Have you already achieved Budgeting Bad-Ass status?  No?  This is no surprise; most people won’t touch a personal budget with a 10-foot pole.  Budgeting isn’t for the faint of heart, and it can feel SUPER overwhelming.  The American Psychological Association found that 72% of Americans “reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time during the past month”.  Clearly if you’re feeling unsure or even down-right scared of your finances, you are not alone.  Money is not a subject many people share openly; it can be feel quite intimate, in fact.  Stealing the tagline from one of my absolute favorite podcasts (Death, Sex & Money), personal finances definitely falls in the category of “the things we think about a lot and need to talk about more”.

This month we’ve been focusing on wellness.  We covered wellness of the mind, heart, and intellect.  We thought it only appropriate to wrap up our series with a chat about the wellness of your pocketbook!  More specifically, personal budgets.  The benefits of budgeting are vast – it identifies where your money is going, helps you gain control of your finances, eases stress by giving you a roadmap for your next paycheck, and can be a tool in achieving financial goals.

I have a confession.  I am a supreme budgeting nerd.  There.  I’ve admitted it.  I do NOT fall in the category of people who will not go near a personal budget.  For me, I find it fun to track what I’ve earned and spent, and then use that information to find ways in which I can improve my personal finances just a little more each month.  I’ve been budgeting my personal finances in some way, shape or form for 20 years.  It doesn’t mean I’ve always followed a budget perfectly, but it does mean I’ve tried a lot of methods and found what works best for me.  Oh, and don’t worry; although I may have my shit together when it comes to budgeting, there are plenty of other areas of my life that often feel like a hot mess.  Like, all the time.  Nobody is perfect, yo.  I say embrace it.  😉  Anyway, between my love for budgeting and my desire to help people, I want to share a few tips I’ve learned over the years.  At BF Bookkeeping, you know we like to keep it simple, so these aren’t earth shattering but CAN greatly impact your stress level with regards to your finances.

  1. Start tracking how you spend your money.  Do this even before you consider making a change in your spending.  You may learn some surprising things about yourself!  You need information before you can make decisions.  You can’t make choices about how to spend your money if you don’t know how much you make or where it’s currently going.
  2. Now that you are armed with information, consider where you’re spending your hard earned cash and if that aligns with your values.  Maybe you’re environmentally conscious and learn you spend hoards of money on harmful cleaning solutions and paper towels.  Perhaps you consider yourself a “saver” but you now see you save less than 1% of your income.  Or you learn you are living outside your means and simply need to cut expenses.
  3. Take baby steps.  If you want to save more or need to cut expenses, focus on the spending category that will have the most impact on your budget.  Make small changes that focus on that one category until it conforms to your ideal levels of spending.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, be kind to yourself in this process.  There can be a lot of emotional baggage wrapped up in money.  Plus, learning a new skill can be challenging, but is almost always rewarding in the end.  As we learned last week, stretching our brains helps our intellectual wellness, too.  Now just look at that!  Budgeting is already helping you be more efficient – it’s saving you time AND money.  Creating a budget might just make you a smarter smarty-pants AND a budget badass.  😉