This is the first in a series of posts on budgeting. All a budget is, is a plan for your money. A spending plan. Do you need a plan? Of course you do! Would you start building a house without a set of blueprints? No, and if you think about how much money you make multiplied by the number of years you work, you should not let that amount of money slip through your fingers without having a plan for it.
Think about it. The average household income in North America is about $55,000. If you work from age 25 to age 65, that’s 40 years. On average, if you never get a raise, that’s a life earnings of over $2,000,000! Don’t let that kind of money pass in and out of your hands without having a plan for it!
Begin At The Beginning
The first step is to identify where you spend money now. This means going through your bank account online and/or your check register to see how much you spend in these common categories. You don’t have to have an amount in every category, but make sure that all the money you are spending is accounted for. Here are some of the most common categories:
Tithes and Other Giving
Mortgage or Rent
Phone / Mobile
Car Payment #1
Car Payment #2
Gas & Oil
Repairs & Tires
Life Insurance Premiums
Health Insurance Premiums
Disability or Other Insurance Premiums
Pet Care (Food, Litter, Vet)
Now that you know the categories, here are the steps for working with this very First Steps Budget:
- Look through your bank accounts, your credit card statements, and your check register and allocate what you’ve spent into all appropriate categories.
- Zig Ziglar says, “Show me your calendar and your checkbook and I will tell you what is most important in your life.” Using this First Steps Budget, Identify the top three areas where you spend the most money.
- Answer this question: Do the three largest expenses accurately represent what is most important to you? If not, what would you like your largest budget category to be in the future?
All this is designed to do is to understand where you are spending money now. We’ll dig deeper in the next post on budgets.