If you’ve been putting off creating a budget for months because you dread digging through a bunch of papers (or signing up on a bunch of web sites) to see what all you owe, there’s a relatively painless way to get started.
The catch is, it’s also a little bit slow.
But slow is faster (and better!) than never doing it at all, and slow is better than continuing to put off creating a budget for several more months.
Slow is progress.
Here’s all you do:
- Get out a piece of paper, use the free template available here, or open up a blank spreadsheet. (OpenOffice’s Calc is free, if you need a spreadsheet program.) Label it “Budget” or whatever floats your boat
- Write today’s date on it so you remember when you started.
- Every time you pay a bill, write the amount you paid and the name of the bill down on your paper or spreadsheet.
- Every time you make some money, write down how much you made & where it was from.
At the end of a month, you’ll have a record of all your regular monthly bills and your income.
You’ve come that far…
Once you’ve come that far, you may as well finish up the last bit. Be brave and subtract what you’ve been paying out each month from the income you wrote down.
Now look at what’s in your bank account.
Do you have money left? If so, you spent less than you earned, which is an excellent thing. If not, figure out what you bought with the rest of the money or what happened to your income.
Guess, if need be. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be honest, and not leave something off the list because you think it doesn’t count because it was “unusual”. Everything counts, because every month is an unusual month.
Rinse and repeat
Now write everything down on another piece of paper (or just rename your spreadsheet), putting what’s listed in the order that’s most important to you to get done.
Pay those things first next time, checking things off that are already on your list as you go and adding new thing as you come across them, think of them, or decide you want to do them.
Voila, a budget that will get you to where you want to be. Including out of debt.
Looking for a document that has categories set up for you instead? You can use my free budget template in fillable pdf form. Fill out the form below to get it right away.