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How To Stick To a Budget

Interview with Raya at City Girl Savings

MM: Hi Raya and welcome to Molly's Money. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about budgeting. This is your area of expertise as a budgeting coach and this is something that I know a lot of women struggle with. 

MM: There are so many types of budgets and expense tracking sheets etc. What kind of budget do you advise women to start with?

CGS: Thank you so much for having me! I truly am an advocate for budgeting, so anything I can do to help spread the word, I’ll do! As painful as this process may be, I suggest women start with a manual budget. Meaning, list out all of your income over the course of the month, list out all of your expenses over the course of the month, and properly allocate what is left over – this left-over amount should be put towards a little discretionary spending, savings and/or extra debt payments.

Once that initial manual set up is done, transitioning to a spreadsheet would be the best next step. Starting off manual really allows you to get a full view of your situation.

MM: A lot of people start out fully motivated to budget, they create a budget and then a few weeks later they stop budgeting. What do you say to help women who struggle with discipline to stick to a budget?

CGS: Find an accountability partner! Budgeting is just like working out – if it isn’t a habit, it will take a lot of extra discipline to get it done consistently. Have an accountability partner, a coach, or a community to hold you accountable to sticking to your budget can do wonders. I promise, it does get easier!

In my one-on-one coaching program, I meet with clients every week for 12 weeks to discuss their budget and spending. At the end of our time together, the client already has a set day and time that they focus on their money. I encourage them to continue those weekly sessions on their own – setting up phone and calendar reminders to ensure they don’t forget. It takes a conscious effort, especially in the beginning.

MM: What if you have made a budget a few times but it never helped you to stay within your means?

CGS: In the cases where women can’t stick to a budget due to overspending, the issue is deeper than the budget. I challenge women to really think about what is causing them to overspend and throw their budget out the window. Are they depressed, so they want to shop? Are they rewarding themselves for a hard day of work? Are they afraid to say no to others and spend when they really don’t want to? There are so many reasons why a person overspends, so it’s up to the person to be honest, open and self-aware to get to the root of the problem.
 MM: Do you think it is possible to take control of your finances without a budget? if so, how?

CGS: I don’t think it’s possible to take control of your finances without a budget. I say that because having a budget is the ONLY way to truly know what’s happening in your financial situation. Your budget should lay out everything – income, expenses, savings. This takes it all out of your head and puts it on paper. When you know exactly what you’re working with, you can make the right decisions to take control.

MM: Any other thoughts on how to create and stick to a budget, that you think would help women who are starting out?

CGS: Yes, I have a few thoughts:

1) Make budgeting an enjoyable experience by setting the stage. When you’re getting ready to review/create your budget, light a candle, play some classical music, make a cup of coffee. Make it an enjoyable experience!

2) Make sure you factor in the fun and variable spending. Most people forget to include the expenses that don’t have set amounts or due dates each month (think groceries, gas, dining out, toiletries, household items, etc.). You’ll set your budget up for success by making sure those things are accounted for.

3) Designate a set day and time each week to track your spending, and each month to review your progress with the budget. On the last day of every month, I do a “Month End Money Pulse Check”. I use this time to review my budget, spending and savings progress from the month. This review helps me move forward accordingly when creating my budget for the next month. MM: Thank you so much for your time and replies Raya! 

CGS: Thank you so much for having me! It was an honor. 😊 

Raya Reaves is the founder and budgeting coach at City Girl Savings. She is dedicated to helping working women to reach financial success through proper budgeting and money management techniques. Check out her website here

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