Budgeting 101

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I feel like I spend a good part of my life budgeting.  Not only do I complete all of the budgeting at work but I also do the majority of it here at home too.  Dirty little secret, I enjoy it! Another dirty little secret, I haven’t always loved it and I haven’t always been very good at it.  Budgeting is like anything; it takes A LOT of practice, some serious patience and some really good communication with your spouse.

It probably took me a good three to four months to get this budgeting thing down to a science.  I now complete a monthly budget, Dallas and I review it together, and then I handle the execution of the budget each month.  If something changes, when it does, we talk about it.  We honestly don’t spend money without discussing it with each other first.  We are 1000% committed to our financial goals, and that means we stick to a strict budget.  It works for us and you’ll find what works for you too.

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When we were paying off debt, we would pay off debt anytime we would go under budget in a category.  So for example, if we budgeted $150 for groceries and spend $143.60, we would pay $6.40 toward debt.  Yes, sometimes we would make that small of a payment toward debt.  Seems a bit crazy but like is said, 1000% committed! We were RUNNING from debt as fast as we could and paying as much as possible toward debt is how to get out of debt fast.  We’re now applying this same principle to saving!

Our budget is what’s called a zero-based budget, meaning we zero our bank account with each paycheck.  We do have a $50 buffer in there just in case I mess something up, hey, math is hard sometimes!  But in our minds, the balance is zero.  This means we make multiple payments toward debt each month which doesn’t allow us to waste that money on anything else.

This girl is also old school and uses Excel for our budget.  That said, there are a lot of really good apps out there that can do some great things and may make it easier for you.  One of my goals for 2017 is to research those apps.  Until I know more about those, I don’t want to speak to them, but those might be a good option if Excel freaks you out!  A good ol’ piece of paper works too!

The first step is to write down all of your monthly expenses and due dates.  The next step is to budget those expenses with each paycheck.  So you’re going to align your due dates with the pay dates so that you’re sure to pay everything on time.  Dallas gets paid weekly, and I get paid monthly, so we have five mini-budgets within our monthly budget.  Below is an example of what one paycheck in the budget would look like.

  • Column A – Is your payment due date or check date.

  • Column B – The source of your payment or how you plan to pay.

  • Column C – The bill or budget category. You can also but who you owe here.

  • Column D – Put your income or bills here.  Income is a positive entry; bills are a negative resulting in a zero-based budget.

  • Column E – To track the expenses as they happen.  If one bill is less than budgeted, the rest should go to debt or saving. Also, if you have any money left from this paycheck, it should go to your debt or savings as well.  Be sure you have a fully funded emergency fund before you start paying toward debt.

  • Column F – This column will calculate the remaining after column E is entered, the goal is for this to be zero at the end of each budget.

  • Column G – This cell calculates the bank balance as you work through this paycheck.  It’s the sum of column F and should tie to your checking account balance.

***You’ll complete this process for the bills and paychecks you have for the month which will create one budget for the month.

You got it! I just implied that you should balance your checkbook. GASP! Ok, I am an accountant and balancing a checkbook is my thing, I do it frequently.  If you can’t stand the thought of balancing a checkbook, set a budget, stick to it and then balance your checkbook monthly.  It is important to make sure everything is balancing and jiving with the money you have in the bank.

If you’re interested in learning more about budgeting, the course, A Sunny Money Method is a game changer.  The teacher, Sami Womack has laid out an incredibly easy to understand process to get you budgeting in no time!  She provides tools, tips, and coaching that is sure to get your budget in tip-top shape!  The course is excellent for any level of budgeter, I learned a lot from her course and I’d consider myself a budgeting pro!  Take the course that I suggest to family and friends!  Click here to get access and get 15% off because you heard about it here!

I hope this gives you an idea of how we budget and doesn’t make you want to crawl into the corner!  Don’t like how I do it?  The great thing is, you can find something that works for you!  A budget is something that you can build to work for you and your family.  The important thing is that you set a budget and you stick to it!!! I cannot stress that enough.  There is no better way to waste money than to not have a plan!  It also doesn’t matter what you spend your money on as long as you budgeted for it! A budget just helps you ensure you’re living with a plan and telling your money where to go!


Until next time, spend safely!


Need help or have a question?!  Email me at info@eatpraybudget.com! 

Note: I am not a personal finance professional.  All of my advice is strictly opinion.  I am not responsible for your success or failure.  If you need professional financial help, please seek advice from a trained professional.

****Blog post updated Aug. 2017****

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22 thoughts on “Budgeting 101

  1. Keva says:

    Hi I came across your IG page and began reading your blog, and am inspired to re enter the world of budgeting. Thank you for all of your insight. PLEASE email me a sample of the Excel spreadsheets. Thank you in advance

  2. Kristal says:

    I saw your page on ig and I’m really interested in finding out how you do this and would love the spreadsheet to help me!

  3. Vanessa S says:

    Hi there,
    I found you on IG as well and would like to see if you can send my the spreadsheet for budgeting.

  4. Jan says:

    Hello, My name is Jan and I am very new to this budgeting world. I am 24 years old and unfortunately no one has ever taught me how and where to start with finances. Fortunately, I decided to research on my own, hoping I could work on my finances and hence my future. The reason why I started to think seriously about this was because for my whole life our family always had money problems. Don’t get me wrong, my mum is the type of person who would just give everything to people in need even if it leaves her empty handed and mostly that was the case. I just got really tired of seeing money fly away and her debt just doesn’t end. Being a single mum she had to raise three children on her own. I feel tired for her. Hence, I started my journey. For my future self and for my mum too. She deserves better. So will you please be able to help me in some way? I’ve read some of your blogs but I don’t know the sequence to it. A guide would be appreciated! I just want to be like you and your husband! I’m still a student but like you said, I can change regardless of my situation. =)

    • Hi Jan! It’s important to know that you are not alone!! And you can change your life!! I’ll shoot you an email today with the blog posts to read and book you should read too!

    • Hi Petrina,

      Really great questions. First and foremost, when one of you is unemployed you want to focus on keeping your home (rent or mortgage and utilities) current, keep your car in working order to get to and from jobs and interviews, make sure you’re all eating and have basic clothing for work and interviews. Everything else (i.e. fun money, eating out and cable) can go if you’re having trouble with keeping food on the table. Just remember, it’s temporary until you’re both back to work. Regarding inconsistent paychecks or checks with commission, look over the last year and find your smallest check. Base you zero based budget on that smallest check. That will help you ensure you’re meeting your minimums with the smallest amount of pay. When the check is higher than that budgeted amount, put the extra to your debt snowball or savings depending on where you’re at. I hope this helps! If you have further questions, feel free to email me at eatpraybudget@gmail.com. Best of luck to you!


  5. Chris says:

    Just read your Budgeting 101 post. I enjoyed reading it. Good tips, makes sense, feeling inspired. Will you sent me your budget template? Do you have a net worth template as well?
    Thank you for sharing your journey to get out of debt.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Chris! I’m emailing you now! I don’t have a net worth template yet but I’m working on it. Subscribe to the blog and I’ll get one created soon! Thanks again!

  6. Warren R. says:

    M$M brought me here and you have a new subscriber! Would you please be so kind and share your spreadsheet with me?


  7. Tomo says:

    Hi! I heard you on the his and her money podcast and am totally inspired. Could you please send me a spreadsheet too? Or is there any way I can download? Thank you!!

  8. Nadia says:

    I loved your story. Would it be possible to get a sample spreadsheet? I would appreciate it. I’m currently working on my budget as I try to pay off my debt as well.


    • Hi There! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! I just subscribed you on the back end so you should see the templates in a few minutes. If you don’t see them, check your spam just in case! And as always, reach out if you have any questions.

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