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How to Start A Budget Part 1: In The Beginning

how to start part 1

You know there’s no excuse for not starting a budget and you know budgeting is truly a freeing way to live  now you’re ready to start building a budget.

But where do you begin? You wonder how to start a budget? What is the jumping off place?

Let me share with you the best way to start budgeting. 

How to start a budget can be perplexing but it’s simple.  You start at the beginning.  In order to set up a budget you need to know where you’re spending your money.  This is the first step to realizing a working budget for your family.

To do this start tracking your spending for 30-60 days.  This may sound like a daunting task but it is the only way to know where your money goes and to realize why you need to do budget and live within your means. You simply keep track of all of your spending from soda machines to utilities, from coffee shops to rent and school lunches to birthday gifts.

Use this free 30 day spending tracking printable to write down any of your expenses.  The “Possible categories” column is for later use once you establish what your spending your money on.

Sometimes writing down what you spent money on is impractical because you’re at work, college or otherwise on the go.  Here are a few tips for tracking on the go and remembering what you bought.

  • Text yourself
  • Use Evernote on your smart phone
  • Call the house and leave a message
  • Save receipts – this is super important, especially if you buy new tires and toothpaste in the same transaction at Wal-Mart.
  • Carry a small tablet in your purse or pocket
  • Use online records from utility companies or credit card companies to see what monthly payments are

Speaking of utilities or monthly expenditures – gather a quick list of a year’s worth of payments for monthly necessities.  You don’t need every bill for the last 12 months, just a list of how much you paid.  Again, most companies have online access so you can just jot down the monthly amounts.  This will help you establish an average monthly amount for you budget. We’ll revisit that later but for now you’re in the gathering phase.

If you have older children who get an allowance or have jobs this is an awesome exercise for them to be part of too.  If you are struggling to figure out a way to budget or have never done it before, chances are your children don’t know either.  Why not have them come along side you and learn together? It will greatly impact their future.

Tracking your spending for 30 or 60 days is your first step in creating a working budget.  Why 30 or 60 days? It depends on your family and your life-style.  Some people are comfortable with 30 days worth of spending as their lives are pretty normal month to month while others needs two months worth of data to accurately tell what they are spending money on.

This was an eye opening experience for Brad and I.  When we realized how much we were spending on coffees and vending machines it prompted us to start making coffee at home and me making a dedicated effort to have a meal packed for Brad on work days.  We saved over $600 a year doing just that.

Taking the first step toward budgeting and getting on the road to financial freedom is a huge step and sometimes the hardest.  You can do it.  Being a good steward of God’s money well worth the stretching you’ll feel doing this spending tracking.

Have you ever tracked your spending?  What did you learn from it?  If you haven’t – are you ready to begin now?


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  1. […] be accounted for in a budget.  For more in depth information on setting up a budget you can read Part 1: In the Beginning and Part 2: Establishing Budget […]

  2. […] 24, 2013 by Danielle Leave a Comment Whether you’re new to budgeting and planned spending our you’ve been actively managing your finances for a while there is […]

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