Three tried and true tips for creating and sticking to a budget

Before creating the budget for my family and stumbling upon Tip #2, it felt like money magically showed up and magically disappeared. Does that sound familiar?

Knowing how much money is coming in and how much is going out is the best way to manage the gifts God has given you.

● TIP #1 WRITE OUT YOUR BUDGET.
A budget is simple: you need to calculate your expenses and subtract that from the amount of money coming in.

Get a notebook or a sheet of paper, and a pencil or pen and write out every dollar needed: Mortgage or rent, car payments, credit card payments, Everything! Then, review your purchases and estimate the amount you need for groceries and gas. Add it all up, and that’s the budget. I revisit the budget every 4 to-6 months, evaluating where I can be more responsible and make any changes in our spending.

● TIP #2 MONEY TO SAVINGS, NOT CHECKING.
Before I figured this out, all money went into the checking, and any “extra” would get spent without the chance of being saved. “Extra” money like tax refunds, that third check in a month twice a year, birthday money, bonus checks, and raises automatically get saved.

Everything gets paid out through the checking account. We have a set monthly budget (Tip #1), and that amount goes into the checking the last week of every month for the following month. Every dollar that’s paid out—mortgage, car loan, utilities, leaves via the checking account.

This system has enabled us to build up the savings because whatever money that’s come in that is “extra” hasn’t been spent away but saved.

● TIP #3 CHECK YOUR ACCOUNT FREQUENTLY
Online banking from home means I can log on and see all of my accounts on one page—checking, savings, mortgage, car loan, credit card, and the savings accounts we have set up for the children. I can set up transfers between all these different parts of our account in the bank system from my home computer.

Most transfers and payments occur automatically, but this doesn’t make me passive in managing the money that comes in. My husband and I check the account at least twice a month, if not weekly, making sure that we are being responsible stewards of the resources that are coming in. The goal is to have less than $100 in the checking the day before the new monthly budget goes in.

It isn’t fun or romantic or sexy, but knowing about the money you have will give you the power to live with security in the resources that God has given you.

Knowledge is power; you can’t manage what you don’t know.

July Marie Sanchez-Sadowski is a freelance writer who when she’s not writing homeschools her two children and plans camping trips for her family to the National Parks.

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One Response

  1. To be good stewards we should give back to God what he has given to us. What I fail to see in most budgets is tithing. God has given and will always provide we should give our first dollars back to Him then balance our budget.

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