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If you were anything like me a couple years ago, the sound of the words ‘Finances’, ‘Budgets’, and ‘Taxes’ scare the heck out of you. Your finances don’t have to be scary. You can make your finances your new best friend if you take it seriously and make your money work for you. Managing your money can be quite simple if you let it, even if you have no idea where to start. That is why I put together an easy to follow guide with a free budget planner to help you create a budget from scratch. Getting your money organized will make you feel a million times better, trust me.
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Let’s create a budget from scratch, even if you are horrible with money!
I personally like to tailor our budget to these simple elements. These help us to effectively track and find what is left over for maximum savings growth.
- Monthly main income
- Any additional or side income
- Categorized bills and expenses
- Debt tracking
- Emergency and unexpected expenses
- Amount left over to save
Simplify your budget as much as possible.
Writing everything down is the best solution I have found to stay on track and stick to a budget. This is why I created a budget planner and tracker printable that can be used to create a budget from scratch with little to no effort! All you have to do it fill it out every month to help you stick to that budget.
Sign up to get your free budget planner!
Effectively manage your finances and grow your savings.
Keep in mind that everyone has different financial needs depending on their financial situations. There may be some sections and categories in this planner that may or may not apply to you. There may also be some additional sections and categories that apply to your financial situation but are not included in this freebie planner.
What if I need to create a budget for my business?
If you own your own business and need help with creating a budget on that scale, try Freshbooks. FreshBooks is amazing accounting software that can make running your small business easy, fast and most importantly: secure. You can easily track your expenses with it’s many low hassle features. This way you are always making the right business decisions and don’t get stuck with massive bills and debt in the long run!
Important tips while budgeting when using this planner:
- Note your monthly income, after taxes.
- Be sure to note any expenses that are taken out of your paycheck such as 401k contributions, health insurance, etc.
- Don’t forget any side hustle income! Track the income of your side hustles in their own categorized section, after subtracting any business expenses.
- Note your monthly expenses, by category. Using categories to can create a more specific and traceable budget for each category of expenses.
- What are your household monthly wants and needs? Once you decide what expenses you can cut, you can save even more with your monthly budget.
- What debt repayments need to be made this month? Note down the bill payments in the tracker and see if you have any room to pay more this month to keep interest low.
- Track what you were able to save this month in the savings column.
- Track any surprise or emergency expenses and how they were covered. You can also use this section to plan for emergency expenses and note any information you have on your emergency savings accounts.
- Continually track your progress by printing 12 sheets, one for every month. Compare the first one to the last one for an organized and comprehensive view of your finances from the whole year!
- Try to automate as much a possible. I love automating the way I save money with Digit. Digit saves money for me based on my income and spending.
Revisit your budget as situations change and make any tweaks as needed.
You should revisit your budget from time to time for modifications.
If you need to maximize your monthly savings, I suggest choosing items from your budget to cut. Cutting costs from your spending budget can be from several categories. You don’t have to only cut the ‘wants’ from the budget, you can get discounts on the ‘needs’ as well.
Cutting things from your budget isn’t as painful as you think. Think of what you don’t necessarily need or which bills you can potentially lower.
Lower your bills and lower your budget.
Need help lowering your bills? Trim will negotiate lower bills for you without you ever having to do a thing besides entering your bill and bank info when you sign up. Trim negotiated a savings amount of $17.40 a month on our AT&T bill. This will put us on track for a yearly savings of $208.80 just from lowering our cell phone bill with no consequence or loss of quality! See how much Trim can save for you here.
Maximize your savings with cash back applications.
If you are finding it hard to find things to cut from your budget, try maximizing your monthly savings with cash back applications. I get $10 cash back just by paying my web hosting bill with Ebates.
Other sites like Ebates to help you get the most cash back are as follows:
- Ibotta (it isn’t only for receipts!)
- Swagbucks (it isn’t only for surveys!)
- BeFrugal is another favorite of mine.
Some of my favorite cash back applications that I have been obsessed with lately:
- Dosh – All the perks of a cash back credit card without having to actually get one! Just link your current cards to the app and get cash back! No receipt scanning, no waiting for the bank to approve your rebate, nothing but instant cash back!
- Spent – I just started using this app and love it. This app will learn from you to help you organize your expenses and gives you cash back for your purchases. How cool is that!?
When you need to make more money and can’t cut anything else from your budget.
When you have already cut items from your budget and completely lowered your cost of living but still need to save more every month, you need to make more money. You don’t need to commit to a second job or anything. There are tons of ways to make extra money without getting a second job or ever leaving your house.
Here are some of my favorite ways to make extra money:
- Take online surveys for extra cash. Check out this list of 17+ sites that will pay you for your opinion.
- Become a freelancer or virtual assistant with Fiverr.
- Check out this post on how to make extra money with your phone.
- Get paid for your internet usage by installing Nielsen on your phone, tablet or PC.
- Become a host on Airbnb and rent out extra space for extra money!
- Drive part time for Uber.
- Sell your stuff on Poshmark, Decluttr or Amazon.
- Flip items on eBay.
- Take wellness challenges and win up to $10,000 on Healthywage.
- Start a blog. Check out these 28 sites that pay you to blog!
You can easily start earning some extra cash by starting a blog. Blogging is not a way to get rich quick but it can help with your current financial situation. You just have to be willing to put in the work to see results, like anything else in life. Don’t knock it until you try it.
If you have not yet started a blog and want to, or are having trouble with where to start, check out How To Create A Self Hosted WordPress Blog. If you sign up for Bluehost with my link you get a free domain, free site builders, free 1-click WordPress install, 24/7 support and all for only $2.95 a month! You really can’t beat that deal.
Here are some free blogging resources that have helped me on my blogging journey. Maybe they can help you too?
The Ultimate Blogger Freebie Master List
Sign up to get this master list of the top freebies for bloggers; free stock photos, checklists, courses, guides, planners, etc.
What strategies do you use when budgeting?
What other ways are you making your budget work for you? I would love to hear from you in the comments!
More ways to make extra money and save extra money:
- 22 Creative Ways To Turn Your Clutter Into Cash
- 45 Life Hacks That Will Save You A Ton Of Money
- 20+ Ways To Lower Your Monthly Bills
- 10 Things You Are Throwing Away Your Money On
- Tips For DIY Yard Cleanup And Landscaping On A Budget
- How to Lose Weight Fast in 2018 Without Breaking The Bank
- How To Save $500 Dollars A Month
- 12+ Ways To Travel For Free
- How To Take An Unrealistic Road Trip On A Realistic Budget
- How To Score Free Concert Tickets
- 17+ Ways To Make Extra Money By Taking Online Surveys
- How To Make Money With Pinterest
- How We Make Extra Money From Flipping Items On eBay
- 10 Effective Ways To Make Money Blogging
- 15+ Ways To Make An Extra $100 Every Day
Resources That I Can’t Live Without
Below are my top recommendations for saving money, making money and living a more frugal and sustainable lifestyle.
Nielsen: Nielsen will pay you for your internet usage. All you have to do is download their app and register your devices. It is noninvasive, will not impact your device’s performance and is 100% secure. Then you get rewarded for using the internet like you do any other day! I currently have it installed on all of my devices and it is nice for a little extra income.
Swagbucks: Swagbucks is where you can earn points called swagbucks or SB that transfer into real dollars. Earn money by taking surveys, shopping online, watching videos, discovering content or downloading other apps. Every 100 SB = $1.00 USD.
Cashback Research: Get paid up to $75 per survey and $150 per clinical study. Sign up with my link to get $5.
HealthyWage: You can participate in individual weight loss challenges where you set a specific goal using their calculator and get paid when you reach that goal. There are also jackpot challenges where you compete as an individual or as a team and if you win you can split the jackpot, or step challenges where if goals are met you can split the pot of earnings.
Spent: Spent is a simple, intelligent and FREE expense management app that pays you cash back for virtually everything you buy. This app will learn from you to help you organize your expenses and gives you cash back for your purchases. If you have an iphone, download it here. If you have android, click here.
Ibotta: Get cash back for scanning your receipts or shopping through the app online. Sign up with my link to get $10 cash back on Ibotta.
Dosh: All the perks of a cash back credit card without having to actually get one! Just link your current cards to the app and get cash back! No receipt scanning, no waiting for the bank to approve your rebate, nothing but instant cash back!
Digit: Digit automatically saves money for me when I am not looking. I like that I can trust it not to save money for me when I can’t afford it. The app evaluates my bank account to see where there is room to save and when to do it.
Stash: Stash consists of ETF’s for a minimum investment of $5. You automate your daily, weekly or monthly investment, track your retirement and tons more. Get $5 of Stash today with my link.
HelloFresh: We get 3 meals a week for $30 for the first week and $60 every week after. I did extensive research when it came to meal delivery services to try and out of all of them, HelloFresh was the cheapest with most quality and with the most variety. We love HelloFresh, especially their Italian sausage orzo recipe! Get $30 off at HelloFresh with my link.
$5 Meal Plan: Try meal prepping with $5 Meal Plan, a weekly meal plan service that can simplify your meal planning beyond belief for just $5 a month and for free for the first 14 days. If you have a specialized health need, they have several specialized meal plans to tailor to those needs too.