Ugh budgeting. I couldn’t possibly dislike it more. I hate it for several reasons: A) when I actually look back on how and on what I spend money on it makes me feel like a total idiot a solid 60% of the time (the other 40: NO RAGRETS). B) it makes me miserable to actually have to sit down and list every Starbucks Black Tea Lemonade I down on the daily (my fave- highly recommended). And C) I think I just prefer pretending like it’s not a thing and then just being able to complain about not knowing where my money’s going 24/7 (because you know I love having something to bitch about).
But, unfortunately life, and stuff I wanna do in it, and things I want to buy, and places I want to be, have forced me into evaluating my finaces quite a bit in the past year. Especially now that I run my own business, I don’t mess around with that shit. Learning how to budget is both a matter of skill and habit, but it can be an absolute lifesaver!
Today, for The Summer School Series, Elder is going to teach us how to make our own budget and how he successfully sticks by it! Follow through for some great tips and a little freebie at the end of the piece! Hope we'll all be making it rain asap.
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do nowadays?
My name is Elder. I am from Ajaccio, France and I moved to Canada in 2011.
I studied four years of accounting. Then I did a five-month internship, which ended up being quite boring so I ended up going into Tourism and Travel because I love the interaction with people and guest services.
I went back to school recently for International Business and in the future I would like to work in counseling or teaching. Since last year I’ve been teaching some courses and I really love it. I love helping people, and my friends tend to always ask for my advice and take it into consideration, so it feels very natural.
I don’t like to do the same thing always, so I always like to try something new. Recently I’ve become passionate about water (kayaking, canoeing etc) and I’m looking to getting into cooking and Latin dancing.
How did you become interested in budgeting? Why is this something you do?
Ever since I was very young my parents taught me to value money and saving was a very important word for us. Always having money on the side in case something happened. As a teen, I always had a budget per month. I was given an allowance (about 50 CAD) but it wasn’t flexible. So I had to plan accordingly.
Around 16 I started my first job as a gardener and I enjoyed making money and since I didn’t have to pay rent or had any major responsibilities, the money would go into partying.
When I moved to Ottawa is when I really started budgeting. In 2013 I started studying Tourism and Travel. My parents were giving me 1k a month, and that amount I had to last me for rent, groceries, and the rest. I had no extra money and I wasn’t working so I had no extra income. I did my own Excel table to figure out how much I was spending per month. And I kept the habit up.
What are the top recommendations you have for young people interested in learning how to budget? What steps do you take?
The most important thing is to calculate your fixed expenditures. Mostly rent, cell phone, WiFi, hydro, insurance, etc. I suggest to also add an amount that they want to save per month. It’s good to also know for what in particular you might be saving. Fun, trips, schooling, to have a given amount to set aside etc. It’s good to have a second account to move the savings into. Savings accounts are usually harder to withdraw from as well.
Next, figure out how much you make per month to have an idea before setting your budget. When you have all this information, you can start budgeting.
For example, you earn $2000 per month, you have $1200 in fixed expenses, you want to save $300 and you’ll have $500 left per month to allocate to other categories.
I like to do my general budget plan every 6 or 12 months. So, following the previous example, if I had $500 left to allocate each month 500x12 is $6000. Then I think what I spend on each month: restaurants, activities (drinks with friends, kayaking, skating), travel, shopping, haircuts, gym, and always $100 you don’t touch just in case (for example having to buy meds or miscellaneous expenses).
It’s very important to think about what matters most to you and to be realistic as well. You may love going out to restaurants, but if you spend $300 in the month it means you only have $100 left to spend on everything else.
It takes me about three hours to build the budget yearly. For me it’s vital to sit there and really think about it. It’s better to put work into it at the beginning than be screwed with interest all the year after.
So, that’s for the grand budget. Then, once a week I spend 20 minutes filling in the fields of what I spent in each of the categories. I like using a card for my purchases and payments, as it is easier to track at the end of the week (and you won’t forget anything you paid for here or there).
Next, at the end of the month you check back to see how it went. If you find yourself $200 over the month’s budget, is not the end of the world. Next month you have that $100 cushion we had discussed, and you can try to be more intentional about your expenses to catch up. If it keeps happening then it would be a good time to really assess if you’re living within your financial possibilities.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Most friends don’t like to do budgets, so I get how tedious it can be. But eventually they come back asking for help in how to make one and stick to it. It’s exciting though because getting in line about these things have allowed them to buy a house, pay for a car, travel, etc. It sounds like a pain, but it’s definitely worth it! I’m happy that they come back and happier when they appreciate what they achieved with it.
Thank you so much Elder for sharing all this great information with us! If you would like to contact Elder you can reach him by email or through LinkedIn. He would love to hear how it went or if you have any questions!
And now, for the freebie: I adapted a template into a lovely little budget you can use on Google Docs. Did I make it pink and gorgeous? You betchaaa. But you’re more than welcome to recolour it to make it yours. I just need for something that is tedious and makes me miserable to not also be ugly. It’s basically an Excel document with 12 months and a year in review tab. You can open month by month and add your expenses and income in and it will all update the main page as you go. Working this program does take some mild Excel knowledge but I’m certain you’ll be able to figure it out. If not, I’m always here for you, my darlings. So, here’s how you get a copy. Given that it’s not a PDF I can just distribute, but a working document, you need to provide your Google Drive email below for me to share a copy with you. I will have one that is specific to you only, but as I believe you don’t want me being able to check out your finances, I recommend you copy it onto your own drive and work on that new copy. And that is all! That was wordy as hell but I swear it’s easier than it sounds!! Follow through here to sign up.
Talk to you soon lovers!!