I think I’ve settled on “My 20-something To-Do List” as my A to Z theme this year. I’ll chronicle tasks/dreams/goals that I aspire to complete during my 20s (I’m halfway to 30, so I’ve still got time to achieve all of them). It’s a sufficiently broad enough topic to include many things, and it will also serve the purpose of getting many areas of my life back on track: one of which will be blogging regularly!
Today’s topic is Budgeting.
I’m 25 years old, unmarried, and I just bought my first house – making me house poor. (Not really, because I wouldn’t have purchased a home that I couldn’t afford on my own, but it sometimes feels that way.)
I have pretty lofty financial goals of owning several investment properties, retiring by the time I’m 30 (ha!), traveling extensively, and becoming debt-free.
You’d think I would keep a fairly strict budget, no? Alas, I do not. There was about a 1-year period during which I wired up an Excel spreadsheet with formulas to track my income (twice-monthly paychecks) and expenses (student loan payment) each month, but that was as deep as my tracking went. No line items for groceries, credit card bills, rent, gas, etc, etc. My intention was to figure out how much money I’d have in savings at the end of the year, and obviously, my calculations were a bit off.
I’ve flirted with the idea of using a Google Doc budget template (I’ve found several nice, simple-ish, free ones), but for some reason I just won’t take the time to sit down and actually fill it out. I think I’m a little bit afraid of seeing all my monthly expenses laid out in one place, rather than as different bills that come in the mail at different times throughout the month.
I would love to be more on top of my finances, and to live up to that John Maxwell quote made famous by Dave Ramsey:
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
Creating a monthly budget that I’ll actually reference and rely on is something I need to do sooner than later.
For those of you who keep a budget, how do you do it? Do you find that it helps? Do you use Excel? Google Docs? Old-fashioned pen and paper?