Things I Do to Save Money: Budgeting

Morning, everyone, it is the threshold to the weekend. Before I begin my official post I want to send a shout out to Our Life in Action who nominated me for my very first blogger award. Sweet! And thank you, and I love you, and just ermahgerd. I am excited!

blog-on-fire

I will be nominating my favorite blogs later, either today or tomorrow in a different post, because I really want to give the “why’s” of my blog addictions. But I have to follow the rules and post 8 random things about me.

List 8 random things about yourself :
1. I have a broken tail bone that doesn’t allow me to do half of the yoga and pilates poses I want to do. It’s literally straight, like that weird guy who was able to wag his tail bone in Shallow Hal.
2. ET, the alien movie, scares the crap out of me. It all started when I was four and I had a nightmare about him coming into my room. I can’t watch that movie ever.
3. I am not a natural red head, but I am on my way to “might as well be.” Red hair for 10 years!
4. I still feel stuffed animals have souls and can get jealous if I begin to favor one over the other.
5. Red velvet with cream cheese frosting is my favorite flavor of cake.
6. I have figured out the secret to getting the jackpot on a Dave and Buster’s game. I hit the jackpot 7 times in one night! I went home with one heck of a frisbee!
7. I have a grill sitting on my back deck. I have only used it once in the three years I’ve had it.
8. I am a “mama bear.” If someone messes with my friends or my baby sister, I come running with claws out. It’s gotten me in trouble in the past. I am working on it.

Quick Update: The Best Buy debacle has been worked out. I was able to contact an old friend that currently works in the store, and he was able to take the laptop back, explain the situation to the manager and retrieve a fully-functional. Because of this, I will not go into the whole stink of how the customer service girl basically snubbed me and made me cry in the middle of the store because it was “my fault the computer was broken when I received it since there was no way someone could have damaged it at the store.” Whenever the good associate brought the new computer up to the store, he asked me if he could open the box before I left, to which of course I said “Oh, please, please do. I don’t want to go through this again.” Turns out, there was a seal on the package on the damaged laptop that was broken by someone else. Evidently, someone had purchased the original laptop and then brought it back to the store damaged and it came into my possession. The sales associate that actually helped me was amazing, and I am indebted to him for at least the next few times he ever wants a beer or a pat on the back. He is a credit to his profession for looking past the numbers and at the customer. The other girl working in “customer service” needs a serious job moving, because no one that grumpy should ever be dealing with people who are throwing massive amounts of cash away on electronics. So girl in the customer service position at the Rock Hill branch, remember that it may just be $400 now, but you just cost the company as a whole a potential of around $25,000 from my family in the future (immediate family now, future family later).

But today is about what I do to save money. Right now I am officially “unemployed” until I sell my first official house. Yes, kids, it’s true. Realtors don’t get paid on an hourly basis. We get paid on 100% commission. It definitely lights a fire under your tush, I can tell you that but it does tend to make the funds around the Treehouse a little tight. But don’t go sending me checks and bags of apples just yet, guys. I am doing alright. Rally, I am darling. Because I can budget like an self-employed, almost-25-year-old realtor/blogger/home improvement nerd should.

Most of you are already chomping at the bit to get started. Here’s the thing, though. The process takes a little bit longer than you’d think. You have to do a little bit of homework, here, but it is well worth it in the end. And it is a process. Once you start, you can’t really stop or else your finances could go by the wayside.

Step One: FIGURE OUT SPENDING FOR A MONTH. There are two ways to approach this, one more time consuming than the other. The first way to deduce what you’ve spent in the past is to check your online bank accounts. I am not one to hold on to receipts, so I always pop in on my checking account to check out what my spending is doing. Also, Wells Fargo offers a My Money Map which shows you what you are spending each month. Pretty nifty application.

This is not my personal bank account.  Courtesy of WellsFargo.com

This is not my personal bank account. Courtesy of WellsFargo.com

I am currently taking the second approach, however, and that is personally tracking my spending in a tiny pocket book. Every transaction that I make is put in my book, which helps curb spending and actually gets me in the right mindset for when I actually start budgeting. Since I officially started budgeting for January, this is obviously still in process. I prefer this method, as well, because I am witnessing first hand what I am really spending money on. Take the gas tab for my car…it is well over what I thought I was spending each month. I am seeing it now instead of looking back on it later, so I will be able to address spending problems a little bit more efficiently with this approach.

The spending categories go a little something like this:

money

Looking at it, it can be overwhelming but everything has a place. I start at the top with the things I KNOW I will have to spend money on and I have a good idea of what it will cost me. Which brings me to Step 2.

Step 2: CALCULATING COST OF LIVING. I calculate everything from the previous month and I put each of the dollar amounts into the categories under which they’re listed. For example, if I spent $500 on the monthly mortgage or rent, that’s what my budget is expected to be for that month.

Step 3: TIME TO TWEAK. You may notice during the first step that you spent a lot of money in an area that is not necessary to your quality of life. Take personal maintenance for instance. The month before, you spent $250 in this category. You may have given yourself a manicure to many or taken yourself on a shopping spree. This is where you have to be honest with yourself. Is there a way to cut the spending in this category? Maybe opting for nail “appointments” at home instead of at the salon could save you between $15 and $60 a month, depending on how often you go. Even giving up habits such a Starbucks coffee runs or smoking can save you around $10 a week.

Step 4: STICKING TO IT. The hardest part. But you are capable, because you have the tools. Payoff the necessities first, and as quickly as possible for that month. You don’t want the spending to get in the way, and then you are having to take money out of your savings to pay the rent. If your budget only allows you $40 a month to go out to dinner, only go once a week. And yes, this includes fast food runs. Groceries and going to McDonald’s in my opinion are not the same thing.

I hope this helps, guys. I am really starting to see some awesome changes in my financial life. What are you doing to curb spending in your household?

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3 thoughts on “Things I Do to Save Money: Budgeting

  1. LMAO!!! OMG – I do the same thing with stuffed animals and I too am a Mama bear…or as my hubby calls me a spider monkey that attacks if anyone messes with those I love. Great post and congrats again – You deserve it!
    P.S. – super shocked that this is the first award you’ve won….more awards to come, I’m sure of it! 😀

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