You know how some people just love numbers, love plotting out things on plain graph paper and punching things into calculators. They probably/definitely have a pencil behind their ear. Those are the kind of people who (I assume) budget.
The idea of me doing that, honestly, it’s quite equivalent to the idea of me eating a salad for fun, or reading a scientific journal while taking a bubble bath… it’s just not me.
So I never budgeted. I figured, “I have decent head on my shoulders. I’ll be able to just eyeball whether or not I can afford something.”
December, when I started my “Debt Free Journey”, I was least excited about budgeting. I imagined all of the fun things about life slowing fading away. There would be no more nice coffee, no more shoes, no more celebratory dinners.
Until… my incredibly wise father stumbled upon a video which would honestly change the entire game for me.
“Favorite Daughter Emily”
It’s an adorable Youtube account and admittedly, as my dad pushed play I didn’t expect much.
As she started plotting out her monthly budget, she brought out stickers, and colored pens, and she chit-chatted while she drew beautiful categories. I thought, “Oh this is MY KINDA GAL”. She was transparent, I could see her expenditures, she was organized, but in a cute way, it just seemed like this was someone that had the same creative heart as I do.
When I say I took it and RAN WITH IT…
I. RAN. WITH. IT.
I bought a budget planner with llamas on it, because why not?
My mom found some adorable stickers for me – yet another reason she’s the best mom. I’ve since found some more good ones on Amazon.
And for the last 6 months I’ve been budgeting every single month and can honestly say I have LOVED doing it. Best of all, I have managed to pay off thousands and thousands in debt with my strict budget, I’ve saved more money than I have ever saved in my life and not once did it feel boring or “number-y”. It really works!
The key for me was that I budgeted for things that I love. Sure, I could probably save more money without the $35/two weeks for fancy espresso pods, but I don’t believe in sacrificing absolutely everything. That’s not sustainable for me. Gazellle intensity is mentioned a lot with Dave Ramsey and I do believe it works. This is just my version of gazelle intensity.
I can’t even begin to express how much freedom this has brought me. I walk into a craft store and know I’ve got $40 to spend on whatever I want and it’s exhilarating.
So now that you know all of the back story for how I came to actually like budgeting again, I want to show y’all how I budget every month.
In a lot of calendars you’ll have this page after the monthly view for notes. This is the space I use.
I like to make my budget look cute with some fun stickers.
I then plot out three areas. This is not how “Favorite Daughter Emily” does it, but this is what I have found works best for me. Then it’s just a matter of filling in the blanks.
So now you can see I’ve filled in the blanks. Most of the things in my “Bills” section are fixed and don’t change much. For the “Lifestyle” section I look at the month ahead and make adjustments off of what is going on in my life. For example, if I there’s a Birthday, I add money into my “Misc” category for that.
I’m not going to show you my full budget just because I’m not sure I want everyone in the world to know every aspect of my finances haha. But I just plug my paycheck in at the top and work my way down until every dollar has been accounted for.
Now we get to my favorite part, the part where the rubber meets the road so to speak… the STICKERS. I know there are tons of apps that keep track of all of your spending, but being a visual person, seeing everything in front of me just blows that outta the water.
I have stickers for each category, “Dining” is a crockpot, “Groceries” is a shopping cart, “Misc” is an exclamation point, you get the idea.
Every time I make a purchase I have to go log it in the monthly view portion of my calendar.
At the end of the week I add it all up for each category and monitor how I’m doing. Once I’m done with the two weeks (I’m paid biweekly) I add it all up again and write it down in my budget page just so I can keep tabs on what categories need to be adjusted or modified.
For every day that I don’t spend any money I get a sticker. Some months it’s a red heart like above, and some months it’s a gold star. You might laugh and think this is the silliest thing you’ve ever heard BUT IT WORKS.
I will literally be standing in a store and think, “Dang it, I can’t get this because I want to put a sticker on my day today”.
WHO AM I????
I could’ve NEVER imagined this is the type of person I’d be.
Largely, this whole new part of my life is thanks to my parents. I am going to get emotional now, but I would not have been okay this year had it not been for my budget. I really mean that. I’ve never been the type to keep large amounts of money in savings and had I not started this new chapter in December because of my dad’s incredible insight into how my personality and brain works… his constant encouragement, willingness to look at endless pictures of stickers and act like he was equally as excited by gold stars as I was… I genuinely don’t even want to think about how panicked, fearful and emotional the last 3 months might have been. Instead, I’ve been so blessed to have weathered all of the uncertainty, challenges and change with very little fear. So to my wonderful and wise dad, thank you. I couldn’t have done any of this without you and feel so incredibly privileged to have a father that cares enough about me to equip me with the resources to fly on my own. I owe you everything.
Ah okay, I’m pulling myself together now.
Hope you liked my ‘lil ol budgeting blog. See you on another Thrifty Thursday!