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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BUDGETING

Spoiler alert: Even smart multi-millionaires have a budget. And what about the multi-millionaires who don’t have a budget? They lose their fortune, just like my family did a couple of decades ago. One big lesson I learned from my family about money is this: become financially savvy and use a budget.

. . .

After researching personal finance for YEARS, trying a ton of budgeting apps and methods, I finally decided to create my own simple budgeting system I would actually stick to. So here’s the ultimate guide to setting up a budget that you’ll actually stick to:

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BUDGETING

. . .

Open 4 bank accounts

These 4 accounts will keep you organized and help you build wealth without overwhelm. Check out more about the 4 bank accounts here. 

. . .

Stop using credit cards

Seriously. You’re setting yourself up for failure. Credit cards are evil and are keeping you stuck in financial mediocrity. If you want to be in debt like everyone else, keep using it. If you want to build wealth and have true financial peace, cut it up baby.

. . .

Team up with your spouse

Before you create a budget, you’ll want to sit down with your spouse. Building wealth without being on the same page as your spouse is basically impossible, so don’t do this by yourself. Trust me, go to marriage counseling if you need to but it is vital you are on the same page when it comes to your finances and goals. You are a team. 

. . .

Determine your income

Add up your combined monthly income after taxes.

. . .

Review your last 3 months of expenses

Review your last 3 months of expenses (cash, credit card statements, debit card statements, etc.)

. . . 

List all your expenses for each month

List all your reoccurring expenses for each month and write down what day of the month they’re due. This is the time to cut services, call providers to lower your plans, and only keep things you truly need. Simplify my friends!

. . .

List your expenses by week 

Use a simple list on your phone or computer. Fancy apps are a waste of money and time. List your expenses by week and put the day it is typically due in front of it. I like to put a checkbox next to each item and I check it off once a week as I review my budget. At the end of the week, I write down the total amount I spent. If I went over budget I ask myself why? Was it an expense I did not plan for? Or did I overspend because I bought something unnecessary? Also, I like to divide my mortgage into 4 weeks to stay more organized. And I grocery shop once a week. Set-up auto-pay and create a unique budget each month and agree with your spouse what will be included.

Example Budget:

WEEK ONE (1st – 7th of the month)
[x] 1 – $5 Mortgage 
[x] 1 – $5 Groceries/Household items
[x] 1 – $5 Gas
[x] 1 – $5 Apple iTunes 
[x] 2 – $5 Health Insurance 
[x] 6 – $5 Car Insurance
[x] 7 – $5 Barber
[x] 7 – $5 Fun/Restaurant
[x] 7 – $5 Clothes/Make-up/Tan
GOAL: $
TOTAL: $
WEEK TWO (8th – 14th of the month)
[x] 8 – $5 Mortgage
[x] 8 – $5 Tolls
[x] 8 – $5 Groceries/Household items
[x] 8 – $5 Phone
[x] 11 – $5 Security Service
GOAL: $
TOTAL: $
 
WEEK THREE (15th – 21st of the month)
[x] 15 – $5 Mortgage
[x] 15 – $5 Groceries/Household items
[x] 15 – $5 Internet
[x] 18 – $5 Dental Insurance 
[x] 18 – $5 Gas 
[x] 20 – $5 Car
GOAL: $
TOTAL: $
 
WEEK FOUR (22nd – 31st of the month)
[x] 21 – $5 Mortgage
[x] 21 – $5 Groceries/Household items
[x] 22 – $5 TV
[x] 28 – $5 Electric 
[x] 28 – $5 Water
[x] 28 – $5 Health Savings
[x] 28 – $5 Credit Card Payment (if you have one)
GOAL: $
TOTAL: $
. . .

Live below your means

After reviewing your budget, make sure you are living well BELOW your means. This means your monthly income should be much higher than your monthly expenses. This might mean selling your car or cutting cable, but you MUST live below your means if you want to create real wealth. 

Monthly Income: $

Monthly Expenses: $

Amount Remaining: $

. . .

List your debt and pay it off FAST

Make a grand list of all the debt you and your spouse have in order from smallest to largest amount. Make a promise to each other that you will no longer use debt and you will save for things you want or need. This is real wealth y’all. Any money you have left in your budget each month should go towards paying off all your debt, except your mortgage.

Example Debt List:

[x] $5 Credit Card 1
[x] $50 Credit Card 2
[x] $500 Credit Card 3
[x] $2,000 Jewlery Loan
[x] $5,000 Furniture Loan
[x] $20,000 Car Loan
[x] $60,000 Student Loans
[x] $300,000 House Loan

. . .

Fund your emergency account

Save 6 months of expenses and do not touch it unless there is an emergency.

. . .

Fund your savings account

Save for big planned or unplanned expenses. For example new furniture, car repairs, house repairs, cars, etc.

. . .

Fund your retirement account

Invest 15% of your income in a Roth IRA

. . .

Fund your kid’s college account

Invest around $150 a month (from birth) for each kid’s college 529 account

. . .

Pay off mortgage

Pay off your mortgage early!

. . .

Invest, Have fun, and give!

Congratulations! You worked hard and can now have your income work for you.

Cristina Neal

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