Budget Boot Camp: Qualities of a Good Budget

Me again, here to ensure you that creating a budget doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth! So far, we’ve discussed Lies People Believe About Budgets, and Reasons Why You Need a Budget. As we continue our journey to understanding budgets, I want for us to look at qualities of a good budget. If we’re going to put in the effort and work, we ought to do it well! Let’s look at 4 qualities of a good budget:

#1. A good budget is easy to maintain.

A budget that is difficult to keep up with isn’t helpful. Ain’t nobody got time for that! We want a budget that keeps track of our money, but doesn’t take a million hours to maintain. I personally use a google spreadsheet to track our spending, but some people feel that is too much work. If that’s you, then there are apps that can help! Every Dollar is a great one – you set your budget on your phone, and then just enter the information every time you spend. This is super helpful for when you are out and about – you can just pull out your phone and see where you’re at on spending. Another helpful app is Mint – if you link this one to your bank account, it will actually help track your budget and spending for you. Again, it’s on your phone so you can access it at any time

#2. A good budget accounts for every dollar.

When setting up your budget, it should account for every single dollar brought in. The reason for this is that when we don’t find a place or purpose for each dollar, we are more likely to spend it without thought. If you make $4,000 a month and only need $3,678 for your expenses, you can put that extra $322 into savings, put it towards a vacation, whatever you want. You just don’t want to have money floating around with no purpose.

#3. A good budget accounts for savings.

You guys, this is imperative. No matter what you bring home, it is so important to save. This helps protect you and your bank account in case of an emergency. My personal rule of thumb is to aim to save at least 10% of our monthly income. This seems like a lot, but it has really helped us out in a pinch (like when my car randomly needed a new transmission). If you can’t save 10%, figure out what you can save and stick to that.

#4. A good budget starts with the big things and works down.

If you have a bunch of big rocks, some small rocks, and some sand, how do you make it all fit in one jar? If you start with the sand and then work up to the bigger items, it won’t work. You have to start with the biggest rocks first. Your budget is the same way. Start with the biggest, non-negotiable items and work your way to the smaller things. This will ensure you have enough to cover the most important things.

Creating a budget doesn’t have to be hard. All it takes is a little time and dedication. You can do it. I believe in you! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

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We’ve Got a Trail to Blaze

We all draw inspiration and encouragement from different places. Some people use the Bible, some use music, some use friends or family, and some use those cheesy posters that have a dramatic nature picture with one word and its definition that can be found in every elementary school classroom across the country. In my life, I tend to go through seasons of time with one phrase that repeats itself in my head over and over.

Through most of college, my phrase came from the Lion King of all places. It’s that part in the movie when Rafiki the baboon smacks Simba on the head with his stick. After Simba asks why the monkey popped him on the noggin, Rafiki laughs and says, “It doesn’t matta! It is in de past!”.

Early college is filled with bumps in the road. You do poorly on a test, you stay out later than you should and pay for it the next day, or any of the thousands of things you are doing on your own for the first time and mess up on. We make mistakes, learn from them, and then MOVE ON. That’s what the monkey was telling the lion. You can’t change it, so work with what you have now.

While that phrase still pops into my head often, it has been replaced with a new phrase from a random source. Michigan’s head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, has said that his motto for every day is to, “attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind”.

During this most recent period in life there were (and are) many days that I dread what is coming. Things I really wish I didn’t have to take care of, calls I don’t want to make, or what I perceive to be many responsibilities pulling me in different directions that make me want to avoid the day all together. I love the word “attack” because there is no questioning its connotation. The word “enthusiasm” conveys a positive excitement and energy. The end, I view as a challenge — to do something “unknown to mankind”. This phrase to me is a “tighten your belt”, “saddle up your horse”, and “let’s get ready to rrrrrrrumble” all in one.

These are just two examples of phrases I use to draw inspiration and motivation. I could still describe 2 Timothy 1:7, every member of my family, The movie Chariots of Fire, or the phrase “not dead yet” and their effect on my and my life. Whatever the source or method, find something that inspires you and motivates you. Share with others what drives you and why, but do not be afraid to look beyond yourself for encouragement.

As the great marketing department at Nike so brilliantly said: “Just do it”.

-Zach