Personal Finance & Managing Your Budget with a Money Journal

Personal finance and managing your budget is tricky. That’s why we’re sharing tips and tricks for tracking your spending and saving your money.

The word budget often creates the same reaction from people as the word diet does. As soon as you put yourself on a budget, all you can do is think about the things you can’t buy and the money you can’t spend.

However, that is not the purpose of a budget (or a diet). If done right, budgets aren’t meant to limit you, but rather empower you. A budget will help you gain control over your money, rather than your money controlling you.

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t formally trained in this department and personal finance and budgeting in adulthood quickly becomes overwhelming.

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Personal Finance: Set up a Budgeting System that Works for You

The point of setting up a budget is to know exactly how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out. Start by listing out when you get paid and how much. Then list out all reoccurring monthly bills, how much they are and when they are due. Lastly, list out any other expenditures you may have (think, groceries, gas, going out, hobbies, etc.).

Now, put this into a phsyical budgeting system that is going to work for you. Whatever it is, if it’s not working for you, it’s working against you (and your bank account). There is no point in downloading an app to help you budget, if you aren’t going to use it (regularly). So, be it, an app, spreadsheet or a budget binder you create yourself, figure out which system is going to be easiest for you to commit to using on a regular basis. Have sections for your incoming and outgoing cash flow, as well a section for bills, savings and other expenses.

In the wonderful age of technology, there are SO many options out there to help you with this. (My husband and I use the old fashion method of writing it all out monthly in a journal, but also use the app HoneyDue to track all of our accounts in one place on a daily basis.) Do your research, or even consult with your local bank to see what services they can offer  you. Often, speaking with a finical advisor at your bank is no additional cost. Just the time and effort you have to put in to set up an appointment and go to it.

Pay Yourself First 

My golden rule in budgeting is to pay yourself first. Meaning, even if you are living pay check to pay check, you HAVE TO find a way to pay yourself a little bit (aka: putting money in your savings account). Just treat it like another bill that you owe, and this one is the most important one. It’s gonna be hard, and sacrafices will have to be made, but saving even only $50 a month is better than no dollars. Do what you can, with what you have and get creative on how to pay yourself a little more each month.

Think about it this way, you work sooooo hard for that money. And then at the end of the month you pay it all out to everyone else, just to do it again next month and be right back a zero. That feeling is so defeating. I know it all too well. So even seeing just a small amount in savings will build your finical confidence and help you begin to feel in control of your money.

The goal would idealy be to set aside at least 10% of each paycheck, BUT do what you can and just start this habbit NOW.

Set Up Automatic Payments

Do yourself a favor, and set up automatic payments for reoccurring bills. Another important part of your personal finance would simply be, paying your bills on time. Missing or being late on those reoccuring monthly bills is, well…just lazy and dumb. Not only will you have to pay more in fees, BUT it’s a double-wammy becuase it will also affect your credit score negatively.

Take the time one Saturday morning and set up automatic payments for all of your utilities, and credit cards, etc. I also have an automatic transfer to my savings account set up to occur twice a month, just after I get paid….because we pay ourselves first, remember! ;P

Track Your Spending 

Managing your budget is also going to include tracking your spending habbits. And I really mean tracking it down to the exact dollar amount. That candy bar you picked up in the check out line at the gas station, that coffee you grabbed when you had time between meetings, those girl scout cookies you bought on the way out of the store… Track. It. All.

You will be really surprised by the amount of frivolous spending that you do and how quickly it adds up. Just a candy bar, coffee and a couple of girl scout cookie boxes will easily add up to $20-$25. And although these things may bring a *little* joy to your day, that could have been the $25 you put into savings when you said you have no where to save in your budget.

Discipline is key.

The hardest part of being on a budget is going to be the self-discipline. It’s not all about saying no to things that cost money. It’s about having a plan for your money and then holding yourself accountable for it. Maybe you have a larger budget to work with, where you can frivolously spend a couple of hundred dollars each month (which is awesome, good for you!) but for the sake of starting a budget, I still suggest tracking  where you’re spending that play money too. The numbers may surprise you and encourage you to spend your money and time in different ways.

Whenever you find yourself whipping out your wallet, also make sure you are taking note of how much your are spending and on what. You can do this in a little travel notepad or even by keeping a log in your phone. I personally like the old school method of writing all this out in a little journal. The extra physical act of writing out my budget and spending habbits makes me hyper aware each time I spend money. Becuase now I know I have got to record it in my book. Making me all the more accountable to stick with my original plan.

Do this for a month to see what your results are and how it may influence you to plan/spend differently the next month.

Use ‘Debt Snowball’ Method for Paying Down Debt

Getting out of debt and staying out of debt is a key component of finical success and building up and building confidence in your bank account. If you haven’t heard of Dave Ramsey before, let me virtually introduce you. He is the money guru/get out of debt king. If you are struggling with debt, I highly suggest checking out his website and rescources. He can be stickler for his methods, but speaking from experience- they work.

In a quick version of what Dave Ramsey teaches: He will encourage you to focus on paying off your debts one at a time (yes, you are still making all the monthly minium payments on all debts), starting with your smallest debt first. Once your smallest debt is paid off, you then take that monthly payment and apply to your next smallest debt.

Example: loan A is $1000 with a $25 a month payment. Loan B is $2000 with a $50 monthly payment. Once loan A is paid off, you take the $25 monthly payment you were using for loan A and apply it to loan B, now making loan B’s monthly payment $75. You do this over and over again, creating a ‘snow ball’ of payments that gets bigger with each loan that you pay off. 

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and lastly,

The major benefit to budgeting is…

less stress.

I know initially, tackling a budget is stressful, but once you’ve got a budget in place and system that is working for you it will dramatically decrease your stress around money. No matter what finical obligations life throws your way, with your budget in place you will have much more confidence in knowing that you are in control of your money and where it goes.

SO, all in all, budgeting is cool and you should be doing!

If you have any tips or tricks that you use in your Personal Finance and budgeting, please let us know in the comments! We’re always looking for better ways to ‘adult’, aren’t we all?!

Mini Photos Books – Not Your Grandma’s Brag Book

Mini Photo Books are perfect for your everyday favorite moments. Bring back the brag book with these handmade photo albums.

Our mini photos books make the perfect little gift for loved ones. They will keep busting it out to show off to others, or just to enjoy a walk down memory lane. These brag books are great for holding your everyday snaps or for those more memorable moments, like birthdays and celebrations.

Today we’re sharing with you 5 different ways you can use these mini photo albums, but the possibilities are endless.

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Mini Wedding Albums

Putting your favorite wedding day photos into one of these mini albums make the perfect gift for parents and grandparents. Parents, in-laws and grandma’s are all going to want pictures from your special day. A little album like this is a chic and stylish way for them to display and show off their growing family. The best part is, they are custom made and can be made to match the color from your wedding.

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Everyday Snap Shots and Polaroids:

These Mini Photo Books are the perfect size for your polariod and insta snaps. Use our double-sided tape to secure your images in place.

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 First Day of School Pictures:

You know all of those cute first days of school pictures mommas like to take? Well, this is a great album for printing out those pictures and saving them all in one place, year after year.

Baby’s Brag Book:

A Mini Photo Book is perfect for all those weekly/monthly photos you want to take of your new little bundle of joy. We know those monthly snaps are posted on Instagram + facebook, but don’t forget to print them out and put them in a baby brag book to look back on as they grow!

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Pet Portraits:

And for those of us without human babies, we suggest using a mini photo book to show off your fur babies! Pets are family too, you know?!

Tell us in the comments, What would you use a mini photo book for?