“Money should be mastered, not served.” – Publilius Syrus
“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.” – Calvin Coolidge
This post is all about equipping you to budget effectively by removing any and all barriers to your learning curve. Most importantly it’s about making sure you have a tool, namely the “master list”, that will help you stay on track with your budgeting.
For so many people, budgeting is just enough like rocket science to make them stay away. And stay away they do to their own financial peril. 78% of the American population lives paycheck to paycheck and have cripplingly bleak financial situations. And we can only change this one person, one couple, one family at a time.
I made this list to help you avoid the most often-forgotten budget items. I don’t want for you to have any inducements to walk away from this process. I believe that budgeting is your #2 life skill behind breathing and I want for you to become an expert at it, so you can master your money, accomplish your goals and get on with your life. :)
I’m sure that, by now, there have been plenty of voices (Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Clark Howard, your grandma, etc.) who have told you how important living on a budget is. I’m sure you’ve heard how it’s “the responsible” thing to do and all of that “jazz”. Maybe it’s been helpful, maybe it hasn’t.
I want to reframe the question of “why” for a second and see if I can convince you (if you’re not convinced already) of the importance of budgeting as .
The truth is the “why” of getting on and staying on a budget is very personal, but it does fall neatly into all of the following scenarios:
So undoubtedly, the “why” will vary person to person, family to family but it generally falls into one of the above categories.
And I’m curious, what would you say your “why” is? It’s important to ask that question because, if you’re not yet on a budget, it may require a herculean effort up front. Knowing your “why” will help pull you through any discomfort.
Lamentably, something I don’t hear talked about a lot is the fact that budgeting is an acquired skill. In other words, no one is a “born budgeter”. In fact, in my decade plus experience as a money coach, I’ve yet to meet the first person who’s gotten it “all right” during their first sitting. In my experience both personally and as a coach, it takes about 90 days of budgeting on paper to get it right.
In fact if you’re new to it, here’s our free guide to how to start your first successful budget: Budgeting 101: How To Build A Budget You Can Actually Stick To
One of the biggest hang ups as you’re moving through your first 90 days of budgeting is all the random stuff that you just don’t think about including.. It’s normal, I promise you. And the purpose of today’s post is to equip you with a tool that will help reduce the likelihood that this will be a significant hang up for you.
I put this list of the “most missed” expenses we’ve seen in our years coaching people through the budgeting process. My recommendation is that you do a rough first draft of your budget without this list and THEN go back through it WITH the list.
So, what exactly is a budget, anyway? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that question? A budget is really nothing more than a cash flow plan. In other words it’s a plan for the cash that comes into and flows out of your household. A budget is really nothing more than a “roster” of categories and items that assign a name and a job to each one of those units of currency that flow into your household.
Simple in concept for sure, a little more complex in execution.
The problem is that this particular “plan” involves “money”. And for some reason, money has all kinds of thoughts, emotions and habits attached to it, good, bad or indifferent.
If you’ve never done it successfully in the past, getting and staying on a budget can require a herculean effort on the front end. It’s an effort that most people either 1) never bother with in the first place or 2) walk away in frustration if they don’t experience success with some semblance of “right now”.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
The unavoidable fact is that getting on and staying on a budget is absolutely pivotal if you ever want to win with money. Why? In short because our finances are WAY too complicated to try to keep it all straight in our “little noggins”.
Think about it. How many transactions do you execute on a daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. I mean really, who could account for that “off the top of their head”. Very few I’m sure and neither you nor I are one of them. :)
A budget is pivotal because it removes the necessity of constantly doing “mental math” to figure out how much money you have (or not). I like to think of a budget as your “external brain” for your finances. It’s just a mechanism for you to declutter your mind from all the minutiae of what’s coming in and what’s going out.
And experientially, I’ve coached hundreds of students out of debt and THEY ALL, BAR NONE attest to the fact that they never would have gotten control of their finances without being on a consistent, accurate budget.
Actually, I cover all of the “why, what and how to” of a budget in this post: Budgeting 101: How To Build A Budget You Can Actually Stick To.
So, now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that a budget is super important, let’s talk about the “how to” and discuss this list for helping you master it asap.
The basic “how to” of a budget is as follows:
Again, I cover the “how to” much more deeply in this post, which also includes a detailed video walkthrough: Budgeting 101: How To Build A Budget You Can Actually Stick To.
So, once you’ve decided to get your finances organized and get on a budget you’re going to forget stuff. It’s just part of the process, unfortunately. My aim as a coach is to always eliminate or reduce, as much as possible, the overwhelm and frustration of the budgeting learning curve. That’s what this list is meant to do.
And again, in my decade plus experience as a money coach, I’ve observed that it normally takes about 90 days of effort (on paper) to “get it right”. As such, I’m always looking for “hacks” to help my students shorten the learning curve and get to budgeting mastery asap.
That’s why I created this list for you. So, take your time, have patience with yourself and don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.
So, let’s get into it.
As you’re getting your budgeting chops together, use this checklist to help you make sure you’re not missing anything. The biggest “misses” are usually the more irregular or seasonal expenses as they’re not normally daily “on your mind”.
Here we go. Please feel free to leave a comment below if there’s anything you think I’m missing and I’ll add it to the list.
If you want a downloadable/printable PDF of this post and list, click here.
Are there any that I missed? Let me know in the comments below and I may actually add them to the post.
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So, we’ve established the “why, what and how to” of doing a budget and, equally importantly, we’ve covered some of the pitfalls. The idea is to get you up and running with a budget as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
We’ve also established that, if you’re brand new to budgeting or relearning after a long absence, it’s likely going to take upward of 90 days for you to reach a comfortable level of competence.
Using this list every time you sit down to write or to update your budget, will help remove overwhelm, frustration and possibly even the temptation to walk away from the process altogether.
My motivation for creating content like this is to help you to get on and stay on the budgeting bandwagon and to learn to expertly use it as a tool to master your finances.
My next steps are to encourage you to:
What To Do Next
Now that you have that as a basic framework for budgeting, the next step is to get as granular as possible with the rest of your financial life. I want to offer you another completely free resource that will help you map out your money with even more confidence.
Ready to get total control over your money? Introducing My FREE 8 Steps To Erase Debt Guide.
These are the steps I personally followed to obliterate $43,000+ of debt in 2.5 years.
Maybe your number is bigger, maybe it’s smaller. Either way the principles are the same and I want you to have them.
I’ve created a simple, easy to follow “8 Steps To Erase Debt” guide that you can use as your foundation as you navigate the absolute annihilation of your debt forever.
Here are some additional options to help you accomplish your personal finance goals:
And finally, I want to encourage you and challenge you to get started in this process. You can do this by downloading this blogpost as your guide. The downloadable pdf contains all the printable forms and instructions you need to get this process started.
So, I’d LOVE to hear from you. The biggest compliment you can give me as your coach is to share your progress and your takeaways in the comments below.
I wish you nothing but great success in your personal finance endeavors and please let me know how I can help you accomplish your goals.
To your freedom,
Your Virtual Money Coach
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