You’re a mama and you’re looking for help with your finances. I get it. I have been there. Feeling alone. Feeling out of control. Not knowing where to turn or how to get a handle on your finances, your mothering, your life… Look no further, friend! I’ve distilled a lot of complex information into this quick start guide to help you, well, get started.
Step 1 // NET WORTH
OK, wait! Don’t skip ahead. I know that would be my initial reflex. It feels like a minor step in the grand scheme of getting your finances and life in order. It’s not. It’s usually a turning point – the task that tips the scales towards true desire for change.
One warning, this can often lead to a pretty crappy realization. Don’t wallow. You’re here and you’re moving towards a place of intention and control. You’ve got to know the truth about what you’re dealing with before you can change things.
Go for it girl. Go.
Step 2 // DEFINE YOUR VALUES
So, this step is HARD. It’s deep work and if you choose to skip this step or stay superficial in your answers, the rest of this process just won’t work. Do the work friend. You will NOT regret it.
When my husband and I first started down the road of paying off $100,000 in debt, we took this second step because we began dreaming of a future without debt payments. We began dreaming and realizing if we didn’t have $1000 in payments every month we would be able to reach towards goals that had been feeling unattainable.
We began by answering this one question…”Where do we want to be in 5 years?”
Step 3 // TRACK YOUR SPENDING
OK, you’ve done so much hard work! Good for you. I’m really proud of you for making it this far. Now comes the pre-budgeting tasks – you’ve got to figure out how to track all of your spending. All of it.
If you pay with cash, keep receipts, and write down each expenditure on a spending tracker printable. I know there are apps for this, although I’ve not used one. I do know “Personal Capital” will track spending for you. I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure about its usefulness. We use YNAB for all of our budgeting – which also includes tracking our spending. YNAB is not free but it connects to all of your bank accounts and automatically imports transactions for you – all you have to do is categorize them. Also, there’s “Every Dollar” from Dave Ramsey, which has a free version.
At this point, don’t worry so much about setting up a budget, you’re just trying to track every single penny that you spend. Everything. If you’re not putting in those $1.31 transactions than the next step will be harder to get right. Trust me. Be completely honest with yourself on what you’re spending. Don’t judge each other or yourself. Just write it down and move on.
Track your spending for a month.
Step 4 // CREATE A BUDGET
Alright, so now you’ve got your month’s worth of expenses tracked. Get that data out and have it in front of you. Go through each of the expenses and begin putting them into Categories. Categories that you’ll likely later use as budget categories. Some examples may include:
- Housing – under this we split expenses into Mortgage, Water Bill, Trash Bill, Phone Bill, etc. But, you could lump all of those expenses into one category called Housing and leave it at that.
- Transportation – gas, car insurance, maintenance, etc.
- Personal – Fun Money, Clothing, Kids’ Activities, etc
I think you get the idea. This is pretty personal. Your categories are going to be based on all those expenses you just tracked. They likely won’t fit into my categories. We live different lives and that’s cool. No worries. If an expense is strange and you don’t know where to categorize it, just make its own category. It’s your budget friend, you can do whatever you want! Cool, right?
Step 5 // CELEBRATE
Congratulations. I am REALLY, really proud of you and you should be proud of yourself.
Please, don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re still feeling stuck or confused or just want to chat about all of your awesomeness. Because, that’s the truth friend, you ARE awesome.
You got this!