‘Living within your means’ is a phrase that we often hear but do you really know if you are living within your means or not?This is no. 7 in the pre-budget step in my budgeting for beginners series. To read the previous steps go back to the:
Once I had gone through my 7 pre-budget steps in 2017, I realised that I was consistently spending outside my means every single month of the year without fail. That fact is almost painfully obvious now that I have the benefit of hindsight. If you have very little in the way of savings and you have a ton of debt, that illustrates that you are living outside your means by default!
There is nothing as sobering in this world, as looking at your income and expenses written down in minute detail, side by side. You are faced with a choice in this case. It is likely that there are changes that need to be made to your finances to help you to move forward in all areas of your life.
If you have gone through the previous 6 pre-budget steps, you will know now whether you are living within your means or not. The next thing is to take positive action now that you are equipped with the truth of your financial situation.
Let’s Get In To Budgeting For Beginners:Are You Living Within Your Means Or Not?
Get Or Make A Budget Planner
Now is the time to assemble the numbers you have gathered in the previous 6 pre-budget steps. Enter these numbers into a budget planner and get to work on taking control of your money. I used a homemade planner using a lever arch file, some poly pockets, homemade trackers and printables. I used dividers to separate the months and I added some refill pad pages to keep notes. Go to my free budget planner post linked below to print out a 12 month budget planner with a calendar page and an In/Out page for each month.
Fill Out Your Budget Planner With Pencil As You Will Be Changing It A Lot!
I know this sounds so very obvious,but all that work you did in the earlier pre-budget steps will be of no value without you taking those numbers and committing them to an active monthly budget. Use a pencil for the first months of your budgeting journey as you will need to change your numbers all of the time. I still prefer to use pencil even after 4 years of budgeting. To read further details of how to fill out a budget planner read this post on my website:
Take time every single week to review your budget plans. In your calendar page fill in events that will challenge you budget.
This is an example:
Two of Ruth’s children have activities on Tuesday evening each week. There is a lot of driving involved and with homework and school runs, it is decided that on that Tuesday evening dinner would be always leftovers. So in Ruth’s budget planner she always puts a reminder in her notes to keep enough leftovers for Tuesdays dinner. This means that the temptation to get a takeaway is removed as there is always food ready at home of busy Tuesdays.
Meal Plan To Live Within Your Means
This brings me neatly on to meal planning. Now that you are deciding to live below your means you will NEED to meal plan. I say need because groceries are one of the most expensive parts of any household budget. You will find savings through careful meal planning without a doubt.
This does not have to be difficult. You do not need to start to produce professional grade meals just because you are starting to meal plan. A meal plan is just a guide to how you will use your food and your money as efficiently as possible. I always plan in a trash meal once a week to help us to avoid to the takeaway. This might be chicken nuggets and chips or some frozen pizza. Although more often than not we have our homemade pizza with is delicious and unbelievably cheap.
Conclusion For Living Within Your Means
There is little to say about this step other than now that you know where you stand it is time to get real with your money. It is completely irrelevant as to which budget planner you use, which budget guru you listen to or what social media you follow. No one will be able to tell you your own financial situation better than you can now that you have done the 7 pre-budget steps.
You can do it so go for it!