I want to share with you how I budget my life. I’m going to share tips and tricks on how to budget so you don’t spend money you’re not supposed to.
First, you need to figure out your income. You can’t budget very accurately if you don’t know your exact take-home amount. The easiest way to figure out your net pay is to look at a couple of pay stubs and do some basic math.
You can see here that for this check, my gross earnings is $1,157.00 and my net pay is $857.69. Net pay is your take-home pay. How do I figure out what percentage of each check is being taken out? It’s actually pretty simple. Take your gross pay, and take out anything that isn’t taxes (think healthcare, 401K, etc). I get $45 taken out each check for uniforms (I get an advancement twice a year to buy new work clothes), about $5 taken out for vision and life insurance, and 3% taken out for my 401K. Once I subtract all of that, I get $1,072.29. I then take my net pay, $857.69, and divide it by my new gross pay amount, $1,072.29. This will tell you what percentage of your gross pay you are keeping. It looks like I keep .7999 of my checks, or 80%.
Do this to determine how much is being taken out of your checks. Do this to estimate how much you’re getting paid for future checks:
When it comes to your next check, look at exactly how many hours you’ve worked. When I worked at Lowe’s, we actually punched in and out on the computer, so it was important to see exactly how many hours I worked that pay period, so I could figure out exactly how much I’m getting paid. At my job now, we write down how many hours we’ve worked, so it’s a lot easier to estimate how much I’m going to get paid the next check.
For instance, I know that for this pay period, I will have worked 87 hours and will have $240 worth of commission. So I multiply my hours by how much I get paid an hour (don’t forget overt time!) and add my commission together. Then, I subtract my 401K, vision and life insurance, and uniform amount. I take that new total and multiply it by .7999. This is the percentage I get to keep after taxes. Then, viola! You have how much you’re going to get paid!
Here’s an example:
Let’s say I get paid $10.00/hr, and I work 40 hours/wk, and get paid bi-weekly. Here’s how the math looks:
=$800 (.97) I’m taking out 3 percent, because that’s how much I put into my 401K
-$5.00 Vision and Life Insurance
My gross pay is $800.00 and my net pay is $580.00. I’m taking home $580.00 to pay my bills and everything else.
When it comes to future checks, like a month or more in advance, you can’t know exactly what you’re getting paid since you haven’t worked those days yet, but you can estimate. I always try to estimate the bare minimum, that way I end up having more extra money than anticipated.
I usually work more than 80hrs a pay period, but when budgeting in advance I only put that I’m going to work 40hrs, that way I don’t get an unpleasant surprise when I work less hours than anticipated. But, once you know exactly how many hours you’ve worked one day, you can adjust your budget accordingly. Like if I budgeted working 8 hours one day, but I actually work 10, at the end of the day I can adjust my prospective pay amount to reflect those two extra hours.
The next step is to find a platform you like. I started with writing everything down in a notebook with a pen. I quickly realized that was not going to work because I was constantly changing my budget – making it better and easier to navigate, along with adjusting my hours. I then decided to use my MacBook.
I used Microsoft Excel to do my budgeting for a while – several months. This is a good system to use if 1) you know how to work Excel, and 2) if you always have access to the document. I didn’t bring my MacBook everywhere with me, so I would take pictures of my budget on my phone and make notes to edit it whenever I needed to. Now, I’m pretty sure Google Docs has some sort of spreadsheet on it that you could use if you like the idea of using a formal spreadsheet, and you can use any computer to pull it up. I wanted to be able to look at and adjust my budget at any time and at any place. What do I always have on me 24/7? My phone.
Low and behold, I have finally found a system that works best for me. The Notes app on my iPhone holds so many pieces of my life together, my budget being one of them. Basically, I’ll have the date, in the next line how much I’m getting paid (I’ll also usually write down the hours + commissions for reference), then in the following lines I subtract all my bills. The total at the end is how much extra money I’ll have for fun stuff (eating out, Target trips, Starbucks, etc).
I literally have my life budgeted out through April of next year. I have goals I want to meet, and I need to make sure I’m making the right decisions to achieve my goals in the time frame that I want.
Budgeting my life out has SAVED me. I no longer spend too much on fun stuff, so that I don’t have enough money for bills. I don’t stress anymore because I know exactly how much money I’m going to have, and what bills I need to pay with each check. I used to just get surprised every other Friday morning because I had no idea exactly how many hours I worked or how much they took out in taxes. I HIGHLY suggest playing around with different budgeting techniques and find one that works well for you. It’s okay to change things around to better fit your needs.