While I am a huge fan of budgeting apps like the EveryDollar budget, I’m also a person who comprehends things so much better when I write them down. In fact, my first simple budget was nothing more than a piece of paper and a smartphone. Often times I still need to use this message just to help my brain really pay attention to where my money is going every month. It’s why I created an easy to use Budget Bundle. I needed something that was specific to my budgeting needs that was easy to follow and I knew others probably felt the same. Check out the budget bundle. So, if you don’t like worksheets, how do you start a budget with a piece of paper and a smartphone? I promise it’s a lot easier than you think.
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Before you get started dissecting your budget, it’s important that you make a goal for what you want to accomplish through your new simple budget.
Do you want to pay off debt?
Have more fun spending money?
Build a savings?
Whatever it is, whatever your goal, it’s important that you state that goal right off the bat and be as specific as possible.
For example, if you are wanting to put $200 toward debt, have $100 of spending money and you want to put $100 into savings, write those numbers down! This way, when you start your budget you have a goal to work toward.
The first thing you are going to want to do when you are starting your simple budget is to log on to your bank’s website or app. Doing this should allow you to access all of your current and past bank statements so that you can do a full analysis of your budget.
Once you have located your bank statements, use your smartphone’s calculator to find your average income over the last 3 months.
For example, if you got paid 2 times each month, in the last 3 months you will have received 6 paychecks. Right?
So what you are going to do to find your average income
Once you have done this, you are going to use the same method to determine how much you have been spending on average for gas, groceries, and entertainment.
Go through your bank statements for the last 3 months and use the same method to calculate your gas, grocery and entertainment averages.
Entertainment can fall under anything that isn’t a necessity. Things like going out to eat, alcohol, date nights or even things like cable TV. You get to choose what fits in this category but it’s also important
Once you have an idea of how much money you are spending each month, take a look at Dave Ramsey’s recommended budget percentages. They look a little something like this:
Now it’s important to find out if you are fitting within these budget recommended percentages.
Let’s say you are making an average of $3,500 per month and your house payment is $1,450. You should be putting 25% or less toward your house payment each month.
To find this number you will take your average monthly income (3,500) and multiply it by (.25) to get the answer of ($875)
Based on this budget calculation alone you can see that you are spending $575 above the recommended budget percentage! That’s a lot of dough! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The average American is putting 37% of their take-home pay toward their mortgage. However, just because it’s normal to be house poor does not mean it’s the right way to live.
A few years ago, our family found ourselves house poor and we decided to do something about it. We downsized our house by 2,000 square feet, reduced our mortgage by $600 per month and are now paying around 22% of our
Now, I understand that paying too much for a mortgage is not a quick cost that you can fix. What you need to do is take a look at the other areas where you might be overspending and put your focus toward them. One great way to do this is by using the Trim app. Trim will review your monthly spending and find areas where you could be saving money! They will even make the call to your service provider for you!
If you struggle like I did when it comes to keeping a spending cap on groceries, I have a few tips that can help you create a solid grocery budget that doesn’t leave you broke or without food at the end of the month.
Not a natural when it comes to planning healthy meals, especially on a budget? Take advantage of the $5 Meal Plan! This plan was created by a busy mother of 4 and is designed to help you stick to a budget and still feed your family well!
Get my best food saving tips:
Now that you’ve had a chance to really review your budget, write out some new goals based on the original goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the budgeting process.
Hopefully, you were able to find areas where you could create extra money in your budget in order to put toward your budget goals.
If you had a savings budget goal, there is a perfect savings account to get you started. The Savings Builder with
For debt payoff, there is nothing I recommend more than the Debt Snowball. See our full story on how we paid off $6,000 in 6 months.
In my Fun Sized Budget Bundle, my budget printout is crazy
Start at the top of your paper with your income for the week, 2 weeks or month. This method will vary depending on how you get paid.
Start subtracting all of your must-have bills. Subtract your calculated gas amount and grocery amount (because you should be taking this out of the bank in cash.)
When you are done with your budget, you should get to a complete $0 amount. When you do this it means you are in charge of literally all of your money.
Creating a Zero Based Budget means you have spoken for all of your money and you choose where you spend it all.
Now, if you’re like me, and you love hands-on planning, grab my budget bundle to help you in all areas of your finances. If this all makes your head spin, use the