Why you need to learn to Budget and Organize Your Finances
When learning to budget, it isn’t always easy. I’m the type of person who needs to actually write it down on paper instead of using an excel spreadsheet on the computer. I also set bill reminders in my phone about 3-5 days before the bill is due so I can go online and pay the bill. This just makes any life easier to either go pay the bill or make sure the auto payment is set up to go through.
I am learning to budget not due to being behind on bills but due to the fact I have a good bit of credit card debt. My goal is to get this paid off. I also have to finish paying off my student loan.
Budgeting may seem crazy when you are already behind on bills but budgeting can be a way to help you or of this situation. It shows you what needs to be adjusted within your budget. For some this can be simple as cutting back on groceries or giving up cable. Other people may cut back on eating out whether at a restaurant or fast food.
Check out this book by Dave Ramsey!
Step 1: Review and Asses Your Financial Situation
This is where you sit down and look at the big picture. You’ll want to do this which can be scary at first but it’s the best way to get it figured out.
You’ll want to write down what you make each month after taxes and everything comes out. The amount that actually goes into your account. Knowing how much work you have ahead is the best way to turn your situation around.
After writing down how much you make each month, you’ll need to write down EVERY expense. Even if it’s only a few dollars, it still needs to be written down for your budget. Be sure to include bills that occur monthly such as mortgage, utilities, credit cards, loans. Some bills do occur every other month or every few months. If it’s a bill that occurs every other month, take the amount and divide it in half and budget that amount each month.
Example: My bill for trash is every 3 months for $60 but I budget $20/month for it.
Once all your bills and debts are written down you can place them into different categories: monthly bills, debt, and variable expenses.
For monthly bills: This includes your mortgage/rent, utilities, cell phone bill and other similar things.
Debt: Write down all your debt whether or not you are paying it off currently. This is credit cards or loans. Similar things to these as well should also be placed in this category.
Variable Expenses: These change month to month such as gas and food expenses. Household items are also included in this category.
It may be helpful to do this all on a spreadsheet. Whether you prefer handwriting it or using excel on the computer is your choice. Whichever makes it easier for you.
One other thing I should mention, if you are behind on bills don’t skip or on a Savings category. It may seem silly or useless but it totally isn’t. This will help you if something unexpected comes up. Having money in savings may keep things from going from bad to worse. Some budgets will allow for $25 while others may allow for $100 or more.
Figure it the bills you are behind on and work on those first. Nothing is worse than being behind on bills. You don’t want to fall further behind on bills either. For each bill you are behind on, list your past due amount. This will show you how much exactly you need to pay for those bills.
Step 2: Figure our what your options are
Calling your credit card company and see if they are willing to work with you. This can be lowering your monthly payment or even trying to switch to a credit card with a lower interest rate. Simply explain your situation and they will hopefully be willing to work with you.
They will hopefully give you a few options to pick from. Also, they may allow you to split up the past due amount over a few months by adding a portion of it to your existing bill.
Does this seem embarrassing? Honestly, they get calls about this all the time, you aren’t alone. They are there to help you. Be polite as they probably have had many angry customers already and kindness is bound to get you farther than being rude or yelling.
It’ll be easier to negotiate when you are kind and they are more likely going to want to help you. If they say they can’t politely ask to speak to their supervisor or superior. Be respectful and courteous but also confident. If you can afford a $125 monthly payment, start off at $100 so you have a bit of wiggle room. If the best they can offer is $150 accept it and see what you can cut back on within your budget to make it work for you. Stay positive and keep strong as you most likely will get someone willing to negotiate with you but it may not be the perfect situation.
Step 3: Identify Problem Areas You Have
So far you may have had a few problem areas come up. This can be the fact you realize you spend too much on clothes or food. Maybe you’re simply an impulse shopper. We all have at least one downfall.
Mine is that I’m an impulse shopper. I’ll go to a store planning to get one item for $5-$10 and end up spending $25-$40 or more. It’s something I’m working on and have improved on recently.
Recognizing your weaknesses is important to know where you l need more work within your budget. This will help you manage your budget better.
Step 4: Cut Back on Expenses
This step isn’t about cutting back on a mortgage or rent payment by saying to move. It’s more on cutting back on things you can such a cable or your cell phone bill.
You can lower your cable plan or get rid of it altogether and go with a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu or even Amazon Prime. Lowering your cell phone plan to give you less data usage or something can help cut a small cost as well.
Do you have to have your morning coffee from Starbucks? If so, you can cut that cost by making yourself coffee at home. Looking for some coffee recipes? Click here to view this blog post on some yummy coffee ideas.
This is a tough step for sure but you can’t skip it. You will need to make some serious cuts and decisions to get yourself back on track. It’ll be extremely hard but it certainly must be done.
Step 5: Earn More Money
This isn’t something that is possible for everyone. The best way to get caught up on debt and bills is to increase your income. This can be from working more hours or getting a second job. Not enough time to get a part-time job? Trying selling stuff you no longer need or use at a garage sale or on Craigslist. Find a part-time job where you create your own hours such as Uber or Lyft or a similar service. Child care could even be a good option if you enjoy kids and have some experience. There’s so many opportunities, you Simply have to look and do some research. Feeling lazy? Here’s a good book on side hustles you can check out.
Are you crafty? If you are able to create a product that’s handmade you could open up a shop on Etsy and begin that as a side job.
Step 6: Update your Budget
Every month be sure to keep track of your spending. Updating it frequently will help to make sure you are staying on track. It seems challenging, almost impossible to get caught up on bills when you’re behind but it isn’t impossible. Remember that this is only temporary and that when you get it figured out and get caught up you’ll be in a much better place financially.
With proper tips, planning, and techniques it isn’t difficult to get caught up and even get ahead. It takes a good amount of patience though along with dedication and good choices. All of this combined will help turn your financial situation around.
If you haven’t heard of ebates, you should definitely check it out. You can earn cash back when shopping online. Only shop though if it’s within your budget and something you NEED not something you just want.
Ibotta is another great app as it earns you money back as well but on groceries. Food and items you’d normally purchase so it’s a great app in that aspect.