When I began to budget for the first time it was discouraging. I thought I had more money than I did. I would schedule the dentist only to discover I was at the end of my money that day. Or I would realize I had plenty of money, but during the wrong time of the month. With a few months of practice I worked out a way to keep my budget afloat through planning.
Use A Calendar
I mean really use a calendar. I got a free calendar from a wildlife charity. On it I mark paydays, bills due dates and appointments that I know will cost money. I estimate how much I will get each paycheck and plan my life and bill payment in accordance. I put everything on this calendar and then I put the calendar where I will always see it. It is a constant reminder that I am in control of my finances.
Not Just On Time
I pay bills early if I can. I know I have the money then. I know that the bill will come due, and that there will be a fee if it's late. So instead of waiting until the bill is due (I mean right now!) I pay it when it isn't a stress factor waiting to happen. This may mean that I don't have the money right now for fast food, but the lights are still on at my home.
Plan Around Paychecks
I plan doctors visits on paydays or very close to them. This way I know that the money is in the account. If by chance I have forgotten my calendar when I'm out in town, I know that I'm still covered for that appointment financially. I also don't plan bill payment or doctor appointments when the rent is due. Of all the things I want to make sure I have money for, rent is at the top of the list.
Last but not least I prioritize my bills. When starting out on a budget there are still going to be a few bumps in the road. When I went through this stage of budgeting I decided which bills were more important than other bills. For example, rent, electricity and gas money were at the top of the list then. Now it's rent, electricity and internet connection, because I work at home. If I am getting the kids' shots this month, I prioritize that. As life keeps changing, so to will my priorities. Budgeting however, must stay the same.
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