Over at Wise Bread they have an interview with Mary Webber, a Frugal Family Thrift Counselor. Yes, that’s apparently a real job.
Anyway, they asked her for some advice for people who have never ever made a budget. How do you get started?
Buy a school composition book, the kind with the black-and-white cover and lined pages inside. Then whenever a bill comes in, put it inside the book. Use one page for each month and list each bill, its due date and the amount – XYZ Company, the 17th, $23.89. When you pay each bill, check it off in the far right column with the date paid. This is totally NOT complicated, NOT time-consuming. It’s amazing to me how many people just toss their bills in a drawer, pay them haphazardly and have no idea at any given time what they have and what they owe. Plus, the add-on fees for missing the due date on payments can get very expensive. This is absolutely the simplest way to ease into the budgeting, the next step being to actually plan ahead for bills you now can anticipate being due on certain dates each month, and eventually at different times of the year.
We like this tip because it’s simple and it’s something physical you can do right now, today, to start getting your finances more organized. It’s also something you can do if you’re starting out on your own and are just getting used to paying bills. College students getting their first apartments, for example, should do something like this.
I Free Advice from a Frugal Family Thrift Counselor [Wise Bread]