Hopefully y’all have read my first post on finances. There, you learned that 2018 was FULL of financial mistakes. It’s 2019 now, and I’m getting myself, and my finances, together.
So, if you live without a family member, pay rent, or are doing the real thing by yourself with no real adult help, you have come to the right place. I’m going to teach you how to make it on your own!
#1. Have a FULL-TIME Job!!!
Seriously. Not even kidding. You either need to have one full time job with consistent, guaranteed hours OR two part-time jobs that you can CONFIDENTLY say you can make the schedule and hours work. You need a consistent number of hours each week. If you work the same number of hours a week budgeting will be one hundred million times easier to do. Trust me.
I tried working one part-time job for about the first five months I was living on my own. BELIEVE ME. It does NOT work. If you read my first post on finances, you know I dug myself a deep hole those first five months that I was on my own. For the next three and a half months I worked two part-time jobs. It. Was. Awful. I had to change my availability for my first job because my second job had specific hours that I had to work. Lucky for me, my boss at my second job was totally chill with letting me pick my hours and days I worked. However, having to constantly adjust my schedule to make the two jobs work was a constant struggle, and hardly worth the headache.
For the past about five months I have been working one full time job. Let me tell you, this is the way to go. I have a guaranteed thirty-nine hours a week, benefits if I want them, and the security of knowing I have a good job and I’m happy where I’m at (granted I work retail but where I work it’s as good as it’s going to get).
#2. KNOW how much you’re getting PAID!
I learned this fairly recently. Over the summer I dabbled in a daily journal with a finances section. But I was constantly editing the budget because things were always changing. The journal approach did not work.
Early into fall I discovered the BEST way to create and manage my budget. I opened Microsoft Office Excel, and opened three sheets on the same file. The first two sheets are for mine and James’ schedules. I just use that as a way to see how our schedules line up day by day. I also mainly use James’ schedule sheet because he does not work full time, so he has pretty unpredictable hours. I keep track of how many hours he works a paycheck, and calculate how much money is taken out in taxes. I found out how much is taken out of each paycheck by Googling “income taxes of working in ____ county and living in ____ county Indiana. Income taxes get kind of wanky when you’re working and living in different counties, but that is not the case for James and I, so I didn’t have to figure it out. Let me know if you want me to do some research though! Anyway, I learned that after taking all of your income taxes, in the county that James and I work/live in, we get to keep 80.93% of our earned wages (honestly how ridiculous is it that the government takes 19.07% of our paychecks?!). Every pay period I check my timecard at work to see exactly how many hours I worked. I get a better estimated paycheck amount when I do this. Then, the Wednesday before we get paid (we get paid on Fridays) I am able to view our paystubs and see exactly how much we are getting paid (and I get to see how accurate my math skills are). I insert those amounts into the third spreadsheet and create my budget. One side I have James’ paychecks, and on the other side, I have mine. Down the middle I have the dates we each get paid. James and I get paid on alternating Fridays, so every week one of us gets paid, which is really nice.
#3. Have a separate bank account for BILLS and STICK to the BUDGET!
I have to give credit to James on this one; it was all his idea. James thought over the summer that we should share a bank account that is specifically for bills. I kept telling him that I wanted to wait until marriage for something like that. I thought it was something special that we should wait for. BUT I was way wrong. I gave in a couple months ago and I think it’s the best decision we’ve made in regards to budgeting our finances. I calculated all of our bills that we shared, divided by two, and then added our personal monthly expenses. I then divided each of our total bills by two (for two paychecks a month). The amount I came up with was the amount of money that needed to go into our joint bank account for bills each paycheck.
It looked something like this:
/2 (Me and James)
=$250/paycheck into the joint account
=432.50/paycheck into the joint account
So, James had to adjust his paycheck distribution to $250 going to the joint account each paycheck, and me $432.50.
Now our money for bills is separate from our spending money! There is no more worrying about over spending on fun things because our bills money is separate from the fun money! The leftover money we have goes towards groceries for the week, and at the beginning of the month electric (we keep electric separate because it’s different every month/season). Whatever we have left goes towards fun things like eating out, video games, or clothes!
That’s basically it!
To summarize: calculate how much you make a paycheck, calculate your bills, and see what luxuries you can afford (name brand food, monthly subscriptions, shopping, etc). Create a separate bank account for JUST your bills. BELIEVE ME. It is a total game-changer. Make sure you are actively monitoring how many hours you’re working, and adjust your budget when you’re working more or less (especially less) hours than you anticipated. Adjust your budget as soon as you notice a change, that way you’re well prepared.
Do you have any financial tips of your own? How do you balance bills and fun goodies? Let me know!