1. On paper. On purpose.
(It doesn’t have to be glamorous). It’s going to sound a little elementary to start with this as Tip #1, but a budget is only as effective as it is used. Budgets that do not get sed are, for all intents and purposes, null and void. To start, make a budget that works for you! It doesn’t have to make sense to you. (Case in point: my husband thinks my budget excel sheet is too busy visually but it all makes sense to me!)
2. Broad Categories.
At first, use broad categories when creating your budget, such as groceries, amenities, date night, etc. You don’t need to overstimulate your budgeting form with extensive use of columns.
3. The Four Walls.
Taken straight from Dave himself (Dave Ramsey in case you aren’t familiar), the four walls are food, clothing, transportation, and shelter. These four subcategories need to be the first four that complete your budget because these are necessities of your daily life.
4. Done monthly.
The best budgets take into consideration your period of expenses over the course of a month. This way you aren’t trying to implement spending or purchase decisions paycheck to paycheck. It also allows you to take your tithe from your gross pay and set that amount aside first. As a personal note, my husband and I are super passionate about our tithe and have seen God do immensely more with 90% than we could do with 100%.
5. Track your expenses.
This may take a full month or more to get a good baseline report, but will pay off dividends in terms of your budget. In order to have an accurate budget, you need to know where each of your dollars is going. A word to the wise, this may take you intentionally saving receipts to nail down where all your dollars go. You must assign each of your dollars to a category before your dollars leave your wallet without being assigned!
Once you get the hang of budgeting, you have a freedom with money you may haven’t experienced before. It’s freeing and lets you live the life you’re designed to live!