How I Budget

So, I don’t know about you, but having money is new to me. After working full-time since May, I’ve had to learn to manage my expenses. I’ve tried a few different things, and I think I finally settled on a system that works well for me. If you are a student or young professional, I think this system could work well for you, too.

Part 1: Mint

In order to have a comprehensive view of my spending, I’ve been using the Intuit app Mint. It is available on both the App Store and the Play Store. What I love about this app is that it allows you to add all accounts to it, including things like checking, savings, credit card, and even loans.

One of my favorite features of this app is the transaction categorization. This allows me to have a great visual of where my money is going. I make sure to do an audit of transactions on a monthly basis to ensure everything is being categorized correctly.

In addition, it allows you to set goals for your spending, and will compare your actuals to that budget.

Overall, this is the best app/website I’ve found for tracking all my accounts in a comprehensive way.

Part 2: Planning and Allocating

While Mint is a great tool for analyzing what I have spent, it doesn’t do much in the way of planning. For this, I’ve developed a simple Google Sheet that helps me break down my monthly income and expenses, so I can play around with how much I spend on things I can adjust, as well as planning for bigger things, like paying off my car.

As you can see, I have 4 categories:

  1. Recurring payments – this is basically bills or other expenses I pay on a monthly basis.
  2. Budgets I set things for – things I know I will spend money on that are variable expenses; using historical data and my own analysis of what I should be prioritizing with my spending, I create goals/budgets here.
  3. Money I get – $$$ from work.
  4. What I put in savings – I save a bit from each pay check and play around with these numbers too see how they affect the net.

From here, I get to see how much money I have outgoing, incoming, and then how much would be left over in my checking.

Then, I use that to allocate toward debt payments for my car, or simply continue growing my money on-hand.

The Mindset

I think I would be amiss if I talked about money without talking about the associated mindset. I talked all about how my relationship with money is changing in this blog post: Let’s Talk About Money. As I continue in my position making the first significant sum I have in my life, I’m slowly learning how to balance my budget and allocate money to things that will improve my quality of life in both the long-term and the short-term.

Do you have any budgeting tools/tips that you like? Share them below!

❤ Alicia

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