Some days, as a single girl, I feel like I’m killin’ it. Other days, I’m convinced it’s killin’ me.
One of my biggest fears in dealing with my divorce was not being able to survive on a single income. When you suddenly go from two incomes to one, with all of the same bills, it’s scary business. I’d already been there and done that- after my first divorce- and it completely sucked. I lasted not even two years before giving up and returning home to my parents.
Now that I’m on my second year of singledom, I’m finding that juggling my finances is not as difficult as it was the first time.
So, what’s the difference?
The difference is that I learned how to budget my money. That’s all. No tricks… just a little math, a little trial and error, and a lot of determination.
Definitely, I’m no financial planner or mathematical whiz. (My sister got all of those genes in our family). But, I have learned a few things about budgeting in my ever-changing journey that have helped me tremendously. I wanted to share my budging tips because us girls have to help each other out. Right? Because honestly, we never know when we might need to be armed with a little budgeting knowledge. So, here we go……
I have two separate budgets- essentials and non-essentials.
I should explain that I am paid once a month. So, if you get paid weekly, or bi-weekly, your budget may be a little different from mine. First, I made a list of all of my monthly bills and expenses. For me, that includes my house and car payments, insurance, gas, food, utilities, savings, and dental expenses. After subtracting those things from my monthly income, the money I have left over goes into my non-essential budget.
My non-essential budget is flexible. After my bills have been paid each month, I distribute the remaining money into different categories. Some of those categories include clothing, house projects, and vacations/fun money. Sometimes, on a good month, all of those categories get a little love. Other times, I have to choose which of the areas get money.
My Favorite Budgeting Tips
*I try my best to wait until the end of the month to purchase house or clothing items. I purposefully wait to shop until that time. That way, it’s not as easy to overspend. There’s nothing worse than spending your money at the beginning of the month and then finding there’s an item at the end of the month that you just can’t live without. That can get a girl into trouble!
*When I first separated- before I began spending money on non-essential items, I built up my emergency savings. Trust me when I tell you that we can all live without new clothes, house items, or fun money for a while! In my emergency savings, I keep two months of essential expenses at all times. This is only for BIG emergencies. If ever I need to withdraw from this account, it becomes a priority to replenish it.
*After I put money into my regular savings each month, I try to forget about it. Otherwise, it will never grow. If I go over in any areas of my budget, I try to compensate with money from my non-essential areas. Using my savings is a last resort. However, I’ll use money from my savings before I use my emergency fund.
*I keep an overage fund. Sometimes, the bills in my essential budget are below what I budgeted. Every time I have leftover money in my essential budget, I transfer it to my overages. Then, when I go over in any essential areas, I use the money in the overage fund to pay the difference. Because, really, those holiday months kill my utilities. And sometimes a girl might spend more money on groceries when throwing a fantastic dinner (or Stella & Dot) party!
*Once in a while, I put myself on a spending freeze for an entire month. That’s an easy way to save for something you want quickly. Actually, I’m sure I could probably go an entire year without buying another piece of clothing. And, I’ve found that I can survive without going out. If you get creative, there are bunches of things you can do for fun without spending money.
In conclusion, budgeting isn’t hard.
It takes patience. If you overspend one month, don’t give up! It definitely gets easier with time. I’m sure I’ve developed spending habits that will stick with me for a very long time. I’m so much more aware of my purchases now and it’s actually fun being able to anticipate and purchase something I’ve saved towards. Just yesterday, I bought myself a fantastic pair of shoes at a great price. I was so excited to have them, I put them on immediately. Before, I bought so many things that I became unappreciative. Being single has definitely changed the way that I view life. I wouldn’t trade having plenty of money for the satisfaction of being self-sufficient. I wouldn’t have said that two years ago!!
I’ve discovered that success isn’t necessarily measured by the money in a bank account (or the amount of shoes in a closet). Success is finding solutions to problems and being able to learn and grow from challenges.
Do you have any budgeting tips? I’d love for you to share!