Creating a realistic budget taking into consideration mindful expenses is essential for affording a simpler life. We live in a consumerism society where the thought of managing your money is so foreign for many of us. Yes, I’m including myself in the mix. I was not mindful of my expenses nor have any savings or financial plan for the future. Just to give you an example, it took me over 10 years to pay off my student loans. I finally got to do so following our financial advisor strategy of having budgeting bubbles.
As mentioned during my last post, our financial advisor helped us create a budget to maximize the extra amount of money left in our pockets after paying all recurrent monthly bills, setting money aside for savings, emergency funds, etc. This extra money made a HUGE difference in our finances and accelerated the pay off of our debts. Ok, let’s get to it and talk about THIS Simple Woman budgeting bubbles. Keep in mind, only the saving bubbles will be discussed in this post.
These budgeting bubbles are like saving accounts for different budget categories. The goal is to set aside XY amount of money each paycheck to put into those accounts, allowing you to have the funds available when needed. Although taken into consideration in the overall budget strategy, these are not for monthly bills (e.g., mortgages, auto loan, etc.) or recurring monthly expenses (e.g., Internet, TV streaming, etc.). Those will be discussed in my next post. For now, let’s take a look at the saving accounts bubbles. Since I’m a visual person and a simple woman, below my budgeting bubbles reveal.
Income – First, we considered all our income, which is represented as one big bucket. From there, the money will be moved (automatically) into the different savings accounts every pay period.
Emergency Fund Savings – From all these saving bubbles, this is the most important and the first one we worked on. Before we started putting money into other bubbles, we made sure our emergency funds were available for at least three months of expenses and bills. With all that happened in 2020, this bubble is for sure a must.
Non-Monthly Bills Savings – These are for things paid yearly, quarterly, or any other term different than monthly. Items on these bubbles are Costco membership, Amex annual fees, Professional Development fees, Home Owner Association (HOA), and Seasonal Campsite (YES! Happy Camper Here!).
Discretionary Irregular Expenses Savings – These are things you may spend on in the future but don’t have a price tag for them. In this bubble is where having mindful expenses came into play for us. I will write a post about this specific bubble later on, but for now, the short story. Since these items are not for a fixed billing amount, we assigned a budget amount to each of them. The amount was based on what was needed and realistically affordable. Some items in this category are clothing and shoes, hobbies, vacation and travel, and gifts.
Vehicle Maintenance & Replacement Savings – My husband and I drive old cars. They are already paid off, and no need for replacing them, but only maintaining. We also own a truck, which we mostly use to tow our trailer during the camping season, hence requiring less maintenance than the older cars. Auto repairs and maintenance can be expensive. Sometimes in the thousands. In our situation, having a bubble just for this makes total sense to me.
Home Maintenance Savings – This one is pretty straight forward. If you own a property, you will need to repair and maintain it. Having your A/C broken in the summer time and paying $11,000 for replacing it is not something you don’t want to be prepared for. Being there, done that.
The budgeting bubbles strategy is confusing at first; you really need to change your mindset when it comes to the traditional savings account where everything goes into the same bucket. Budgeting is not easy. However, it really helped us to better allocate our money and manage our expenses, so we can afford a simpler life. At the moment of this post, we have paid off two of our major debts. The third will be paid off by fall this year. After that, we will be debt free!
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