Four Steps to Properly Creating a Personal Budget
Budgeting is usually not very fun. It can be hard to say “no" to small impulse purchases. However, creating and sticking to a budget can help secure your financial stability. There are many guides and tips out there, but a lot of them can be confusing or unhelpful. Budgeting doesn't mean you have to cut all of the fun out of your life. It is just a tool to keep your spending to a reasonable level. Here are a few steps to take in creating and maintaining your personal budget.
1. First, record your spending habits
Pick a period of time you would like to set your budget to last. This is usually a recurring monthly budget, but you can base it on your paycheck cycle too. Once you've decided when your budget will reset, start recording your purchases over the chosen period of time. Record everything you buy from rent to groceries to movie tickets. This will allow you to see how much you're spending and where. It is especially useful if you have multiple bank accounts and credit cards. After the set period is over, you can use your spending log as the basis for your budget.
2. Next, choose what you can cut back on
Go through your spending log and decide what you can cut back on. Mark out your essentials first. You probably can't change your rent or mortgage payment. You should also set aside a decent amount for groceries, gas and other necessities. Then, you can choose what frivolous expenses to cut back on. Maybe you should stop eating out so much or stop spending so much on movies or video games. You can still have money set aside for fun and games, but make sure it's at an affordable level.
3. Create specific categories with set spending limits
This is often referred to as the envelope system. Create categories for all of your expenses. Rent, utilities and all other essential expenses can go into one category. You can make food another and so on. You can divide up your expenses however you want. Having separate small budgets for each area of your life will help you manage your budget more efficiently. Instead of obsessing over your monthly budget with every purchase, you can focus on the specific spending limits you've set in each category. It will reduce your stress and keep you on track.
4. Remember to save for emergency expenses and special purchases
Saving money is also important — just in case. Having a decent savings account can help you in many situations. When an emergency expense pops up, you'll be able to cover it with little issue. Saving regularly also lets you splurge on bigger purchases every once in a while. Maybe you desperately want to see your favorite singer's concert or a purchase a brand new game console. With your savings, you'll be able to afford the occasional splurge without breaking the bank.
- How to Make a Budget - 12 Personal Budgeting Tips for First Timers ›
- How to Create a Budget (Even If You Suck At Budgeting) ›
- 7 Secrets To Creating a Successful Budget | Bankrate.com ›
- HOW TO MAKE A BUDGET | USING THE ENVELOPE SYSTEM ... ›
- How to Create a Budget (with Examples) - wikiHow ›
- How to Build a Budget - NerdWallet ›
Save Your Wallet’s Tears - 2022 Holiday Season Savings Tips
Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
So pack your bags and brace yourself for those chaotic airport lines. Everyone’s hopping on this deal so get on it. Don’t miss out — grab your sale tickets by October 3rd!
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.