I love to budget, but I find it hard. I have to re-do my budgets quite a few times a year, as that is how often my financial situation changes.
Being a single mother, I only have my own income to budget, as well as my daughter’s survivor benefits. She automatically pays so much of each bill, as that is what her case worker told me that I had to do.
Step #1: How much income do I have?
So, in order to make a budget, you first have to know what income you have. Our income looks something like this, in general. Actually, this budget is one of many. It changes a lot.
$694.00 Z’s survivor benefits (I do not get to spend all of this!!!)
$672.00 My income from Childcare
$ 30.00 Average from blogging
1,525.00 (Keeping in mind that it is not all my income, and I cannot spend it all.)
Step # 2: What are my fixed expenses?
We also have to know what we have to pay out each month.
$165.00 Lot rent
$ 11.00 Phone
$ 70.00 Water/Sewer
$ 60.00 AOL/DVD Rentals for school/work and entertainment
$ 90.00 Oil
$ 30.00 Cat food and litter
$ 10.00 Cleaning and Personal Hygiene needs
$ 6.00 Co-pay for medications
$ 20.00 Bus fare
$ 6.00 Domain names and websites owned by me.
$ 37.00 Homeowner’s Insurance
$ 25.00 Property Taxes
$ 25.00 Homeschool Materials
$ 10.00 Gift giving money to put away
$542.00 is left, which is Zowie’s money. Her part of the food and bills are already taken out of her money at this point, and anything else that she needs is also taken out of her money. This money does not go as far as it could, because she uses it for other important things that she does not necessarily need. For instance, she is going to her Key Clubs annual conference and needs money for that, she buys what she needs for her six weeks away at the Upward Bound program during the summer, as well as what she needs for related events throughout the year. These two programs will look great on her college application, and she needs something to do besides study all of the time.
Really, once this is done, I do not have much extra money myself. I must put away all of my change for yardsaling, as well as loose one’s. I need to purchase sneakers for myself three or four times a year, because I walk so much for health and other reasons. I need clothes. I haven’t had a haircut in more than two years. And man! Do I wish that I could have just one message in my life! Well, I don’t see a visit to the spa in my future.
All of these items are not fixed expenses. I may or may not get them. I tend to buy almost everything used or at deeply discounted prices.
As of February, we may not even have any channels. In all reality, no one can say 100% for certain what will happen when everything goes digital. I did get my two converter boxes, but they may not work. I keep hearing that we will likely need one of those big anteanna’s in order for our televisions to work, but I cannot afford that.
But I digress.
Once you have steps one and two done, you will know how much extra money you have left. For me that is next to nothing. You may have more.
Step #3: What’s left?
My example does not leave me with more than $20.00 extra a month, and that is really only some months.
So, if I say that I have $20.00 left over a month, what do I spend it on?
Well, I put money away for yardsaling, which is how I get most of what I need as well as gifts for people for the holidays. I do not buy much for birthday gifts for anyone but my daughters, so I do try to give Christmas gifts.
Once in a while, my daughter/friend/sister and I will choose to go out to eat or to a matinee, which is always fun.
I buy used books and DVD’s if they are something that I really want. I resell the books, and usually that money will go toward the new used books.
I buy a soda.
I scrapbook and do crafts.
My main goal right now is to stock a pantry with at least three months worth of food.
As you can see, there really isn’t much to creating a budget. But you may find that you really don’t have any money for extra’s. It happens to the best of us.
Please post your best budgeting tips below.