What you should include in your budget
Budgets are one of the simplest ways to get better with your finances. Learning to budget (and not just pray I wouldn’t spend money) was a really significant way I improved my finances.
But they’re kind of imperfect.
Especially when they’re downloaded off the internet and look like this:
Firstly, what is a budget?
Most budgets people use are inherited from their parents or worse, those weird excel budgets that are free on the internet. They’re super helpful when you’re starting out but without customisation are clunky, frustrating and often don’t help you get where you need to go with your finances.
I started my budget with a excel spreadsheet that I built myself but if you’re not excel savvy, Google Sheets has some free budget templates that are helpful. If you prefer digital budgets, here’s a post on some digital platforms you can use to help you track your budget!
What to include
- WHATEVER you actually spend money on
- Have a pet armadillo? Their care is in the budget
- Are you an ethnic who is required to front up hundreds for a wedding? Gift sinking fund!
- Get your hair bleached for $500 each quarter? In the budget!
- Have a skydiving membership? In the budget!
What to scrap
- Unrealistic expectations
- Things other people ‘say’ you should include
- Restrictive categories (no scarcity!)
- Any expenses that no longer bring you joy (have a CrossFit membership because you think you’ll use it but go once a year on 1 Jan? Let it go, my love).
How do you build your budget?
Ironically the easiest way to build a document that is supposed to set you up for the future.. is to look at the past!
Take your credit card or bank statement from the last quarter and either print it out or get it up on your computer. Now, pick four highlighter colours (you can do this in any PDF reader with a mark up tool).
- ONE – Expenses
- TWO – Savings
- THREE – Spending
- FOUR – Wtf is this? Why did I spend money on this?
From there, you might want to make adjustments (earn more! spend less) etc. I find doing that spend tracking activity every so often changed my life.
You’d be surprised by how easy it is to deny you have a clothing addiction until you see the amount of money you’re spending in Category 4.