Monday, 26 February 2007

how to budget if your name is plonkee

I could write a post telling you all how to budget. But that would be against my first principle, which is that different methods suit different people. So I will tell you how to budget if your name is plonkee – i.e. how I budget.

Before I started my first proper job, I had to guesstimate how much all the bills would cost. I picked a ball park figure of £400 per month. I then guesstimated my rent at £200 per month and my general spending at £200 per month. I decided that £300 would be saved. This was my first ever budget. I have no idea if I stuck to it as I didn’t track it at all. I do know that I managed to accumulate a bunch of money in savings.

Since then I’ve refined the system somewhat. The first refinement came in actually using the amounts that I paid for the bills to estimate them. I also switched to direct debit, so I’m less likely to mess up and not pay them on time. The second refinement was to put all this into a spreadsheet and create a zero-based budget. That is that I allocated every single pound to something – including a healthy category for spending on fun which currently stands using the spreadsheet as a template, varying according to the circumstances, and then tracking what I actually spend each month. I think I got the idea of a zero-based budget from get rich slowly.

This is how to budget if your name is plonkee.

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