The sun is shining the weather is warmer and the birds are chirping. If you're like me you've started cleaning out closets and dusting your baseboards. But have you thought about spring cleaning your budget?
Why not embrace the season by taking this time to make a budget, find ways to cut back and simplify your spending?
1. Look at where your money is going. Log on to your bank account and look at your past three months of statements.
This is a black and white picture of where your money is going. It's hard to hide from the truth when it's printed out in front of you. Seeing it puts it all in perspective.
You might think you're only spending $400 a month on groceries but you've spent $125 on fast food.
2. Determine your true necessities. After you print out your statements take a highlighter and highlight your necessities.
Necessities are things like food, shelter, gas in your car to get to work, basic clothing, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
3. Start your emergency fund. If you don't have an emergency fund in place now is the time to start one. Today. Start today. If the idea of socking away $1,000 or $2,000 then save a little at a time. Start with $5 a week and go from there.
Look for things to sell and start selling them on eBay. You can read about my tips for making the MOST money on Ebay.
4. Make your budget. It's not as hard as it sounds. Put those necessities from #2 in your budget and try your hardest not to depart from them. It will be hard the first time. Don't worry. It gets easier.
A great app for starting your first budget is EveryDollar. It's free and easy to use.
5. Make a plan to pay yourself. Pay yourself! This goes with number 1. Just before we budget for other things we set aside money to go in our savings account.
Some months this is less than others. And there have been months when emergencies and other expenses arose and we couldn't save. But those months are few and far between now that we are debt free.
I once heard a tip - and I think this is great advice- pay yourself the first hour of each day that you work.
So if you're working and getting paid $10 an hour then pay yourself $50 a week. That money goes into savings. It's not for treats. It's not for shopping. It's for savings!
6. Plan for some fun (and other things).
Remember those statements I told you to print out? Okay, take a different color highlighter and color in the parts that aren't necessities but are things you value like giving to your church or local food bank, the cost of a movie rental.
Of course paying your bills and saving are at the top of your list. But set aside a little (little!) money each month for something fun. If that is just $20 a month to go to a movie or $10 a month to grab a cup of coffee with a girl friend, do that. If you don't budget for fun you will burn out and I don't want that to happen for you!
What about you? What tips do you have for spring cleaning your budget?