Tatted Mom's Guide to Living on a Budget

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I've never lived a lavish life. Even when I was at the height of tattooing, I could pull down maybe $1,000 in one weekend, I'd always turn around and either stock the house with food, or buy the kids much needed clothes, or pay the bills for the entire month. I wouldn't say I'm bad with money, but I'd be lying if I said I had a savings account with even a dime in it.

So budgeting has always been a part of my life. Sometimes the budget has allowed for "fun money," sometimes the kids and I have been forced to use our imaginations when it comes to fun activities, because that's all we could afford until the next payday.

vanilla flavoring

Credit Image: flowercarole on Flickr

Right now we're in the "can only afford imaginations" section of life, because of the move here. The moving company we chose were scheisters (I will be doing a review post on them here soon to warn other people), and we ended up having to pay twice what they quoted us to get my stuff back. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for us financially and then we're back to saving money and living life a little more. I can't wait.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to pass on some budgeting tips, Tatted Mom Style, of course. (For newbies, whenever you see a "Tatted Mom Style" or "Tatted Mom's Guide" post, you're in for an upside-down view of how I see things. Yes, the tips are helpful, but there are some crazy ones thrown in, because I don't see the world the way others do.) These tips are great if you have an unexpected expense that throws your finances in a whirlwind for a short period of time, or if you need to retrain yourself with money and need a longer term solution.

Tatted Mom's Guide to Living on a Budget

1. If you've never had to budget before, use The Envelope System to start. It's the best way to get a visual representation of money. Get a box of envelopes and mark each envelope with a separate bill name: "Rent," "Electricity," "Cable," "Food," "Gas," etc. When you get paid, remove most of your money from your account (keep in any money that used to automatically pay bills or bills that you pay online) in cash, and divide it into the various envelopes. When the money in the envelopes is gone, that's it. It keeps you majorly in check with paying for food or entertainment and is a great training tool. Personally, I don't use The Envelope System anymore, but I've had to do it numerous times over the years to get my brain back into budgeting mode.

2. Just say no. I understand "no" is negative and causes crappy feelings, but when you are budgeting, "no" is your best friend. Tell yourself no, tell the kids no, tell Hubby no, when it comes to buying things. If you get into the mindset that you are broke and can't buy anything, then it makes budgeting a hell of a lot easier. The funny thing is, if your financial situation is only temporary, it's hard to retrain your brain to say "yes" again when it comes to buying things. That's not a bad thing, necessarily. It keeps you from buying things you really don't need, even if you have the money to do so. Your mindset is probably the most important tool you have when it comes to budgeting.

3. Overestimate expenses and underestimate income. When you find a budget worksheet to track your incoming and outgoing money that works for you, always round up on your bills. If your cell phone bill, for example, is $62 a month, estimate $65 or $70. When you write down your income, round down. For example, if you make $1050 every paycheck, write down $1,000. Over-estimating bills and underestimating income means you always have a few more dollars on your side than your budget tells you. Don't count on this money. Forget about it and let it build. It's the easiest savings plan ever.

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