The Bible is full of wisdom about our finances. In fact, of Jesus’ 39 parables, over half of them use money or work as a teaching tool. For many years the word “budget” invoked fear. I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin. It was only when I became a stay-at-home mom and was forced to budget that I realized the value and freedom it brings.
To create a budget you must make the time (sit down) to write everything down (count the cost). If you’re married, I suggest you do this with your partner. Here are a few key points:
- Make a list of your monthly expenses (bills) in date order.
- A few of our expenses (retirement, insurance, etc) are deducted automatically from my husband’s paycheck. Therefore, I don’t include those items in our budget and instead enter his income after those things are deducted. Try to keep things simple so you will use your budget!
- Our mortgage is due on the 1st of each month. Therefore, I contacted each company of our other expenses and asked if we could change the due date to the middle/end of the month. The majority of the companies were able to accommodate my request! (The exceptions were my gym membership and preschool because the due dates are the same for everyone). By doing this you are able to control your cash flow to make things more manageable.
- Budget for the bills that vary due to usage (gas, electric, water, etc) by getting an average. Simply write down your last 12 payments, add them up (total), and divide by 12 (months) to get the average. If you don’t know your last 12 payments then contact the company to ask the amounts.
- You MUST budget for the variable items (Fuel, Groceries/Toiletries, Miscellaneous, Entertainment). Click here for my Variable Budget document. Click here to read how to use this document.
- Don’t include a bonus or gift in your budget. Ideally, when you get a bonus or gift, it should go directly to savings.
- Your goal is to have a “zero” at the end of the month. This means that every cent has a purpose and goes somewhere.
- Consider using an online software system like Mint.com. It’s a FREE service that easily downloads your bank statements, lets you categorize transactions with a click of a button, and creates a budget complete with graphs. We started using it in 2010 and love it!
Philippians 4:11 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Accept the numbers. The best budget is an honest budget! Don’t write things down that you hope will happen or you wish was the expense. This is more common than you think. Remember, take it one step at a time and start the New Year out right!