Create a Financial Budget

Note: This page has been created to correspond with the book, Reclaim Your Creative Soul: The secrets to organizing your full-time life to make room for your craft. If you came here without reading the book first, I encourage you to download it today. It is not only an inspiring read for creating order in all areas of your life, it would also support me as an author. Find out more information at crissilangwell.com/creative-soul.

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In the book, Reclaim Your Creative Soul: The secrets to organizing your full-time life to make room for your craft, I lay out how to get a handle on your finances so that money doesn’t stand in the way of your creativity.

The most important thing you can do to ensure financial freedom is to create a monthly budget. I have created a spreadsheet that incorporates many of the expenses you might use in a month. This is the spreadsheet I use each month to allocate where my money goes, and to ensure I have enough money for all my expenses.

PDF: Sample budget

In the above spreadsheet, you’ll notice I’ve included a sample budget for someone who brings home $1200 every two weeks, rents an apartment for $700, and has a student loan payment of $120 per month. This is just an example, so don’t shoot me if your payments are much different!

In my example, all of the monthly payments for my example individual (let’s call him Xamp) have been cut in half, as he is saving for the entire bill with each paycheck. So his $700 rent become $350 per paycheck, etc.

Xamp also has two credit cards he is paying off. He is paying higher payments on the credit card with the lower balance, and just the minimum payment on the card with the higher balance. Once the lower-balanced card is paid off, he will then tackle the higher-balanced card more aggressively.

Next to the credit card payments (and other debts, as well), are the total amount that Xamp owes. These numbers will, of course, fluctuate as interest fees are added. However, we’re just going to ignore those for the sake of our sample. When you start keeping track of your own budget, make sure you add in what your real balance is so that you have an accurate view of how much money you owe altogether.

In extra expenses, you’ll notice that Xamp’s more frivolous categories are rather low. This is on purpose, as Xamp is trying to reduce his debt. Once his debt has been erased, he can add more funds to his clothing, dining, and entertainment funds.

You’ll also notice that Xamp has a rather high savings and donation fund—a whopping 10% of his income! This is merely a suggestion, and not a rule. However, here’s my argument for both.

Savings: You never know. That’s my biggest argument. You never know what’s going to happen, and it’s best to have a backup plan. Along with that, you should be setting aside for your own retirement, large expenses, your child’s college, etc. 10% per paycheck is ensuring you don’t have to reach for your credit card ever again, and you will always be prepared.

Donation: Here’s my spiel on donating to causes—you will always be the one who reaps the most benefit. First off, so many people, agencies, and other causes need the generosity of others to survive. You likely have a surplus of money you don’t need to survive. It may not feel like it, but I’m sure there’s an area you could spend less on to help others who are in need.

And it just feels good to give. Think about how warm you feel inside when you are able to help someone else who can’t possibly pay you back.

Third, there’s the Karma effect. Or the blessed effect. Or the get-back-what-you-give effect.

I don’t know how to explain this, but every time I am generous with my money, I am blessed with money in return. If I give more than what’s comfortable, money somehow finds its way back in my pocket. I’ll write a large check and give it to my church. The next day, I’ll have a new client willing to pay a large sum of money for my editing services. I’ll donate to an organization, and my book sales will suddenly increase. Without fail, when I give, I get back.

I can’t guarantee you will receive money back for money you give. And giving with the expectations of receiving kind of misses the point. However, my experience has always shown that I am blessed whenever I bless others.

Finally, I want to share about how to divvy up this money so that you don’t accidentally spend it on something else. Some people choose an envelope system, where they withdraw the money and put it in an envelope until the bill is due. Others keep track of it with a balanced checkbook (and every checkbook should be balanced!)

Me, I use a digital checkbook register on my phone. I post-date a certain expense, and keep adding money to it. I also know how much money is in my bank account at all times. I am very meticulous with this since I don’t like having money on hand (I spend what’s in my pocket).

At all times, I know exactly how much money I have in my bank. But more than that, I know exactly how much money is really there, even when the charge hasn’t posted yet. This is because I keep a tight rein on my checkbook register, always entering whatever I spend as soon as I spend it. The reason I do this is because it’s MY money. I should be the one to handle it. If I don’t care enough to be in charge of my money, why should I be trusted with more? So I am very responsible with it.

But more than the charges I’ve made, I keep track of the charges I will make, and the categories I’m saving for. I create items for things like vacations, school trips, car maintenance, taxes, etc. Anything I need to save money for has a place in my digital register.

I encourage you to find a way to keep track of your money. My system may work for you, or you may find a different system. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you become the boss of your money, tell it where to go, and don’t let it control you.

Now it’s time for you to create your own budget using the sample budget I posted above. Utilize the steps I laid out in Chapter 7 of Reclaim Your Creative Soul, and then delete all the sample text I have in there (be sure to also amend the totals I placed by certain expenses!).

Here’s the budget again:

PDF: Sample budget

If you have any questions on keeping a budget, or any other money questions, please leave a comment below. If I can’t answer your question, I will at least try to direct you where you can find an answer.

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