09 Dec Personal Budget: Before you start
Today I’ve done a wee post on getting started with your Personal Budget. These are some of the steps that I take when I’m getting ready to update my money plan for the coming year.
I like to talk about money. A lot. I think its important and I’ve gone into a lot of reasons why in a previous post HERE. I got some great feedback to the post but the main feedback I got was:
Yeah yeah, nice in theory, but what can I actually DO about changing my relationship with money?!
The answer is to get more comfortable with your money, and the best way to do that, is plan a personal money budget.
So I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is, (chortle!), and put together a short series of posts to help anyone interested get a little bit more ‘Cash Confident’ shall we say, for the new year! I’ve been busy putting together some new worksheets and resources for anyone interested in playing along at home as well! So for now let’s get started with Step 1.
**Disclaimer: Lads, I hate the word budget as much as anyone. Its like the word ‘Diet’, it just makes me feel all icky. But the thing is, for clarity its the easiest word to use. ‘Financial plan’, makes it sound like an insurance salesperson, and if I try jazz it up it sounds cheesy. So lets use Personal Budget for now, but lets think of it in a positive: ‘This will save me time, energy and money’ way, as opposed to: ‘Oh my God, fun died’, kind of way. Deal?
Step 1: Get Prepared for your Budget
OK so I’m not totally mad, its December, the run up to Christmas, and budgeting is the last thing on your mind. But its totally reasonable to start getting a little bit ready for a Cash-Check-In in January. You just need to do one small thing: Start Getting Ready.
I’ve helped lots of people with preparing a budget, but I can’t sit down with anyone until they’ve done the prep work.
To be perfectly honest, personally I think its the preparatory work that actually prevents people sitting down and making a money plan in the first place.
Its only when you sit down to plan you realise the amount of info you need to have to hand to begin planning your budget.
It takes time to gather the info you need, so for the next few weeks, lets just work on that. Simple right?
What you’ll need
As a disclaimer, theres no right or wrong way to ‘do’ a budget. If you google it you’ll drown in info. This is what I did when I decided to take control and it is a starting point for anyone I work with. There is no exhaustive list so feel free to add and take away as required!.
The following details and steps are what I use when I am starting a new personal budget:
A notebook for your Personal Budget notes
Start with getting a small notebook just dedicated to working out your money. You can use it to keep all the details we discuss below in one place, so you don’t have to go looking for the details every time you want to do a cash check-in and update your personal budget.
Your account details
As well as knowing where your bank account is, you should have a small list of the relevant IBANs, (International Bank Account Number) and BICs, (Bank Identifier Codes). That way when you want to begin connecting accounts you’ll have all of the details to hand.
You should also have your utility account details to hand. Your gas and electric accounts usually use a MPRN, (Meter Point Reference Number), and then other bills will often have account numbers. Think car insurance, TV licence, health insurance, even pension.
Basically you should have the details of any account that you use electronically in one place so if you do need to change supplier, or negotiate a new package you have all of the details together.
Relevant bank internet log in and authorisation devices
If you don’t already have internet access to certain accounts it can take a while to get it as often they have to send out log ins in the post etc. So its worth applying for those access requirements before you begin budgeting. Some banks use card readers to register new accounts onto your account so find out what you need and apply for them now. Theres nothing more frustrating than being all ready to make changes and not having the technology to do it!
You probably have a particular website that you use a lot, maybe a fashion or health website. For me it would be Amazon and Book Depository. I also use PayPal for most of my on-line accounts. When you get a minute, log into these accounts and look at your purchase history for 2018. You can usually specify a time-scale on these and see a list of what you’ve purchased during the year. If its not possible to download the account, make a screen shot of the purchases and print it off later.
A box. Preferably a fancy box
I have upgraded from a box to a drawer because kids come with a whole host of additional paperwork no-one tells you about. Basically anything official like bills and statements gets glanced at and immediately chucked in the drawer. I then schedule time to go through everything at a specified time.
For the next month, if you don’t already, throw all of your statements etc into the box so when you are ready to look at the cash-sitch in January, they’re all to hand.
ALSO, I wouldn’t even dream of asking you to track your cash over Christmas, but anything you do buy in cash that you can’t track online, you should just keep the receipt and chuck it in the box. If you grab a coffee or buy lunch out, a night out with the girls, some taxis… Anything you pay cash for keep the receipts for a few weeks so you can have a better idea what you spend.
Credit Card Statements
You can either print these online, pop into your local branch, or call your telephone bank and order them. Heres the trick, ask for the whole of 2018 so that you can see the whole year, and not just the last three months.
A 2019 Calendar
Grab yourself a year-at-a-glance calendar. Try Pinterest because they have so many beautiful things! Anyway sit down and have a quick look through your calendar and pop in bank holidays, your summer holidays, birthdays, weddings, basically anything coming up that will cost you money that you should be prepared for.
If you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic, a spending tracker app is a great thing to use. It can be hard to remember to fill it in all the time, but when you do it can gather a lot of info you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
And thats it!
None of this is meant in any way to make you feel uncomfortable, or sad, or mad or anything like that at all!
What gets measured gets done, and by collecting this information you are giving yourself the headstart you need to be able to properly sit down, when you are ready, and take those finance on head-on. It is impossible to go forward if you don’t know where you’re coming from or what you’re dealing with.
If you have any other tips or tricks for getting ready for taking on your personal budget I’d love to hear in the comments!
In the next post I’ll walk through the things to consider while working with a budget. But for now I’ve prepared a handy personal budget worksheet you can print off and use at home.
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And as always if you wold like more details on working with me on something like this, just drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.