Debt only exists if you make a decision to spend more money that you actually have. I have overspent all of my life and I have attributed this behaviour to my childhood, where I believe I was angry at never having the same as my friends in terms of the things that money could buy. I guess I must have decided that when I was older I was going to have anything I wanted. I have enjoyed my life and I did buy everything I wanted, but it did come at a price. Debt weighs heavy on the mind and it is the epicentre for so much pain and suffering. I had no idea how heavy the burden was until I managed to become debt free.
The month of June has been the first time that I have created a personal budget forecast. I have used them extensively in business, but never in my personal life. I have found the process to be a great success and more importantly I have found sticking to it quite interesting. This is how I created my first budget forecast.
I am a freelance writer with very little fixed income. What I had to do was to contact my usual employers and ask for a forecast. To be fair, each one of them supplied me with numbers and I have actually exceeded my target for the month.
I went through all of my bank statements and created a list of my regular direct debits. I then planned my recreational activities for the month and allocated the funds that I needed in order to enjoy myself.
The new rule in my life is to only spend what I earn. With this in mind I deducted my forecasted expenses from my forecasted income and was left with a positive figure. I then decided how I wanted to invest that positive figure and it was divided between, my son’s college fund, and Christmas savings, savings for a new home, retirement, investments and vacation. I actually have different online accounts for all of these savings funds and I can transfer money in a few clicks of a mouse.
4. Daily Spending Record
Each day I make a record of everything I spend on my Iphone. Then at the end of the day I check my bank account and place anything that I have spent into an excel spreadsheet. This process has really tightened up my willingness to spend money. At the end of the month I peruse my daily spending records and decide whether or not I need to reduce or increase my expenses part of my budget.
If you are single then this is a really fun way to keep control of your finances. If you are able to only spend what you earn, then your stress levels will reduce tenfold. Due to the need to check your finances daily, the habit actually becomes extremely enjoyable, and you find yourself trying to find more and more ways to exist WITHOUT spending money. This doesn’t mean I don’t spend money, because I do, it’s just more organised.
If you are in a relationship then this can become a little bit more complicated. If one of you is on board and trying to follow this process, and another person is not, then it can cause a rift between you. I recommend, that at the very least you have a conversation with your partner to explain why you are doing what you are doing. Ask them to join you, but if they decide to say no, explain that they are going to see changes as you start to spend money in line with your budget.
If you would like to use the template that I use then feel free – Budget Excel Template.
Photo courtesy of Tax Credit (cc & Flickr.com)