Creating a Budget for the First Time

Creating a Budget

Finding a job right after college was really stressful. Trying to manage my money was even worse.

By the time I got my third part-time job, I was getting a paycheck every week, sometimes even twice a week. I really felt like I rolling in it, but when I broke it down I knew I needed to start saving and investing my money strategically.

I’m not talking in investing in some fancy stocks or anything; that’s still pretty over my head. But I needed to invest purchases that would benefit me in the long run.

One of the first things I did was create a very basic budget on Excel. I used the same document for the whole year, just starting with a new month.

Budget Screenshot 1

My budget consists of categories I knew I spent money on each month. The green categories were ones I deposited money into, and the red categories were where I spent money. Under each category, I set a target amount of money I wanted to spend in each category. For the first month (February for me) I didn’t give myself a budget because I wanted to see how much money I spent on each category before budgeting myself.

My breakdown of categories goes like this:

  • Wells Fargo deposit
  • Bank of America deposit (I have two separate bank accounts which each bank)
  • Cash
  • Credit Card (I later changed the name of this to just bills in general)
  • Loans
  • Gas
  • Going Out (This included eating out, drinks, any cover charge, tickets, etc)
  • Clothes
  • Exercise (For me this was yoga classes and gym memberships)
  • Necessities (This consists of food, toiletries, oil changes, etc. Anything I absolutely needed and couldn’t live without)
  • Extra (This was everything I wanted/needed but could live without: make-up, fancy pens, etc)
  • Books/Lit (I spend a lot of money on books and I knew I needed to regulate this)
  • Savings

In the Notes column I would write down exactly what I bought. Each time I made a purchase I would keep the receipt and I would sit down a few times a month and plug in all of the receipts into my budget.

Budget Screenshot 2

(I cut out my deposits just to save room.)

I made my budget for the month based on how much money I spent the month before. I also budgeted for certain events I knew I had coming up. For example, I know I always pay a certain amount for my monthly yoga membership, so I always budget for that. Or if I know I’m going to be doing a lot of driving back and forth, I’ll budget for more gas money.

Since I was getting three paychecks, I split up each one into different categories. One of my paychecks went straight to my savings and my loans, the other one went straight to my bills, and my third one was spending money. This way, I always had a certain amount of money being put towards my savings account and towards paying off my loans each month, as well as money that was solely put aside for paying off loans.

At the end of each month, I add up how much money I spent in each category and if I was over or under my anticipated budget. Then I adjust my budget for the following month. On the side of my spreadsheet, I have another chart that shows a monthly comparison on how much money I spent.

There are a ton of different way to keep track of your money, but this was the way that worked best for me. What are some ways you keep track of your spending each month? Do you have any advice for things I should add to my budget?


One thought on “Creating a Budget for the First Time

  1. FIRST I like the spreadsheet option – that will help me keep track of my envelope deposits better. I sort my money similarly, only physically.

    SECOND – your picture – where is that from? and when? I recognize my hand but my phone is in tip top shape, unlike now lmao

    THIRD – I like that I made the budget 😀

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