“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned,
to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” -Will Smith
I had the chance to converse with someone I consider a supreme budgeter over the holidays. I’ve learned lots from Samantha R. over the years – she’s motivated, inspired and encouraged me over the years. Many thanks to her for sharing some of her insight and tips with us all.
Why do you budget?
I like knowing where my money’s going. I enjoy my career and make a decent salary – knowing that I’m at a point in my life where I can control where I allocate my funds and still have something left over for savings and entertainment means so much. I struggled for years with money and wasted so much money because I just spent and treaded water to get by. I don’t want to be in a situation like that again.
I’m surprised that you’ve not always been good with money. You seem so in control and knowledgeable about budgeting – disciplined is the word I’m looking for.
I definitely have not always been as disciplined as I am now. Just like you, I had that moment where I said enough is enough and knew I had to make some changes in my finances to for peace of mind. Lots of trial and error. I read lots of finance books and looked at different budgeting plans. I had to find what worked for me and make it a part of my daily routine.
How do you prepare your budget?
I use an Excel spreadsheet with all of my bills listed out and break out a percentage for charity and savings first. So each pay period, I put my salary and it automatically calculates based on what I have entered. I save and/or donate 25% of my salary so I’ve learned to live off of 75% of my income. Most of my regular bills (utilities, insurance, etc) are approximately the same each month so that’s easy to account for. I, also, have a set amount set up for household shopping like groceries, cleaning supplies, etc.
I’m still trying to digest you living off of 75% of your salary????!!!???
LOL…believe me, it has not always been that way. But I credit setting up a strict budget, sticking to it and making short-term sacrifices for a long-term pay off. I didn’t eat out for almost a year – no fast food, no Friday night pizza, no happy hours, nothing. But now I’m in a position where I can splurge on those things and not worry about spending money that should be used to pay something else. I can answer an “Unknown” call and not be worried about it being a bill collector.
What’s the number one tip you’d give someone like me that’s working on paying down debt and needs to be more disciplined?
Relax. You’ve taken the first step – realized you need to change your habits and are actively planning to make a change with your relationship with money. You’re not going to change your behavior over night or even within the first month or so. You’ll slip up and it’s okay. Just be diligent with your plans and budget for small rewards when you reach milestones.
Do you have a budgeting mentor?
Is there someone that’s taught you an invaluable lesson on budgeting?