NOTE: This isn’t going to be a “how to budget” tutorial in case anybody stumbles across this entry in search of budgeting help. I’m just going to go over my own finances, so don’t yell at me if you try to follow my percentages and don’t get anywhere.
First and foremost, I am in a lot of debt. College is not cheap. My student debt is a little over 300% greater than the national average. I am also carrying around a bit of a credit card debt, but it is not outrageous by any means and I am not concerned with my ability to pay it off.
I am paid weekly, so making a budgeting spreadsheet was a little tricky for me. I had to divide monthly bills into the number of weeks per month, and I was sure to color code each balance because I will be adding money toward the bill every week until I take the lump sum at the end of month. Formatting in excel was a pain, but maybe that was because I wasn’t sure of exactly what I wanted before I started. I’m positive that I will have to work out a few formatting kinks as I go along, but I am pretty proud of the layout and colors I ended up with. That hardest part will be keeping up with this thing. Good thing I made it really pretty – it motivates me to use it!
The most surprising part of this whole process was seeing how much money I really have at my disposal. The last 4 years have gotten me adjusted to never having money. I was unfortunate in that whenever I did have money, it all went away very quickly because some kind of bill was about to pry it away from my cold, dead hands. Being broke constantly had its perks – I became very good at spending minimal amounts of money on unncessary things and I am also exceptional at finding awesome sales at the mall.
Now that I am making the “big bucks”, I have more money to play around with than I know what to do with. For the month of December, I have budgeted over $300 a week toward my “financial obligations” (student debt, credit cards, savings, retirement) because I have no idea what else to do with the $150 that was left when I got done making up the budget. Don’t get me wrong – this is great! – but I just never thought I’d be putting so much money toward debts because I didn’t know where else to put it.
So here’s an approximate breakdown of where I plan on putting all of my dolla’s once December rolls around:
Home (rent, parking fee, electricity) – 17%
Transportation (gas, maintenance, insurance) – 7%
Pet (food, vet, toys, etc) – 2.5%
Entertainment (movies, dinner, etc) – 5%
Health (gym, medicines) – 1.5%
Financial Obligations (debts) – 42%
Daily Living (groceries, clothes, hobbies, etc) – 9%
Vacation (this will go down significantly after my commencement) – 10%
Miscellaneous (Christmas, birthdays, etc) – 6%
I feel like I have left something significant out, but I will figure it out as I go along. In a few weeks, after I get a better idea of what I am spending on a weekly basis, I will be revising this, but I think this is a good starting point.
My biggest challenge is going to be sticking to the budget I have created. Self control has never been one of my strong points, and I would really like to figure out the best way to keep myself in line. Giving myself some money each month to “splurge” is a tactic I am considering, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of making a budget in the first place?
As I said, this budget is going to be revised in a few weeks. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips on how to better fine tune this thing, pleast let me know. And I am ESPECIALLY interested in tips on how to stick with it!