How to Create a Budget When You Suck at Money

I’m sure you’ve been told a thousand times how important having a budget is. I’m also sure that you’ve assumed that your suckiness with money also defines your ability to create and stick to a budget.

The truth is, we’ve all sucked at money at some point in our lives. Do you want to know how to change that? Make a budget you can stick to using goals that are important to you.

That might sound confusing to you right now, so let me hold your hand and walk you through it. By the end, you’ll finally feel like you aren’t doomed to suck at money for the rest of your life. Ready? Let’s do this!

How Budgeting Can Change Your Money Skills

I know what you’re thinking. Really, I do. I was once in your shoes and it wasn’t that long ago. You’re thinking there’s no way some stupid budget can help you be better with money.

That’s exactly what I thought too. In fact, the only reason I created my first budget was to disprove this theory. Spoiler Alert: I was unable to disprove this theory. Chances are, you’ll find it impossible to disprove this theory too.

When you start a budget, you’re finally going to be able to track your money coming in and going out. You will know for sure what’s going on once you choose the right budgeting method for you. No more digging through the floorboards of your car for every receipt from the past month to try piecing together why you’re short on money for bills. Been there, done that!

Creating Budgeting Goals Will Put You in a Better Place Financially

As you build your budget, you will often find yourself spending more than you have to spend. Maybe this isn’t the case with you and that’s a good thing, but no matter what your spending habits are, creating budgeting goals will put you in a better place.

Think about why you might benefit from a budget. Do you have a lot of debt you’d like to pay off? Would you like to build up your savings? Are you saving for a big purchase? Dig deep and think about what benefit you might get from this, even if you don’t have a high opinion of budgets right now. That will change, I promise.

Once you have your big budgeting goal, you can then think of bite-sized goals that will lead you up to achieving your big goal. You can’t take on your big goal at once. It will seem so out of sight. It is much less overwhelming to take it one step at a time.

Let’s say your big budgeting goal is to pay off $20,000 in debt. That’s a pretty big number. Obviously, you’re not going to pull $20,000 out of your pocket at the end of the money and achieve your goal. Instead, you could set a smaller goal to pay $500 towards your debts. You could take this a step further and create a checklist of your debts and check each one off once they’re paid off. This will also show progress towards your big goal.

How to Create a Budget

Creating a budget probably seems scary and a little overwhelming, especially when you suck at money. It doesn’t have to be scary. It’s my hope to take you through each step with little to no overwhelm.

Step 1: Decide the reason behind your budget

Debt — If debt is the reason behind your budget, you would choose between the snowball and the avalanche method. Personally, I have found the avalanche method to be more effective because it allows you to pay off your debt in a shorter amount of time. Nobody wants to keep those lingering debts longer than necessary, right?

Minimize Spending — Are you a little spendy? Do you spend more than you make? Then the envelope system is right up your alley. Put the plastic away and set your budgets for all of your living expenses using cash only.

Savings — Whether you’re building up your savings account or saving for a big purchase, the reverse budget is best as it allows you to save first and then focus on your expenses. No more number crunching either! Heck yeah! You set a number to save and the rest that’s left is for your monthly expenses. Simple, right?

Well-rounded — If you’re looking for a budget that covers most of your bases, the 50/30/20 is perfect for you. It’s great for beginners who just want to get their feet wet. It’s simple. 50% of your monthly income goes to your needs, 30% to your wants, and 20% to debt or savings. I told you it was simple!

Step 2: Figure out your monthly net pay

Add up what’s left after taxes and deductions from your paychecks, side hustles, and any other way you produce an income. That’s your monthly net pay.

Step 3: Figure out your monthly expenses

This is usually the most daunting task when it comes to creating a budget. Hey, I’m just being honest. Do your best to account for everything you spend money on each month. You can re-evaluate your budget each month until you know it’s completely accurate if you find numbers being off from forgetfulness at first. Once you have your number, it’s time to get to work. Don’t fret, the end is near…and so is financial stability!

Step 4: Figure out your savings

Regardless of the budgeting method you chose, you will be saving money each month. Go back to your budgeting method and do any math necessary to figure out how much money to save each month.

Step 5: Put it all together

If you’ve made it this far, you’re dedicated and on your way to being a budget master. Now for the fun part. Let’s put all of your numbers together.

Monthly Net Pay-Monthly Savings-Monthly Expenses=?

This formula should equal zero so you aren’t spending or saving more than you’re making and you’re not creating more debt for yourself.

Let’s say you make $4000 per month and you’re saving $1000 per month and your monthly expenses are $3000.

$4000–1000–3000=$0

Hooray! It’s $0! That means you’re only spending and saving what you’re making. This means your budget will put you on the path to financial wellness. Heck yes!

Please note that if your number is $0, that doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments to make it even better. You can always stand to lower your monthly expenses or increase your monthly income. There are tons of side gigs out there to make some extra cash.

If your number isn’t $0, you aren’t a lost cause. Depending on where you were financially before creating your budget, this is exactly why having a budget is so beneficial. You want to see where your money is going so you can tweak it to help your finances and reduce your overwhelm.

How to Save More Money

If after evaluating your budget you feel you need to save more money, don’t feel like it’s an impossible task. It’s not, I promise. There are a few websites and apps I can recommend that I have personally used to save more money.

Trim — Trim is a great website that can monitor your subscriptions and bill payments to then negotiate for a lower rate on your behalf.

LendKey — LendKey is a great resource for refinancing your student loans. It’s what I used to knock off close to $7,000.

How to Make More Money

If you’ve saved all you can save, it might be time to think of ways you can make more money. The good news is there are a ton of ways you can start a side gig for extra cash. Below are just a few ideas.

  1. Surveys
  2. Freelance Writing
  3. Virtual Assisting
  4. Services on Fiverr
  5. Direct Sales
  6. Sell on Poshmark
  7. Sell on eBay
  8. Fulfilled by Amazon
  9. Dropshipping
  10. YouTube
  11. Affiliate Marketing
  12. Blogging
  13. Pet Walking
  14. Pet Sitting
  15. House Sitting
  16. Sell on Etsy
  17. Perform Tasks with Task Rabbit
  18. Drive for Uber
  19. Drive for Lyft
  20. Babysit

As you can see, there are a ton of ways you can grow your income so you’re not adding any debt to your plate. Choose something you would enjoy doing that can also produce a nice chunk of extra cash for you.

Keep Track & Stay Consistent

The best way to stay successful with your budget is to continue to keep track month after month. Re-evaluate as you need to and modify where necessary. You want your budget to set you up on the path to financial success. When you stay consistent, your days of sucking at money will be long gone and you will be proud of your budgeting mastery.

Remember, it takes 21 days to form a habit. At first, budgeting will feel like real work. As you start to see the benefits, you will almost find it to be fun. You might start challenging yourself and rewarding yourself for a job well done each month. Have fun and happy budgeting!

Koley is a freelance writer for hire who specializes in personal finance and digital marketing. Her content attracts, engages and boosts conversions. Learn more about her and her services on her website — Koley Konnected.