How to Set up a Budget

Written by Mary Lutz

Ah, the ever-so-fun subject of budgeting! (A little sarcasm never hurt anyone!) Well, as a stay-at-home mom one way to keep our sanity is to keep our spending under control. I know, I know, that sounds like an oxy-moron because budgeting can cause you to go insane if you don’t have a simple and easy plan to use. And it can really cause you to go insane when money is tight.  (I wanna know whose money isn’t tight these days?!)

I have recently started budgeting (again) and have found a simple yet successful plan that works! If it works for me, believe me, it will work for anyone!!! I found through other work at home mom’s an on-line budgeting system called Pearbudget. You go on-line, register (there is a 30 day free trial then its only $3 a month-fits right in the budget!) and start filling in the boxes with your estimated monthly income, your estimated monthly bills and spending, and your irregular bills and spending.  The system walks you right through it, so it’s very easy to do.  Go, give it a try right now, then come back here and finish reading this! It won’t take long, I promise.  All you really need are estimates right now, you can tweak later. Go on, I’ll be waiting.  Here’s the link again.

That wasn’t so hard was it? And it didn’t take you too long.  I know you’ve probably got babies waiting for you so I’ll be quick!

After setting up Pearbudget, take a look at all your bills you pay directly from your bank account. I have bill pay set up on my bank account, which makes paying bills a BREEZE! I don’t have to sit down and write out checks every pay period. Who has time for that??? Not me! I recommend doing that to save your sanity! Once it’s all set up, all you have to do is, when a bill comes in, enter it in to be paid and your bank will send the money on the day you specify. You can do that according to your pay periods or when the bill is due, whatever works easiest for you. I do it by due date usually because my husband gets paid every two weeks and the due dates fall around his paydays.  But, you can do it however works best for you. You will probably change it around a few times before you get it so it works just right for you.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, on to the most fun part! Setting up your envelopes! Really it is kind of fun. Go through all your bills that you may use a debit or credit card for but should use cash.  Those would be:

  • Groceries
  • Gas for vehicles
  • Dining out
  • Fun money (to spend on whatever you want! Yes there should be a category for that!)
  • Entertainment (can also go under the Fun Money category-you decide)
  • Vehicle maintenance (like oil changes-not major repairs)
  • Haircuts, colors, etc.
  • Personal items (some people put haircuts under this one-again you can decide what works for you)
  • Miscellaneous (I make this one very small; try to categorize as much as you can)

If you don’t have that many zippered envelopes (like pencil bags the kids use for school) start out by using regular mailing envelopes or large manilla envelopes.  I found zippered pencil bags at Wal-Mart for $0.97 each! That fit right in my budget!

Each payday, fill your envelopes with cash. How much cash depends on how you get paid. I get paid every week, my hubby gets paid every two weeks, so we put larger chunks of cash in when he gets paid and smaller chunks when I get paid. Then when you go grocery shopping, take only the envelope for groceries and spend only that amount.  Take a calculator with you, or if you’re really good at math and memorization, every time you put something in the cart, round it up to the next dollar amount and keep track that way.  We just did that the other night and still had $7 left! I was excited! (I put the left over money in my fun money envelope…shhh don’t tell my hubby!)

Oh, one other thing…I promise I’m almost done! Fun money; make sure you set a little aside each month for yourself, your hubby, your kids. You all gotta have a little fun and this is a good way to reward yourself for being disciplined in budgeting! Right now all we can afford is $50 a month, $25 for me and $25 for my hubs.  But, we get to spend it on whatever we want!

So, here’s the link again for those who just HAD to read the whole post first before trusting me! Just kidding! I usually do it too…lol…that’s why I knew I had to add the link again! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Happy Budgeting!


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