Budgeting is… not the most fun thing to do. But that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do!
So, where the heck are you supposed to start? Let’s walk through every step of the budgeting process. (Oh, and don’t forget to download your free spreadsheet so you can track your budget and spending habits!)
Budgeting for Your Life
If we’re being entirely honest, I’m actually obsessed with budgeting.
I handle the budget in my house, not because I’m better at it, but because I actually really enjoy constantly updating it and seeing where we’re at. I love calculating our net worth and seeing it increase (slowly) month over month.
But I wasn’t always this way. Not in the slightest.
Growing up, my mom was very good at budgeting and bargain hunting. She had a coupon for everything, and we didn’t buy something if it was full priced.
And for a long time, I didn’t get it. I was so intimidated by budgeting that I just kinda… ignored it. So much, in fact, that my freshman year of college I didn’t open up my online banking account once. I ate out whenever I wanted (even though I had a meal plan, guys. not smart), I bought roughly 53463654 new t-shirts, and in general didn’t pay attention to how much money I was spending.
Then, in March of my freshman year, I went to put a deposit in for my tattoo and… my card was declined. I literally went through more than a $1,500 in a semester and a half despite the fact that my tuition, books, rent, and two meals per day were covered by my parents.
You know what I could have gotten with that money? So many things.
A plane ticket to Europe. A really nice camera and like 3 lenses. A new MacBook. An entirely new wardrobe of professional or semi-professional clothes (instead of 50 million graphic tshirts).
You see, without a budget, you end up spending way too much money on things you really don’t need. This can lead to massive credit card debt and eternal sadness.
Instead, if you budget, you can save up little by little each month and save up for awesome things that you will really cherish! Less impulse shopping means more meaningful shopping.
Plus, when you budget, you can set aside money for fun activities and hobbies. Like… blogging!Trying to get a handle on your budget? @caitlinhonard has the ultimate guide for you (with a free spreadsheet!)Click To Tweet
How to Budget Your Life
Now that we know why you should be budgeting, let’s talk about how to do it! I promise, it’s not as intimidating as it seems. I’ll help!
First, I recommend you download this free budgeting spreadsheet! Then, to fill it in, follow along below!
1 | Select a time period and start with how much you’re actually making in that amount of time.
For the sake of ease, let’s say each month. We want this to be as simple as possible, so keep in mind how often you’re paying your bills. For most people, it’s once per month.
Now figure out how much you’re making each month. This is tricky if you’re working odd jobs and don’t have a consistent schedule, but do your best.
2 | Subtract your recurring bills.
Now that we know your overall income, let’s start figuring out your expenses!
Each month, there’s going to be certain bills you’re paying. They might be the same exact amount each month (like your rent) or they might fluctuate a little bit (like heating and electricity). Either way, you know you’re going to get a bill for them every month.
Figure out all of these recurring bills and subtract them from your monthly income. If the amount fluctuates, estimate roughly how much it will average out to each month.
Don’t forget to include debt like student loans and credit card payments as well!
3 | Decide how much you should be saving each month.
Next, let’s figure out your savings goals. How much should you be setting aside each month? This could be a general savings goal (I want to save $300 per month), or something specific (I’d like a new car in a year or two). If it’s something specific, figure out when you want it and how much it will cost. Then divide that cost by the amount of time left until you want to buy it, and that’s your monthly goal!
Subtract this monthly goal from your remaining balance.
4 | Make a list of the remaining things you need to spend money on each month.
It’s time to figure out everything else you need to spend money on. Groceries, eating out, transportation, animal expenses, etc. would go on this list.
5 | Decide how much you really need to spend in each category.
Now that you know what else you have to spend money on, be honest about how much you really need in each category. Do you really need to spend $400/mo eating out? Could you cut it down to $200, or even better, $100?
Once you’ve decided on these totals, subtract them from your remaining balance.
6 | Whatever is left is your “splurge” or “hobby” money.
Once you’ve taken your income and subtracted your bills, savings goals, and misc. expenses, how much do you have left? (Hopefully not a negative amount! If so, go back and adjust.)
That’s your splurge / hobby money. Each month, that’s how much you have for clothes, books, stuff around the house, etc.
Plus, any additional money you get outside of your income (cash back from your credit cards, birthday money, etc.) can be added to this.
Feeling better about your money? You should be!
P.S. Here’s that budget spreadsheet again in case you missed it the first time!
Budgeting for Your Blog
Just like with your personal life, budgeting for your blog is super important. If you don’t, you could end up spending way too much money!
One time when I was out with a friend, I joked about how I could hide a $300 blog shopping spree from my fiance by labeling it gasoline. (I would never do that, for the record.) He reacted by asking how one could possibly spend $300 in one month on a blog.
Oh, honey. It would be far too easy.
I love how much free information bloggers share with each other, especially on webinars. But in exchange, you typically have to sit through a pitch for one of their products.
This is totally fair, and a great way to figure out what classes and products you would love to have your blogger hands on. But don’t get tempted every time! Instead, figure out what courses, themes, plugins, graphics, etc. you really want, then save up for them! It will make it all the more exciting when you’re actually able to purchase something for your blog.
How to Budget Your Blog
For most beginner and amateur bloggers (myself included!), your blog’s budget starts with your personal budget. It’s not the most ideal, but it’s really the most practical way to do things when you’re just starting out. After all, you can’t open a bank account and start charging things like web hosting and a domain name to an empty bank account. The money has to come from somewhere!
It’s still important to log these expenses, though, in case you start making an income and need to report taxes as a business. You could pay for something like QuickBooks, but I really like Manager because it’s free!
So, now that we know how to track our expenses for our blogs… how do we determine how much we can spend each month?
When you’re using your own bank account, it’s safest to start with your personal budget. Remember that “splurge / hobby” category we ended up with? That’s where your blogging fund is coming from!
Any blog costs should be taken out of that total. Think services like Mailchimp and web hosting as well as one-time costs like courses and website themes.
To avoid going over budget with unexpected costs, it might be a good idea to put those recurring service payments into your Bills category and treat them as a regular utility payment, just like rent and electricity. Then you just need to lower your splurge fund accordingly!
When you’ve got a relatively expensive hobby like blogging, it can be tough to budget for everything. By starting with a solid personal budget and adding in your hobby’s expenses, you can really take control of your finances make smart choices!
And don’t forget to download the free spreadsheet so you can track your finances easily!