When I graduated from college, I made it a goal of mine to create a budget. I did a lot of research on what I wanted my budget to look like and what template would work best for me. I ended up creating an Excel spreadsheet that had categories for each of my spending habits, as well as formulas that would add and subtract the money that was coming in and out of my bank account.
Every Sunday, I would go through my bank account and add transactions to the Excel spreadsheet. By the end, ideally, the total amount at the end of the previous week would match the number I had in my checking account on that Sunday.
This rarely happened. Something would always happen where a bank transaction hadn’t posted yet, an amount had changed based off of a delayed tip, or I’d use a credit card instead of my debit card for a purchase, which wouldn’t show up in my checking account. I was constantly frustrated because I couldn’t keep up. I also wasn’t really budgeting my money. Instead, I was just keeping tabs on where my money had gone the previous week and would make a mental note to spend less the following week. (This also never happened).
I had been approached by my coworker Jackie Ruesink to QA a new budgeting app her husband Jake was working on back in May 2018. In the market for something new, I excitedly jumped at the chance to see how other people were budgeting their money.
After QA’ing Budgets for several months, Jake and Derek Wene were kind enough to ask me to be part of the team and a chance to market the app as their first Budgets partner in October 2018. Since then, they have guided and challenged me on creating a personalized budget that worked for my lifestyle and continuously encouraged me to stay on track, all while working together to make the app better. Rather than living paycheck to paycheck, I was starting to look ahead and my savings account started to grow. I was so excited! I was finally taking control of my finances and I had two people to help guide me along the way.
I began making longer-term goals, like saving $10,000 by the end of 2019, in order to start working towards a down payment on a new car or house. I knew exactly how much I needed to save each month in order to hit this mark.
Come May 2019, my car A/C went out. If you’re from Texas, you know that having A/C in your car at 5pm in the summertime is a must if you want to make your commute without being drenched in sweat. I took my car to the shop and found a plethora of other things that needed to be fixed ASAP (new tires, oil leak, spark plug replacements, etc.). The total was going to be a whopping $5500, and it was all unavoidable because I also needed to pass my car inspection in order to update my tags.
I was stunned, but I was ok because I had planned for this, whether I meant to or not. Because I had set my goal of putting aside money each month to reach that $10,000, I had the money sitting in my savings account. I was able to put the bill on my credit card (and get that 2% cash back — shoutout Citigroup Inc.) and pay it off the next month worry-free.
I would never have been able to afford that car bill if it weren’t for Budgets, or Jake or Derek. Because I started tracking where my money was going in advance and could see where my money would go each month, I was able to start saving and ultimately keep myself out of debt.
Budgeting is doable. Even if you have no idea where to start, download the Budgets app and play around with it. The onboarding tutorial asks you questions that will create a personalized budget just for you with the appropriate categories that you need. Once you do so, your next step is to add your bank accounts so that your transactions will sync automatically. This was a lifesaver for me, because not only did it save me time, but it did the math for me rather than manually adding each amount that I spent into Excel.
Get a 31-day free trial when you sign up to see how Budgets can help you take control of your finances and plan for the unexpected.