I hate the word "budget". Yes, I know having a spending plan is important, but calling it a "budget" automatically implies that you are depriving yourself of something...sort of like the word "diet". It is far better to have a "spending plan" or a "savings plan" rather than a budget. Savvy Frugality is not about living without things that make your life comfortable. It is about living a good life with the resources you have.
But, what if you are struggling to make ends meet NOW? You say "but, I don't have any money left over after paying bills to save or invest for my retirement". What this really means is you either need to:
A) Make more money,
B) Spend less money, or
Where do you start? By allotting a certain percentage of your income to each category of your spending plan, such as rent (mortgage), food, auto, insurance, etc. There are a number of resources online where you can find budget...er, spending plans...with the percentages already built in. I like to give a certain amount of money to charity each year. Other people tithe their money to a church (I do both, but split the money between the two). Therefore, I use the Spending Plan Calculator I found at Crown Financial Ministries. For purposes of this demonstration, I'm going to use an annual salary of $45,000 as a hypothetical situation. Statistics show that half of all Americans earn about $46,000 or less. However, Middle Class America donates a greater percentage of its income to charities than other income classes. According to the Crown Financial Services calculator, the spending plan looks like this:
Printer Friendly Version About the Online Budget Guide: Results:
Need More Help?
With increasing technology on the Internet today, Crown wishes to take advantage of this technology to help bring information regarding biblical stewardship to the Internet audience. The online budget guide is only a guide. We realize that all families do not fit the same criteria.
You will see your income listed at the top with four columns below. The Category column will list the 12 to 14 sections that Crown recommends. Next, you will notice a Suggested Percentage column, which gives a recommended percentage for the given category section. Next is the yearly allotment for the category. Finally, the monthly allotment is given next.
If you wish to input another income figure or choose another family scenario, click your browsers Back button or the Start Another Budget button.;
About the Online Budget Guide:
* The School/Childcare category is added as a guide only. If you have this expense, the percentage shown must be deducted from other budget categories. Remember, all percentages must add up to 100 percent.
Of course, your own particular situation might prevent you from strictly following this plan. You will have to adjust the percentages to fit your particular situation, but those percentages MUST total 100 percent. This will at least serve as a starting point or a guide for your spending plan. My own spending plan is slightly different from this one. In my household our medical bills are higher than most because my wife is diabetic and my wife, myself and our two children all take prescription medications. Also, this spending plan allots 36 percent of monthly income to housing. Personally, I suggest trying to keep that number to no more than 30 percent. Also, I prefer to increase my savings and debt payments to 10 percent each, rather than the 5 percent suggested by Crown. Using frugal living principles, you can save money in other areas to increase your savings and debt payments. Hopefully, you do not have outstanding debt, but if you do, being able to increase spending in other areas of your life will serve as incentive to eliminate that debt.
You can adjust the calculator at Crown Financial Ministries to fit your own income, and go from there, but at least it is a starting point, and we all have to start somewhere.
*Disclaimer: Savvy Frugality has no direct business affiliation with Crown Financial Ministries, and this article is NOT a paid review. I just happen to like their spending plan calculator.