Chapter 3 – “Give Yourself An Instant Raise Without Increasing Your Take-Home Pay”
She says this proven method to give yourself a raise without actually MAKING more money is called a BUDGET.
Crystal says a budget is for ANYONE, especially those barely keeping their heads above water.
I have to say that budgeting is something I am very familiar with, so I was going to just skim this chapter, but honestly, I have found there is a lot to learn, even for someone who already has a budget set up. I have found ways to SIMPLIFY our budget and also ways to be held accountable.
She talks about doing the THREE MONTH CHALLENGE.
RULE #3 – Set up a realistic, workable budget
Once again, I love how she is so realistic and practical and all about taking BABY STEPS and doing things in bite-sized pieces, in order to have greater long-term success.
She suggests starting small (especially for first time budgeters) and taking THREE MONTHS to “ease in” to the whole budget thing.
First month: The Food Budget
She considers this one of the greatest areas to cut down expenditures significantly.
To determine your grocery budget, look back over grocery expenses for the last few months and average out the weekly amounts. Multiply by 4 to get the monthly budget to start with. Withdraw the full monthly amount for grocery budget in cash for the month and put in an envelope. Take the weekly allotment to the store each week.
~ You can’t go over-budget. When it’s gone, it’s GONE!
**Don’t be alarmed if the first month of this is really a struggle. It takes time and practice. If it’s not working after a few months, it may need to be adjusted.
Second month: The Bare-Bones Budget
I’m not going to go into deep details over this, although the book expands upon each topic and how to set this up. This is such a great idea, though. I like this initial basic approach. It’s so simply and non-scary! 😉
One great tip she talks about is to figure out how much your actual MONTHLY expenses are, even if a particular bill is not paid monthly. For example, under utilities is “trash”. My trash bill is due quarterly. So, I would take that quarterly bill and divide it by 3 months and then set aside that amount each month (she recommends a separate checking account). Then, when the bills comes, that money is already available and budgeted for the trash bill. No big surprises, etc. It’s basically what your mortgage company does for you if you have an escrow account set up through them. Every month, part of your payment goes into an account so that when your real estate taxes and insurance premiums are due, the money is already there. It’s such a simple thing to do but I have to admit that I had to learn this the hard way several years ago. I got so tired of the semi-annual bills coming and “surprising” me, that I finally decided to start putting aside the amount needed each month so that it was there when the bill came and didn’t have to eat into the budget for when it was due. Make sense? It’s made a world of difference for us!
So, after the bare-bones budget month is done, then on to…
Third month: The Full-Fledged Budget
This takes the bare-bones budget to a whole new level and includes every area where money could go. This is awesome. Honestly, some people may at first see a budget as being too restrictive, but it really tells your money where to go, and allows you to control your money, instead of the other way around. It is actually quite freeing to know where it’s all going and to be able to manage it.
For more details on setting up this complete budget, along with lots of tips on how to allocate amounts, cut expenses, etc, consult the book. There is great, concise information that is very easy to understand and simple to implement.
Now I will be using these tips to simplify my own budget and get it on track!
Would love to hear any tips from you relating to your budget experience. If you are setting one up for the first time, or the second time, etc, then GOOD FOR YOU!!! Please share and insights you may have!