Budgeting 101

If you’ve been reading this blog since last year, you may be familiar with our cheapo intentionally money-conscious way of life:)  Last year I gave some tips that have helped us through our Financial Freedom Friday posts.  With it being the beginning of a new year, new resolutions, and new goals, I thought you all may appreciate a little freebie to help you get started on those money-saving goals {and, yes, I’m assuming some of you all made that part of your resolutions along with weight loss, balance, and organization because that’s just what we do}.

Mike and I keep a budget tracking sheet on the inside of our pantry, attached to our calendar.  When we get home from grocery shopping, dining out with friends, etc., we go straight to the pantry and record what we’ve spent.  If you think this may be hard for you to remember to do, don’t worry.  Be intentional for a few weeks and it will just become a natural habit after awhile.  To help you get started, I created a little template and am sharing it here for you to print off for yourselves.

In the parentheses next to each item, we write down the amount designated per month.  For example, I’ve shared before that we spend $50 per week on groceries, so next to the Groceries title, we’ll write $200 {for the month}.  Then next to that, we’ll write how much we’ve spent so far so we know how much we have left.  It will look something like this as the month goes along:

You may notice that I didn’t write $50+$50+$50+$50=$200.  Why not?  Well, that’s not reality.  We don’t magically spend exactly $50 a week and end at $200 per month.  We try to balance it out.  If we are having people over and buy more food than normal, we’ll choose some inexpensive meals the following week and try and even it back out.  Or, if we have a lot of plans to go out to eat with friends in a given month, we’ll steal some cash from an area where we haven’t spent much.  The “miscellaneous” category covers household products {cleaning supplies, shampoo, etc.}, but if there is another category that you find yourself overspending in, by all means, add it to the blank at the bottom to help contain yourself:)  You can’t really control how much you spend on gas, but we like to track it for our knowledge.

This system works great for us.  We’ve been doing it over for over a year and are really happy with the results.  We had set a goal last January for the amount of money we wanted to save this year and reached it by simply tracking what we spend and being aware of our habits and also of our goals.  Pretty simple idea.  We are going to sit down this weekend and look at our spending from last year and income for the new year and adjust any areas as needed.  It may take some refiguring for the first few months to get everything as slimmed down as you can to save as much as you can, but don’t give up. You’ll get it worked out and will feel so good when you have a concrete plan on your monthly spending.

I hope that helps you get started!  If you have any questions about my ramblings, let me know:)  Anyone have any other great tips to share?  How do you coordinate and track your budget?  I love to hear other ideas!





I’ve linked this up with 5 Days, 5 Ways!

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  1. Hi! Thank you so much for the free template above – I am so going to start using this. I have to say my hubby and I are horrible at budgeting. We don’t have huge credit card bills or outstanding debts (well our mortgage) or anything like that but we are always living paycheck to paycheck it seems. Even if we get a raise (which we just did) it just seems like we just spend that much more. We have never really sat down (okay tried, but failed) and created a budget and managed our expenses and income in an organized fashion. Honestly I can’t tell you how much we spend on groceries a month (I have a good estimate, but nothing exact and I’m sure it varies quite often). Do you have any suggestions on how someone can get started (for someone who has NEVER even looked at finaces like this)? I would apprecaite any advice or tips you have. Oh and I LOVE your new light in the closet – and the price is even better!
    Thank you,

    • Hi Saby!
      I would recommend starting by pulling up your bank accout and looking at your expenditures for the past 3-6 months. Take those numbers and categorize them to see how much you’ve spent on average per month in each category {food, entertainment, etc.}. I know you said it varies each month, but try to find an average number. Then once you see how much you typically spend, set a goal for how much you’d like to spend each month. Mike and I spent way more than we thought on groceries when we first figured our budget, so we set our goal much lower than what we had typically been spending to try and save. It became a fun challenge to see how little we could spend:) Work through each category, setting a goal for the amount you’d like to spend. I would try it for a month and then at the end of the month, review how it went and adjust as needed. It may take a couple monts to get it to where you feel comfortable. One of the most important things is keeping track of what you spend. That way you’ll know if the budget is working for you or not so try and get in the habit of recording everything on your budget sheet. I hope that helps! Let me know if I can help anymore!

  2. Thanks for the great tip. I’m going to try this with my family. I’m also your newest follower :)

  3. Thanks Saby for your question, I had the same thinking! I didn’t even think to look back at my spending to find a trend with groceries and eating out, etc. That might help to see where I’m losing focus. I find fresh produce to be so expensive, I did start shopping at Aldi which does have very reasonable prices on many of the same things I buy at the regular grocery store, but do you notice you tend to buy more produce items or find other ways to find food for a cheaper price? Would you mind to share how you meal plan to keep your weekly prices lower? Thanks for your help! I definitely plan to use your template and I love the font!

    • Produce is pricey. Sadly, I haven’t found any way around that yet. We just buy cheaper food to go with it. For example, we’ll make stuffed peppers and add some rice to the stuffing mixture to make it filling, but keep it cheap. I’ll try and add more recipes this year that are budget friendly and share more about our meal planning! I’m glad you’ve found this helpful-good luck with your budgeting!


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