I like to pretend I have superpowers.
A special skill that gives me a boost. Helps me through tough times, adds value to the good times and relieves stress.
Every month, and on far far too many evenings, I take the time to plan my budget. I find the job for every dollar, figure out if this month has room for luxuries, adjust my plan for the last-minute expenses and review my progress towards my financial goals.
It’s my budget plan, AKA my superpower!
Some people use a spreadsheet to keep track. I like to use an app called YNAB – You Need A Budget.
There are other apps including Mint, and Everydollar, and a heap of spreadsheet resources at the end of a google search. I can talk more in evangelical tones about YNAB in a future blog, but what’s important is finding something that works for you, and best supports your goals.
I’m not much of a risk taker. I like my stability and my security. My risk profile is generally that of a moderate risk taker. I think this reflects both my personality and preference for slow and steady, and my circumstance.
As a mother of two teenage boys I need to provide a safe, secure predictable environment.
That’s why having my superpower is so important.
I’m not going to get rich quick, I don’t have the stomach for it. But I really would like to get rich slowly, whilst looking after my family’s needs.
One of the best and worst things about budgeting to the dollar and regularly tracking is that you know where your money is going.
Sounds simple right.
When I started my recording my spending online, my monthly budget was filled with orange and red warnings.
Glaring categories I overspent in, clothes, dining out, and predictable bills I under budgeted for car registration, water bill. The hard data told me where I really needed to direct my money, but it was another thing to listen to the message.
To reach my long-term goals, I needed to use my superpowers for good and not avoidance.
Over six or so months I used the app and a keen focus on where I wanted to be. I gradually shifted my earnings to the priorities that just don’t go away. Over time, I was eventually able to free up income to direct to my preferred priorities, savings, and guilt and stress free spending.
Budgeting alone won’t make me rich, but it’s a foundation of stability to build on and a super habit to grow from.
I also feel with this foundation in place that if my income was cut, or even on pause for a short time, I can deal with that.
I have in store some funds for upcoming bills, and I’m working on some longer term, tiny-step-strategies to provide a buffer.
The app also helps me see at a glance where I can cut my spending if needed. Our tradition of take-out pizzas once a fortnight, and regular organized sport add value and enjoyment to our life. It would be with much sadness and regret to scrap these from our routines. If needed, my budget allows me ahead of time to make an informed decision about that, and that can save me some stress.
Having a clear picture of where my money goes each month also allows me to see the absolute essentials.
I have a benchmark of the money I’ve just gotta hustle for my family, whatever it takes, to keeps us steady if times are tough.
Being budget savvy is a life skill. I can’t jump tall buildings, but I can plan to spend a debt free holiday in one.