Confession time… I have never had a formal budget. I would put money aside for my bills, but as far as groceries, gas, and all my other spending, it was a free for all. Honestly, I was scared of writing a budget because it meant I would have to face up to my bad spending habits.
The issue with not taking time to budget and actually plan how to spend your money, is that you put yourself at the mercy of your own fear and bad habits. It wasn’t a sustainable life style and I felt perpetually broke and stressed.
I was doing it to myself, of course. Although I didn’t realize it then, by not writing a budget and taking control of my money, I was choosing to be stressed, scared, and broke. It was easy to come up with excuses, usually that I was too busy. In reality, I just wanted to watch an unhealthy amount of Netflix and pretend everything was okay.
I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree last May, and from then until a month and a half ago, my job situation (and life) was crazy. I began graduate school in June, so I was only able to work part-time, and then I started student teaching, which is essentially a full-time job you aren't paid for. At that point, I was really broke and actually way too busy. I decided to take a leave of absence for personal reasons, and find a new day job in the meantime.
After how stressful my life had been until I was hired, I promised myself that I would never let myself be so ignorant about my money that my bad spending habits controlled, and damaged, my life.
I was definitely nervous when I first sat down to draft my budget, but really, it was a painless activity. I knew what my bills were, after all, I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about them for the last two months. And it was fairly easy to estimate my average spending on gas and groceries. For the first time, I discovered how much I could, and now do, put into savings. (You’re welcome, Future-Kenzie.)
Managing your money isn’t as simple as writing one budget, it requires you to assess and adjust your spending regularly. My first budget was different from my second, and I’m sure my third budget will be different, and more accurate, as well.
Pair writing your budget with tracking your spending (article coming later this week) and revise your budget every month. It’s less scary each time. Knowing what I can afford and when I have to say no to a purchase or an outing has reduced my stress levels by around 70-80%.
If you feel constantly stressed about money, scared about paying your bills, or in denial about how much you need a budget, I understand. That was me only a month and half ago. Starting is the hardest part, I promise you. You can do this. Pick a day, and make writing a budget your only priority. Bring a money savvy friend for moral support, or even work with another first-time budget-er and work through it together. They make apps to help streamline the process if pen and paper isn’t your style.
I’m here to tell you that you can do this. You don’t have to live in fear of your finances. Choose to take control. It’s your money and you work hard earning it; now its time to make sure it works for you.
Written by Mckenzie Candalot, Staff Writer – Mckenzie Candalot graduated from the College of Idaho with a B.A. in English Literature. She has a passion for written language and helping other women overcome financial hardships. When not blogging or reading, she enjoys cooking and spending time with loved ones.