My November budget was a total BUST. I had many unplanned and irregular expenses, however this was my first time implementing a budget as part of my journey to be financially free which I recently posted about. The range of budgeting variables that I’ve had to work with this month including travel expenses, unplanned health expenses, as well as emergency maintenance funds has left me with a ton of knowledge on how to prepare moving forward.

In reality, I think I did pretty well for my first time budgeting. I don’t have a clue how much I actually saved but I can say that I did save. . . I think. I just have to find a better method of keeping track of my savings being that I have many accounts used for various reasons. Each account is set up in such away to keep things organized but it’s not quite working exactly as I envisioned it but it’s getting there.

What I’ve discovered from my first month of budgeting is that. . .

My life consists of loosely organized chaos.

You definitely need a system. Every budget is unique. You won’t know what works or what doesn’t work for you until you get into it. I did a ton of research before beginning my budget. Yeah. . .I don’t think I used any of that stuff besides creating a workbook. My budgeting workbook was just not as elaborate as many of the workbooks I see on Pinterest. Perhaps even a spreadsheet program works better but that’s not an option for me at the moment.

Record all the numbers. . .all of them. . .you’ll be able to decide which numbers are most important to your budget as you get a better feel for budgeting. Yes, you will be both surprised and perhaps overwhelmed by all the numbers. Especially when you see how much you’re really spending because I promise if you’re not already tracking the expenses, you don’t have a clue. Eye opening. . .trust me.

Variable expenses are most significant to my budget. My variable expenses include groceries, gas, eating out, grooming, kid expenses (clothes, etc), and entertainment. Those are the ones that I have more control over when it comes to decreasing my expenses. This reminds me that I need to organize my expense chart by variable and fixed expense.

I am completely overwhelmed by too many details. As I began to review all of my accounts and expenses, I literally had to stop, do a breathing exercise, and talk myself through a game plan on how to tackle all those numbers. There were a lot of numbers. Some how, I was just not mentally prepared.

My game plan of December, even though I’m still recovering from November, is to. . .

Firstly, put aside time weekly to work on my budget: recording expenses, organizing receipts, checking accounts (checks & balances) etc.

Continue to keep things simple. Despite all of the pressure to print out these elaborate budgeting worksheets, I decided to keep things very simple. This was ultimately a good way to go. I can’t imagine having to fill in all of that “extra” information. I could barely keep up with the basics.

Reformat my expenses worksheet by categories of variable and fixed expenses, and perhaps even by sub-categories of the type of fixed and variable expenses: groceries, gas, health, utility, etc.

Add a budget summary to my goal sheet. This will give me a quick snap shot of how I began and how I ended. I realized I needed this after I finally figured out all those NUMBERS.

A few things I learned are. . .

Not to make purchase within the last 2 to 3 days of the month. This throws your budget off as they sometimes don’t post to your account until the first of the following month. This may seem insignificant but this really messed with my head. :/

Make all variable expenses from a single account. I was all over the place trying to figure out what was spent, where, and from which account. Plus I could barely keep up with my receipts. Based on my current system, I have decided to carry only one credit card and one debit card. Let’s see how this works out.

Pay off credit account before the end of the month. Again, when expenses from a previous month carry over into the next month, this totally messes with my head and my numbers.

The cash system would never work for me. NO CASH. Unless it is absolutely necessary.

At the end of this budget, I had a lot of useful number to work with. I still have no clue how much I actually saved. I tried to come up with the savings total by subtracting expenses from the total income for the month, and also by taking the ending balance of each account and adding them all together. The difference is the two number was about $250 but they both were positive number that were not zero. So yeah, no clue.

Hopefully this month’s system will help me keep better track of my savings. Budgeting is truly hard work, but it brings a lot into perspective.

What is a good way to keep track of savings?

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