Procrastination is how I started my budget! Are you laughing yet? The fear of putting things down on paper or on the computer in black in white scared the heebie jeebies right out of me. I’d rather face down a dark barn with a big black snake in it than have to do that!
Well, I took the snake by the tail and sat down and put down every bill I knew we had to pay in a month. Whew, got that done, and I’m still alive! I then put down all over our income that we have coming in each month. Then I tracked our spending for one month and put this down on the paper. Once I had this in place I looked at all the expenditures that were discretionary and looked where I could cut – out some areas such as – taking our lunches rather than buying, taking a cooler to the barn with water and tea rather than buying from the convenience store, taking our lunch to the barn instead of eating out (I did give wiggle room for this as sometimes when it is 110 degrees in the shade a nice cool diner is very nice for lunch but I look for places that I have discounts and coupons with to reduce our out of pocket), reducing the habit (yes habit) of eating out after work and making more meals from scratch, using cash rather than credit cards and debit cards. It is proven that people that pay with cash spend less than ones using credit or debit cards. These are just some of the areas we trimmed and this may not work for you – only YOU will now what you can trim and can’t trim from your expenditures. The exercise will help you understand where your money is going and how to keep more of it in your hands rather than someone else’s hand!
Next, I thought through what we needed to accomplish this year. I did not assign any dates for completion to them until I had them listed. Once I had them listed I bucketed them into short term (1-3 months), Mid-term goals (6-9 months) Long Term (1 year or more). Once I had them in the appropriate buckets I started to look at how much these would cost and where I could put them in the budget. This was hard but very rewarding because we now have a plan in place to reach our goals. Had we not sat down and done this (I put it in rough draft) Bear and I would still be wondering what we were working towards. We could talk about our goals but neither of us had set them down on paper and truly visualized achieving these goals. That Dumpster that I ordered would still be on the back burner but since I had the plan, I was able to check off my plan two items that are steps to the main goal of getting our Garage that collapsed from the earthquake cleared and cleaned up and rebuilt.
Remember this: Budgets are plans set in sand for goals set in stone.
What I mean by this is that Budgets are plans that can and do change – they are not the ones set in stone your goals are and sometimes the budget has to change to keep your goals in sight!
Maybe your goal is so big that you just don’t see ever getting to it – that is when you need to break that big goal into smaller goals that will get you to the bigger goal.
One of our goals is to get our garage cleared and cleaned out since it collapsed from an earthquake we had and insurance would not cover it. Now just putting down Garage Cleaned and Cleared is way to broad and to large to obtain – therefore it is a bit intimidating. But, if I break it down into what I need to get to the ultimate goal makes it less intimidating and easier to achieve.
Here is how I broke it down:
Ultimate Goal – Garage Cleared, cleaned, rebuilt
Items needed to Clear/Clean Garage:
Dumpster Parking Permit
Bear schedule vacation time
Nancy schedule vacation time
Two Shovels, Roofing tools (to pull off tar paper)
2 – 3 Wheel barrows
Gloves for all helpers
Lunch/Dinner for helpers
Drinks for everyone through the day (tea, water)
Once I had broken it down into smaller goals then it did not seem so intimidating and I started to believe we would achieve our goal by the end of the year!
I hope this will help you understand that even though this is my first year for a budget that I realize how important the exercise to get to the budget was and how it should be reviewed every few months to ensure you are still on track to achieve your goals.
Remember: BABY STEPS BABY! BABY STEPS!
Please let me know how you budget and achieve your goals – I’m always searching for new ways to help get to my goals.
Here are a few links to sites that I have used to help with my budget/goal planning:
The Smartest Way To Save – Heidi has some great ideas
Leaving Excess – Michelle is good at breaking things down and answering questions.
These are just a few of the many sites I visit for information on my budget – take a moment to visit and if you have a site that might be of interest please leave a comment!