Everyone knows I am an organized person. I am not so because I have to be; I am because I truly enjoy it and I’ve seen the many benefits.
I started budgeting years ago and have refined my method since. Times changed and I changed. When I first started working in High School, I saved for gas and that was about it. As a 23 year old recent graduate, my needs have clearly changed.
There are a lot of people who hear that I budget and assume that I am limiting myself by doing so–that I am not out there living life because I pay too close attention to the numbers. I have to tell you all straight up, that is simply not the case.
In college? Yes, that was the case. I didn’t have time to work and only had so much money coming in. I had to sacrifice social spending because I needed to eat, pay rent, get supplies, and get through those five years.
Now I am very fortunate to have two paychecks coming in a month. But as I said, I also have many things I need to allot for: rent, utilities, food, car and gas, paying off my Mac, soon to be paying of the bed that is coming today (!!!!), and the dreaded school loans, which are costing approximately 30% of my monthly income. Tack on the rent and that goes up to 53%. But beyond the things I need to save for, I now save for the things I want to as well.
I believe in living within my means, without forgetting to live. I don’t make very much (though I know people who make less and I certainly know people who make more). I am incredibly lucky to be sharing expenses with my boyfriend, so the burden for shared expenses does not fall completely on my shoulders. But I sat down, thought about the things that were important for me to save for, and created the budget–which is super refined and rather awesome now, I must say.
In addition to all those things I mentioned earlier that I need to save for, I now save for personal purchases (nails, clothing, indulgences), entertainment (movies and outings), any time specific needs (gifts for the holidays, bigger personal purchases), as well as for the future big day, whenever that may be, vacations, and even retirement.
My budget has 12 categories that I put money into monthly (sometimes less, sometimes more). It seems overwhelming to others, but that number is specific to me–others may need less, others may need more, but it gets me to look beyond the big picture, the $$ amount in my bank account, and into the specifics. I asked myself the question and I ask others as well, “If you saw thousands of dollars in your bank account, A. How badly would you want to indulge knowing there was plenty available and B. How long would it last if you didn’t monitor spending?”
I work my budget twice a month, tracking spending and dispersing paychecks. What comes from that?
- I feel more in control of my finances.
- I know where my money is going and where it has gone as well.
- I feel more secure in knowing I will have money to pay rent, eat, drive my car, pay bills and yes, have fun.
- I get mini reality checks if I’ve gone too far and now have to sacrifice something to pay for something else.
- I now save for things I never could, big and small.
- With all my expenses, I have 37% of the money I’ve made since I started working 6 months ago in my bank account right now.
- I have newfound freedom to do the things I want.
- I am doing something when I am young that will benefit me in the long run.
*I strongly urge friends and family of all ages to consider keeping a budget. It takes 15-20 minutes once or twice a month and it has so many benefits. I know from life experience that finances are not always pleasant. I am in a solid situation right now that I realize I may not always have.
It’s not about limiting yourself, it’s about being realistic when it comes to life’s necessities and taking the time to think about what you want out of life. I want to say yes to going out with friends. I want to pay the bill at dinner once in a while. I want to contribute to our vacation. I want to remember realities and responsibilities. I want to think about my future, but I also want to live in the moment.
And that is my two cents.