Setting Your Budget – Financially Free Friday

Hey all! New job, new goals, and adjusting to this rainy weather that fall has brought in Washington.  I’m still here, just trying to fit all the pieces together and find my flow again. Great lead in to my piece though….as of the end of September, I am completely out of credit card debt!! Woo!! Now, just to tackle those pesky school loans. 

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Celebratory confetti of course.

If you told me I would be able to live off $400 a month…I probably would have laughed. Granted, I will readily admit that I’ve been blessed in this life and that is a great deal of money compared to what some have. When I started this plan back in June, I had no idea the journey it would take me on or how far I would come in that time. Thanks to my friend and financial guru, Saraa, who helped start me on my path towards financial freedom, I have a newfound appreciation for the role that money plays in my life, along with excitement for getting myself out of debt.

I have debated putting numbers up here because the thought of that unsettled me a little bit. But, I figure, if I’m being transparent as possible, then perhaps others will know that it is doable! As of the beginning of June, my credit card balance was at $2,324. As of the end of September, it is officially at a big ol’ zero! After setting my budget, I had to adjust to a lifestyle where I actually thought about what I was purchasing and whether or not I needed it. *Gasp* (That doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things or save up for bigger purchases!) Also, when I started paying more attention to where my money was going, I would find it showing up in the craziest ways!

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Photo Credit: Tony Curl Flickr via Compfight cc

Once I started aggressively attacking my credit card debt, I must admit I didn’t want to stop. It was motivating watching my balance go down and knowing that once this smaller debt of mine was gone, that I would be able to start paying more towards my student loans. That was exciting! One day, my money won’t have to go to lenders but instead, I can use it how I’d like. The fog has cleared off the window and I’m beginning to glimpse into what a financially free future would look like. It looks pretty wonderful if you ask me.

My budget might end up looking different from yours and that’s alright. Find what works for you! My story is a just one of a variety of ways that you can go about tackling your debt. For me, Saraa and I allocated $400 a month. It’s all in cash so I know longer use my debit card anymore. This is to create a more “personal” relationship with you and your money since you actually feel the cash leaving your hand, as opposed to having to swipe your card. (Thanks, Dave Ramsey!) I do have a small cushion in my checking account (usually between $50-$150) so if something pops up I can usually cover it. And, before I forget, I do have an emergency fund set aside of $1,000. This is for any unexpected financial hiccups that may occur along the way such as car problems or unforeseen travel expenditures. (And no, that does not include shopping sprees, restaurants, or any unnecessary purchases.)

My $400 per month covers:

  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Restaurants
  • Entertainment
  • Miscellaneous

That’s it. When it’s gone, I get creative until my month resets again (which for me is the 1st). You’d be quite surprised what you’re capable of when you set yourself a limited amount to spend each month. Finally, one other practice I’ve grown accustomed to is making a list of my bills and allocating specific amounts from each paycheck. For example, I get paid weekly and have all my November bills covered with my previous paychecks from October, except for a little bit more from this week that will go towards my November spending.

What did we learn??

  • Find your start date for your budget, generally based on your pay period

  • Pay ahead!! (<—-Allocate specific money from each paycheck towards a certain bill.)

  • Set savings goals for yourself so you can look forward to other things along the way!

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    Photo Credit: The Law Of Attraction Flickr via Compfight cc

    Thanks so much for reading! Looking forward to sharing more tips, tricks, and updates along the way. Happy weekend friends!

 

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