Budgeting Basics

Budgeting Basics

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Wish you could get yourself on a budget, but don’t know where to start? Our financial expert shares the three steps for getting started and sticking to it.


Budgeting, believe it or not, is the cornerstone to a healthy financial life. I’ve found that most individual either don’t have a budget, don’t know what a budget is, or don’t like the word budget.

But let’s talk about budgeting. When I say budget, I don’t mean restrictions from all the fun of being a vivant adult. I mean knowing when to say yes and when to say no. More thing everything I want you to enjoy the fruits of your labor BUT I want you to be financially GREAT as well.

Essentially, all a budget demonstrates is that you are only willing to spend a certain amount for a specific item or service. It’s all about tracking your income and expenses, while making sure your expenses don’t win.

I want to share three steps for starting your budget.

Tip #1 Determine your monthly fixed income and expenses.

This is self-explanatory. For instance, if you receive a salary, your direct deposit or pay stub should reflect the same amount. Usually, fixed expenses include rent, cable, car note, and car insurance, etc. After all fixed items have been determined, consider your variable costs such as groceries, gasoline, electric, and water because these change based on use. You could use more or less in any given month. This same concept applies to income.

Tip #2 Review your last month’s credit card and debit card statements to understand where you are spending your money.

Note, this helps when determining variable income and expenses, as well. Limits can be set here. Key statements such as “I am not spending more than $100 on gas a month.” “I am not spending more than “$150 at the grocery store.” Additionally, your bank statements tell you if you are spending a lot on fast food, nightclubs, clothing, etc.

Tip #3 Always budget with a goal or vision in mind.

Nothing is more pointless than saving money just to save money because as an adult you are told to do so. How many of us do what we are told to do all the time? Budget or save with a goal in mind. You may not have an emergency fund and want to save $1000 initially. That will be your driving force or your motivating factor. Better yet, you may want to buy a house next year and need a down payment of $3,000. Your budget will show you where you can cutback or if additional income needs to be obtained to meet your goal. Remember a cutback now is not a cutback forever. You can add back your discretionary (wants not needs) once your goal has been obtained.

Budgeting is all about planning. Ever heard the saying, “Proper, Prior, Planning, Prevents Piss Poor Performance – the 7 Ps? You cannot expect to just drop into a better financial situation, you have to put in the work to do so. Just like you plan a trip or night out, you have to plan your financial life for changes to occur. A budget is simply a guide to help you achieve your overall financial goals. So ask yourself, do you want to be in the same financial situation you are a year from now or 5 years from now?

For more tips on budgeting, check out my eBook Vision. Future Reality: How To Budget Like A Boss, it is available on Amazon Kindle, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble Nook.


Emerald Sparks is a Financial Strategist and Founder of Emerald Sparks Ltd, a personal finance consulting company where she teaches and motivates professionals and business owners to solve the misconceptions about money. She has curated personalized financial strategies based on individual’s goals, obstacles, and habits. In 2016, she authored a short-read eBook entitled Vision. Future. Reality: How to Budget like a Boss to help educate and illustrate the importance of vision budgeting. She can be contacted at emerald@emeraldsparks.com or emeraldsparks.com.