Finances are an especially difficult issue to get into order. At the start of the month, it might seem like there’s plenty of money to spare. By the first week or two, you’re left wondering where it all went. Poor budgeting can be a real disaster if you’re trying to save money.
If you have no control over your finances, you have no control over your life. Fortunately, budget journaling provides great strategies to help you get power back over your spending. Journaling for budgeting shows your financial situation at a glance, so you can prepare for the weeks and months ahead.
What to write about when journaling for budgeting
There is no ‘right’ way to do budget journaling. It will vary depending on your financial situation and, if you’re trying to save money, what your budgeting goals are.
There are several different key parts of a budget journal, and you can mix and match them in whatever way suits you.
- Budget Record - Write down your overall budget, and predicted expenses for the week/month. How much can you allot to spend on specifics, like food shopping and bills? Prioritise expenses based on their importance.
- Expenses Tracker - Record your actual expenses alongside your budget, so you can see how realistic your budget was. You can also analyse unplanned or unnecessary outgoing expenses. This information is invaluable to planning future budgets.
- Income Record - Income is equally important to record. If you know how much money you have coming in, you can be clear on what you can afford to spend.
- Bill Tracker - You can also record your weekly and monthly bills in your budget journal. This avoids any nasty surprises you might experience by a bill appearing out of the blue, ruining your carefully planned budget.
- Saving Goals Record - Setting your pounds aside for something special? Want to save money for emergencies? Record your saving goals in steps and track your progress.
- Debt Payment Tracker - Similarly, you can record your payments towards any loans or debts, alongside any interest accumulated. Record smaller micro-goals towards your full payment. Draw a box next to each one to cross off or colour in as you achieve them.
How to use a goal planner for budget journaling
Goal planners are very useful for budget journaling. This is especially the case when you’re budget journaling to reach specific financial goals, like saving for a new car, or working towards paying off credit card debt.
Goal planners provide spaces to record daily, weekly and monthly expenses, savings and goals, so you can map out future budgets with all the relevant information set out clearly in front of you.
Journaling for budgeting provides a wide overview of your finances, helping you to plan your goals. Use your budget journal to make realistic goals based on your weekly and monthly expenses.
Let’s say your long-term goal is to pay off credit card debt. Your micro-goals might be:
- Cut out unnecessary expenses
- Set a cap for the monthly budget
- Put X amount of money aside in savings each week
A budget journal is fully customisable, which can help to make budgeting a bit more fun. Why not colour code each of your different expenses? Or how about setting out your saving goals in different typefaces?
How to save money with journaling for budgeting
The big question about budget journaling is: does it actually help you save money?
As with other forms of journaling, the key to journaling for budgeting is consistency. The more you fill in details of your income and outgoing expenses, the clearer a picture you will have of your financial situation.
With this information, you can make informed decisions when budgeting. You can then turn this information into action. Ultimately, the success of your budget journal depends on you, but through setting goals and seeing your money build, journaling for budgeting gives you a huge motivation boost to save money again and again.
If you build journaling for budgeting into your daily life, updating your budget journal for at least 5-10 minutes each day, you will soon begin to save money and reap all the benefits.
Don’t be worried if you make a few impulse purchases at the start. A budget journal is not intended to make you feel guilty about buying things, only motivated to make changes for a realistic budget. Once you get started with budget journaling, and see those extra pounds lining up, you won’t want to stop.