A Strong Foundation: The Budget
In pursuit of a more frugal lifestyle, most of us realize that in order to see where we can cut costs or save money, we have to see where it is going and how much we are spending. This is where a budget comes into play. Starting a budget can sound intimidating and restricting, but in fact, it can be simple and liberating. It helps show where we are financially, so every swipe of our debit card doesn’t feel like a game of roulette.
A Simple Budget
Simple Budgeting is made up of two components: planning and execution. In our household, my husband and I share the responsibilities. I plan. Our budget is an excel spreadsheet documenting our income, spending, and savings. Each with three columns:
- Budget: the planned amount of income or spending.
- Actual: what the income or spending really was.
- Variance: the difference between the first two columns.
Life happens, and sometimes we must stray from our budget for unforeseen events or situations. Knowing what we need to spend and what we have gives an edge and peace of mind in those situations.
A Team Effort
He executes, but before he distributes our funds accordingly, we review it in open dialog and pray about it. When our snail mail comes in, I first put any bills on a large desk calendar. This is for planning purposes. I, then, put it on his desk with a date and a note of which account to make the payment from. When a pay period comes around, which luckily for us is every Friday, he then goes through the mail on his desk. Then he writes out our tithe check first, and goes online and pays all the bills for that week. He writes down the date, amount, and confirmation number for me and puts it on my desk for filing. Then, he checks it off the calendar and so continues the cycle. Please remember, this works for my husband and me now in our current financial situation. It may not work for everyone and it may change in our future.
Starting a budget is simple, but continuing to build it as you grow can get overwhelming if you don’t have a solid foundation. Remember preparation is key! To get started on developing a budget of your own, you will need to gather your pay stubs (or any source of income), and checking account statements, and savings account statements for the last 6 months for reference. I have added a template of a simple foundation budget spreadsheet to the resources page that can be printed out and used, saved on your computer, or just used as a reference. I will eventually be adding (a) post(s) to address how to utilize your budget for achieving estate goals such as savings for certain items, paying off debt, or investing. Thank you for visiting Frugal American Dream and joining my journey of exploring new ways of living on less!