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Do you find yourself spending countless hours planning your budget only to look up and realize you’ve done more planning than executing?

I mean, you’ve put in the work – outlined your budget to a T, detail after detail. But it’s a different story after you actually get your paycheck. You might as well have thrown the whole budget away because the plans you had for the money have completely changed. 

Don’t fret, today I want to give you some budgeting tips for beginners who are just starting out.  We all know that creating a budget can be a challenge. Once you actually do it, you’ll need to stick with it for it to actually do you any good.

Of course, there are times when things don’t go as planned so you’ll need to compromise.  Come to terms with the fact that your budget has to be a bit flexible.

Your budget is not a static thing. You’ll find that sometimes you will have to do some tweaking and minor adjustments, but you can still stick to it. 

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Budgeting Tips For Beginners

Questions to ask yourself about your budget

Maybe you tried to create a budget in the past and it didn’t work. It didn’t fit your needs at that time. The goal is to have a budget that can work FOR you, not against you. So look at your budget and ask yourself these questions.

1. Is your budget too detailed?

Sometimes it can be a bit daunting looking at a budget that has just too many categories.  T

here are so many possible budget categories you could include.

But it’s important to try to stick to only what’s absolutely necessary. You want to have a workable budget. However, if more than one category can be combined, then combine them. 

2. Is your budget too simple?

Perhaps your budget is too general, so you don’t even use it because it’s not helpful – completely useless.

If your budget doesn’t have all the information you need for your finances to thrive, then it simply will not work. 

You have to make sure you have enough information to create a budget that actually gives you a complete picture. 

3. Are alternatives included in your budget?

It’s easy to deviate from your budget if you don’t include alternatives. Let’s say you have decided that you need to cut expenses from your budget. Make sure to jot down some alternatives so it’s easy to stick to your new budget.

Think about the alternative plan for cutting your eating out budget category.

  • Will you instead sacrifice your personal spending money for any eating out that you do? 
  • Will you start meal planning to make sure you have meals predetermined?

Having a plan helps you reach your goals. After all, that’s what this whole budgeting thing is all about anyway.  Writing your alternative plan down is more beneficial and you’re likely to stick to the plan when you write it down.

4. Is the income in your budget realistic?

One of the most important features of a good budget is making sure the income section is as accurate as possible. You cannot put what you want your income to be.

In order for your budget to work, you have to put the income you will actually receive. If you don’t know how much money you’ll be bringing in for a particular month, then you can go by averages of your most recent month’s income. 

So basically what you do is write down the income you received this month, last month and the month prior. Add those amounts up, then divide by 3. The final number is the average income of your past 3 months of income.

If at all possible, do not include income that you’re unsure of it’s reliability. These are things like child support, bonuses and even side hustle money. Use the income that you know you will receive.  Then if you actually receive that additional income, you can budget that money when it comes.

5. Are you rewarding yourself in your budget?

The main purpose of a budget is to have a plan for your money. But if you’re not rewarding yourself by including the things that are important to you in your budget, then what’s the point?

Think about the things you like to do that require money. How can you work those things into your budget so that you’re able to afford them?

Don’t just put your bills in your budget, that’s not truly living. 

How to stick to your budget (Creative Ways)

Here are some creative ideas for helping you stick to your budget. Cutting back and creating alternatives doesn’t have to cause you a boring and unfulfilled life.

  • Swap eating out for lunch with a fun Pinterest-worthy bento box lunch.
  • For your next date night, have an indoor or outdoor picnic. Get fancy with it too, make sure you lay out your blanket and pack the food in a nice (and cheap) basket or container.
  • Stay home for dinner and scroll through some recipes that are out of your usual comfort zone and try something different. Cook a meal using a new recipe.
  • If you decided to cut cable, that does not mean that you will be disconnected from the entertainment world. There’s always Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Redbox etc. Girl, you can still watch your shows. Instead of paying for a whole cable package, now you can just pay for that single channel or watch it on Hulu.
  • So you like going to the movies, huh? Welp, you can still have a movie night. Me and my kids are always doing family movie night.

Go to Redbox and get a nice movie or pull out one of those ancient DVD’s and go to town. Most grocery stores sell movie style popcorn. You can add all the extra butter you want. 

Or, you could make your own movie with your family. Have a family fun night and do a puppet show, put on a play and use your phone or computer’s webcam to record it all.

  • Say no to Ulta and every other expensive beauty store and start making your own natural skin care products. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also find comfort in knowing exactly what is in your products going on your skin.
  • Make your own household products – laundry detergent, candles, cleaning spray etc.

Final Thoughts – Budgeting Tips For Beginners

Alrighty, I’ve given you some of the best budgeting tips and tricks that you can use.

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta get creative with your budget. Your budget should be customized in a way that works for you and your family.

Not every family’s budget will look the same, it’s why they call it “personal” finances. Just have fun along the way.

Budgeting Tips For Beginners

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Ozella is a millennial wife and mom on a journey to financial freedom. Having grown up financially dumb, she learned the hard way and is now working her way out of debt. She uses The Intentional Dollar to share all that she is learning with others through her own journey.

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