creating a budget is never an easy thing and I am not here to tell you otherwise. The first few months are gonna be rough and you’ll probably feel like a recovering addict; no pun intended.
Sticking to it and trying your best though is all going to be worth it in the end.
Once you start seeing your expenses fall, that smile on your face will be worth one less handbag or one less fast food meal.
If you found this guide to budgeting helpful, then you will enjoy this guide to help you make better decisions.
Also, let me know. Are you currently living paycheck to paycheck? Have you tried budgeting? I love reading your comments and hearing your thoughts so please comment down below. Also if you have any questions feel free to ask me them in the comment section below. Please also like and share this post and sign up so you never miss a thing!
Until next time.
Peace, love and prayers.