by Lisa Marie Lentz

Starting to budget might sound scary, but once you get started it is a great way to keep track of your finances.

There are several options for getting a budget started.

  1. The envelope system. – With this approach, you put the allotted cash for items like food, clothes, gasoline, etc. into envelopes and once the cash is gone, you don’t spend any more. This is the simplest budgeting concept, and the easiest to follow.
  2. Paper or computer spreadsheet. – Start with columns with each expense and assign a dollar amount. Simply deduct the transactions to see where you are and what you have left.
  3. A budgeting app like Mint or Everydollar. – check them out and take for a test run. This is often an easy middle ground between envelopes and paper budgeting. Try https://www.mint.com/budgeting-apps/4-things-you-did-not-know-a-budget-app-could-do or https://www.everydollar.com/

If you aren’t sure what amounts to budget, there are a couple of ways to find a starting point.

  1. Track your spending for a month or two. Once you have a good idea what you regularly spend, you can build the budget off that. If you find yourself with more month at the end of your money, you can take a hard look at what you’re spending and make cuts.
  2. Check out the IRS standards for your household size. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/national-standards-food-clothing-and-other-items This is a good starting point. If you spend less on some and more on others, just make some tweaks and you have a budget.

If you just cannot afford your regular expenses and pay back your debts, call for a free bankruptcy consultation. It’s not scary, and John has some good ideas that can help. We have a low fee guarantee on Chapter 7 filings this summer to help you with that budget as well.