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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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What is a budget  Getting started

It’s a new year and a lot of us are re-vamping (or starting) our budget.  Budgeting can be overwhelming if you don’t go into it with some kind of game plan.

When you sit down to make your budget, first decide why you’re making it.  Is it to get out of debt, go on a family vacation or simply to be a good steward of your money?  When you have a goal, you can refer back to it every time you consider purchasing something outside of your budget and remember that you’re saving for a higher purpose.

Monthly Expenses:

First, you need to have a realistic idea of what you spend each month by adding up all of your expenses.  Don’t forget to consider big expenses that may not happen on a monthly basis like car taxes, insurance payments, etc.

If you need some more help getting started on this part of budgeting, download Dave Ramsey’s FREE Guide to Budgeting.

Housing (Mortgage/Rent, taxes, insurance):
Grocery purchases:
Household purchases:
Medical:
Childcare:

Transportation (car, gas, insurance, tax):
Utilities:
Electric & Water:
       Phone & Internet:
       Cable & Entertainment:
Clothing:
Savings:
Charity:
Debt Payments not mentioned above:
Miscellaneous:

Total Spent:

 Budgeting isn’t easy.  It forces you to look at your needs vs. wants and maybe make some cuts in your lifestyle.  If you’re curious how much of your family’s income should go to what, here’s how much the gurus say you should dedicate to your expenses:

Charity: 10%
Housing: 30%
Utilities: 5-10%
Food & Household: 10%
Clothing: 2-7%
Transportation: 10%
Medical: 5-10%
Miscellaneous: 1-2%

That hopefully will leave 13-23% that can go into savings or paying off debt.

So, say you make $45,000 a year after taxes. That is $3,750 per month.

You budget would look like this:

Charity: $375
Housing: $1,125
Utilities: $262.50
Food & Household: $375
Clothing: $75
Transportation: $375
Medical: $187.50
Miscellaneous: $75

Total Budgeted: $2,848

That means you still have $902 left to budget. By the time you are finished with your budget, every dollar should have a job. There shouldn’t be any money left over.

Savings: $902

Other things you may need to include: credit card bills, car payments, child care expenses, retirement, burn money, etc.

Remember to keep it simple. There is no need to have a separate category for bath tissue. Just put it under household. If you add purchases in as your go or use cash, you should be able to keep it to 30 minutes to 1 hour for budgeting each much.

Creating Your Budget:

The hard part is done.  Now you need to match your income to what you have going out.  If you can’t make the ends meet, you’re not allowed to use credit to make up the difference.  You’re going to need to make the tough cut-backs.  We have to remember the difference between needs and wants.  If you can put it on a list and wait 30 days to ponder if you really want to buy it, it’s officially a want.  Please don’t put bath tissue on that list.

Need help getting started on cutting your expenses?

How to Save Money on Your Utility Bills

Online Couponing Class

Looking for a program to set up your budget? There are some great free options. One of the most popular free options is Mint.com. Another favorite is YNAB. It is a little on the pricey side, but is great for beginners. It teaches you to live on last month’s income. You can try it free for 30 days and they also have free, live classes. Other favorites include pen and paper, spreadsheets, and Quicken.

If your family is in debt or you want to learn more about finances, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace. There is so much that we can’t possibly over in one post. Whatever your goals, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better decisions you can make, so educate yourself.

See more frugal living tips.

    • Jenna

      I’ve been using a spreadsheet for years, and it’s worked well for me, but they’re a lot of work to keep up. I started using YNAB after it went on sale for $15 on Steam. It’s HEAVEN. The format is very similar to what I was using with my spreadsheets, but it’s just so much easier because I don’t have to go back and do a lot of retooling with my own formulas from month to month.

      If you want to try YNAB, I heavily recommend waiting for a good Steam sale to buy it, but it’s well worth the regular $60 price tag.

      • Amy

        what is Steam??? Please provide site info.

        • emi

          Check out youneedabudget.com – it is a great website. I just started using YNAB and I agree that it is well worth $60.

    • Steph

      I have the problem of not having enough money to cover my basics before I even get into clothing or household. I haven’t had cable or internet for three years. There’s not much left to cut back on. What do I do now since I’m already working 3 jobs?

      • momof3

        Depending on your situation, things to try could include….
        1.looking at insurance policies to see if you can raise the deductible in order to pay less.
        2.Carpool with other people to save on gas
        3.what is your rent or house payment… Could you downsize to a smaller place so you have a smaller payment? (Same with car)
        4.Watch your power bill…. meaning turn things off when done with them, also try setting the heat a few degrees lower in winter (say 65 degrees, you’ll get used to adding a sweater…) and a few degrees higher in summer (say 75 degrees)
        5. Coupon for the things you need and if you don’t need it don’t buy it….

        My families biggest problems are buying movies, and buying take out (we love papa johns…), we wind up going over on the grocery budget because of it.
        So we decided to do netflix several years ago and it helped big time! As for take out, we try to limit to once a month pizza habit… So hard, but last month we had two free papa johns pizzas!

        Every persons situation is different, but keep your chin up and have a goal in mind!

      • Vhv

        Definitely check out Dave Ramsey. Listen to his radio show for free. Try to take the FPU class. That will help with finding out if you are overspending in areas you are not aware of or if more likely you have an income issue. You will be surprised what you can live without. I agree with all the suggestions below. Remember this is a temporary cut in lifestyle for long term benefit. Good luck!

      • Elizabeth

        3 jobs is hard! We’ve been there for a short time and it’s exhausting. Taking the FPU class would definitely help you know where you can save money and what is worth spending money on. You can also check with a local Rescue Mission or similar ministry. Some of them offer free budget-consultations to help you evaluate your spending and set up a budget to help you stay on your feet. They are also a great resource for helping to get a job that will better support you in the long term without having to work 3 jobs.

      • Elizabeth

        For saving on clothing: We usually buy clothes in lots on craigslist or local facebook groups. I hardly ever pay more than 50 cents per item this way. Often times it’s more than we need and I will keep what we need and re-sell the rest. Recently I bought a lot that had about 400 pieces of clothes in it for $75. The sizes ranged from 12months – 6T, both summer and winter, which is what I needed for my 3 girls. It included several Lands end jackets and really nice stuff. I went through it, several friends went through it and took what they could use, and then I sold the rest for $40. Thus clothing 3 girls for this winter and next summer for $35 total. I look for the lots that have a wide variety of items like jackets, bathing suits, dressy things, PJ’s, and lots of pants and get those. Not the ones that just have a bunch of t-shirts and pants.

      • Joanna

        What are you calling the basics?

    • Sione Mataele

      Big thing to remember are non monthly expenses and unpredictable expenses. Examples to remember include:
      1) Holidays/special occasions. Christmas, Birthdays, and Anniversary expenses can add up quickly and usually don’t fit neatly in with your budget. Other Holidays like Valentines day, Easter, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, and Halloween can also start to get pricey depending on ones traditions.
      Make a budget for each of them and divide the costs evenly across the months.
      2) Repairs/emergency/unexpected expenditures. Cars break down. Heaters and air conditioners quit. Health emergencies occur. Marriages and funerals (for extended family that require travel) happen. etc.
      Like Holidays, we determine how much we should set aside for these things and then divide up the expected annual cost into monthly increments.