Finding a system for my bullet journal has honestly made my life so much easier. Once I pushed past the desire to make my bullet journal as nice as everyone’s on the internet, I have really given myself a space to record everything that is important in life.
One of the most important things I keep in my bullet journal is my monthly spending log, which is both illuminating and frightening. But it’s a necessary tool to keep my spending on check (side note: it is not 100% in check, maybe like 50%), especially during my time of unemployment.
Let the Light In
I think the first step to creating a budget is to take a hard look at how much you spend. So if you have multiple cards, really make sure to go over everything for one whole month. Think of it like the scene in Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Do whatever it is you need to do in order to get everything totaled up. I will admit that it will not be the most fun thing you’ll ever do. It does suck.
So now that we’ve gone through all the expenses, find a way to categorize them. Whether it be color coding or labeling, find a way to really see what you’ve been spending on. I personally have 5 categories: Food, essentials, non-essentials, gas, and one for my dog, Pepper. Be honest about what should go in which category.
Then accept what you have spend per category and be honest about your feelings and reactions to the money you spent. My food category, meant for all food purchased outside my house (not my groceries), has always been really out of control. So I was honest about how I felt about spending so much money on food. I thought about how much I disliked it, how I didn’t feel good about the food in general, or how I often I over ate this way. Remember this feelings, they are actually important.
So since I felt so bad about my eating habits, I decided to buy more groceries, cook at home, and only eat out with friends. All of which have been incredibly helpful.
So whatever your spending vice is, find a way to reduce what you spend in one or all of your categories. Don’t quit cold turkey. If things don’t look good financially, ask yourself if what you want is more important than what you need. Don’t be too hard on yourself and do what is possible for you.
If you want to go a step further, set limits for yourself per category. I honestly have not been so great at this, but I want to be. If your a tech savvy person and actually like having things online, try using an app like Mint. I know that they help you set a budget and keep track of your spending.
Or if you want you can just set a limit for yourself and make sure you keep track of every purchase for the category. Something similar to this is the envelope method. It’s just allocating the amount of cash you want to have per category for the week set in specific envelopes. You can’t use cards and can only use the money in the envelope for whatever is in the category.
Whatever you do, treat yourself Kindly. Setting a budget and getting more mindful with your money is not an easy task and takes a lot of time to get together. I know I’m still working on it. If you want so more resources, check the internet. There is a ton of free and not so free stuff. I noticed that Refinery 29 has their book Money Diaries out and I want to pick it up as soon as I can. Let me know if you’ve read it and what you found the most helpful!