Doing a budget to see what your income and expenses are quite simple, but it requires a little bit of math.
First thing to do is get a piece of paper and pen to write your income and expense down. It’s easy to do it in your head and get an estimate. But once you write it down, you’ll be surprised how much money you’re spending on things.
Have two columns. On the left is income and on the right is expense. All you’ll be writing is the description and how much you’re receiving or spending on that description.
In the income column, for the description write job income. Next to the description, write how much your income is in a month after taxes and deductions (net income). I recommend trying to figure out how much you make without any overtime.
If your spouse works, write her job income below it. If you would like after that, you can write overtime income below that to separate how much you make on overtime. P
Please keep in mind your overtime income may vary month to month. Lastly, add any regularly income you may receive from somewhere else (a side business, side hustle, etc.).
Next is to track the expenses for the month. And write down the smallest you can think of.
Some examples of expenses every household may have is:
- Utilities (Gas, Water, Trash, Electricity)
- Car Payment
- Car Insurance
- Other Insurance (Home, Life, etc.)
- Student Loans
- Car Gas
- Phone Bill
- Credit Card Bills
- Children after school programs (karate, gymnastic classes, dancing, etc)
I’m sure the list can go on, but its important to figure out how much you pay each month.
If the bill amount changes every month (such as for utilities and phone bill), try to do an average or write an amount that is a few dollars above what you normally pay. I like to write an amount that is a few dollars above what I normally pay to ensure I stay within my budget.
Last thing to do is add all the expenses up and see how much you spend monthly. Is it what you thought you spend monthly? Is it more? Is it less?
If your expense is less, that is awesome! Keep it up and see if you can knock out some expenses to save you money.
If it is more, you may want to look at re-evaluating your finances. Look at your expenses and see if there is something you can get rid of. Remember from the last post, really evaluate if you WANT IT or NEED IT.
As first responders, a lot of us do not want to make decisions during our free time. We are constantly making decision regularly at work and the last thing we want to do when we get home is to make more decisions.
But we need to overcome that mindset in order to get ahead in life and allowing the job control us.
Track your income and expenses! By writing down your income and expenses on a piece of paper and see the actual numbers in front of you, it can really be an eye opener for some people. People in this day and age are used to using credit cards for everything and don’t really know what their spending their money on. By seeing where your money goes, you can re-evaluate if you are on the right track to a life of financial independence or if you need to get rid of some expenses to begin your life to financial independence.