Budgeting Your Four Walls
Where Do I Start?
As I am “out and about” in the community, I get asked all of the time about how to get started with a budget. Almost everyone agrees that it is a great idea but everyone seems to have a difficult time getting it started.
I always tell people to start with their “Four Walls”. It is a phrase that I heard first from Dave Ramsey but it holds so true! Start with the Four Basic pieces that will solidify your family’s foundation – Shelter, Food, Clothing and Transportation. Here are some simple ideas around these basics:
This category would include anything associated with where you live. Do you have rent or a mortgage payment? All utilities would be included and any home owner association fees, as well. Do you have lawn care costs? Do you have an annual HVAC check-up? Are you paying for periodic pest control? Take a few minutes to review all expenses associated with your shelter and add them up.
This category would include all costs associated with your food purchases. It would include all grocery items and dining out expenses. Do you stop each morning at Starbucks for a coffee? Do you run past the convenience store and grab a soda on your way home from work? How about those smoothies on the way home from the gym? Take a little time to really examine all money that you spend on food and beverages and add them up.
This budget item can be a tough one! Personally, I don’t spend much on my own clothing and don’t run out to the mall to pick up a new outfit except on rare occasions! Some families have consistent clothing needs – school uniforms or necessary work clothing. “Back to School” costs can set you back several hundred dollars! This is a category that can easily get away from you when you need a new dress for a holiday party or new boots because the old ones have finally worn out! This can be a budget buster so be sure to really examine how these costs apply to your family and set some funds aside for this expense.
Where do you spend money on your transportation? Do you have a car payment and insurance costs? Do you take the bus or train to work each day? Do you have periodic scheduled maintenance – oil changes, tune ups or tire rotation? Spend a little time reviewing all of the unscheduled costs associated with your vehicles, as well. Batteries, alternators and tires are all necessary parts of your car maintenance plan and will pop up unexpectedly so – plan for it so that it doesn’t bust your budget.
These – obviously – are not all inclusive categories but it will give you a great start to setting up your budget and will also give you some thoughts on some of the simple things that often get overlooked.
As always, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or drop us a note if we can be of any assistance to you or just to answer a simple question. We are always happy to help you.