• Jessica St. Petery

Learning to Budget

Financial Focus Series

This series will focus on all things related to living your best life with your finances. If you want to succeed with anything in life, you must have a clear plan. Having a clear plan and working that plan will help you achieve your goals. The point is to stay focused because you will go where you steer. The way to have a clear plan with your finances is to create a budget. Ok, I know people may cringe when they hear that word, so for our purposes we will call it a spending plan. A spending plan does exactly what is says, it gives you permission to spend (within some guidelines).


1. Write out your income and expenses. This can be as easy as grabbing a piece of paper and a pen. If you like technology, you can use apps and software such as Everydollar®, You Need A Budget™, and Excel® to help you in developing a spending plan. To get started, write down what your income is in a month and what bills you have for the month. Subtract your total income from your expenses.

2. Assign every dollar a job. If you have money left over after subtracting your income from your expenses, assign it a job. Assigning your extra money a job can mean putting it towards saving for a small emergency fund or putting it towards extra debt payments. You will want to make sure that every dollar has a place to go. Otherwise, you may spend it on something that you don’t remember.

3. Live on cash. The best way to stick to your spending plan is to feel cash leave your hands. Take out cash for those areas where you overspend (groceries, gas, restaurants, clothes). Get an envelope for each category and write each category on the envelope. Put the cash allotted for each category into the envelopes. Once you spend the money, it’s gone until you get paid again.

4. Get an accountability buddy. This person can be your spouse, or if you are single, a trusted friend. You want to choose someone who will be honest with you and tell you the truth when you really want to spend. Agree with this person that if you are planning to spend a certain amount of money, you will contact them first to discuss it.

Lastly, if you would like more information or if you are interested in sitting down with someone to develop your spending plan, please contact our Financial Coach, Jessica St. Petery at info@lifefocuscenternj.org.

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