#JAKWellness12 Week 8: Budgeting Money

Happy Monday friends. Hopefully most of you in the states have today off. We just got back from Florida last night so I am playing MAJOR catch up today (nothing like coming home to hundreds of unread emails after only 3 days away). Anyhoo, I am really excited about today’s #JAKWellness12 check-in and challenge because it’s something I have quite frankly neglected to do. Today we are talking all about budgeting money. I’ve never really been great at budgeting money (except when we were saving to buy our house…need to get back on that bandwagon again). I sort of just live off of what I have, which at several points over the last 10 years has been almost nothing. That said, I want to get better about a) saving and b) not spending on unnecessary things. Now that we own a house it’s crucial for us to have an emergency fund (really everyone should have one regardless of your situation). But doing that can be challenging, and if you are living paycheck to paycheck can seem impossible. It’s not, they key is to be honest with yourself about your situation, and your spending. Last week we got some great advice from my financial advisor Kevin, about investing money and the benefits of  paying off debt vs saving vs investing. This week I want to focus on creating a budget, sticking to it and creating an emergency savings fund.

Curious to hear how you did after reading last week’s post and if any of you either started investing, prepared to invest or increased your contributions?

This Week’s Challenge: Create a Budget, Make a Savings Goal

I know some of you have already created a budget for the year and if so, bravo. For those of you that have not, the challenge for this week is to create a budget for you (your household). When I say create a budget, I’m talking about pulling all of your expenses together in one place but also coming up with a daily, weekly or monthly spending number to stick to. And once you’ve done that, coming up with a savings goal. Most advice calls for you to have at least 3x your monthly expenses in savings. Yeah I don’t have that right now, so don’t feel bad if you don’t either. But I am creating very aggressive savings goals to get me to that number.

Jess Ann Kirby gets to work in a camel wool blazer and skinny jeans with a statement scarf from Ann Taylor
Helpful Tips

-If you have not already, create a spreadsheet to put ALL of your expenses into. This spreadsheet from Remi is helpful to get you started. Once you have all of your expenses together, look for ways to cut some spending (eating out, subscription services, impulse spending-guilty as charged).

-If spreadsheets aren’t your cup of tea, try an app or budgeting software. I am doing a 30-day trial of YNAB. I actually really like that it’s a desktop software (vs on your phone). They have great reviews and if you decide to purchase it’s only $6.99 a month. Other options include Mint and Daily Budget.

-Start saving. The easiest way is to create (if your bank does this) an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account every month. To make it easier, create the transfer on payday so you are forced to live off whatever is left in your account.

-Another good option is to open a CD (certificate of deposit). This is a great way to save (and earn interest on your money) if you don’t need access to those funds for a certain period of time. This article spells it out really well and provides some really good suggestions for the best CDs available. I’m opening one with Ally (their rates are very competitive).

Good luck! Can’t wait to hear about your progress from last week. xx

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  1. KAM wrote:

    I enjoyed last weeks challenge. Especially with all the recent market fluctuations, it’s an important topic to address. I recently relocated, so I reached out to a local branch to be assigned a new FA. After doing so, I reviewed my trading account and placed “sells” on a few stocks. I also set up a meeting in person this week to further determine if this is the right “FA” for me and to also discuss retirement savings.

    2.19.18 | Reply
  2. Laurie wrote:

    I signed up for a retirement account last week through my employer, and they will be matching my contributions! Winning! I do already have a budget, but I will be looking it over again to make sure I’m on track to meet my goal of having enough money to buy a car this fall. The car I’ve had for the past 10+ years is on it’s last legs… (So long college car memories.) Thank you for these weekly checkins/reminders! So helpful to stay on top of it all.

    2.19.18 | Reply
  3. Shannon wrote:

    Thank you for this post- I needed to be motivated to save and get my act together! Being a new homeowner as well, I really need to get an emergency fund going for the inevitable issues that will come up with our older home.

    2.19.18 | Reply
  4. Bethany wrote:

    I’ve been signing up for any retirement plans offered by all of my past employers, so thank goodness I’ve been doing that already. I just started at a new company and have opened a retirement plan with company matches. I’ve always believed it’s best to give 100% of what you need to do for company matches – you won’t even realize the money isn’t available! I started a 52 week savings plan deal a few weeks ago and found a bank with 1.49% interest account online so I’ve been depositing a few dollars every Monday (just did another one today) and it’s amazing how much you don’t realize it’s missing. It’s my second “emergency fund” account because I use my other one to save tax refunds and extra money (like bonuses, etc.). But budgets are HARD for me, so this is a good incentive to stay on top of it!

    2.19.18 | Reply
  5. Kayla LaMuth wrote:

    This is so great! I for the most part have always been good about immediately putting a large chunk of my paycheck into my saving account the day I get paid.
    I am happy to say this week I paid off all of my credit card debt! WOOT WOOT! Such a good feeling.
    I have two payments left on my car and once I have that paid off I am going to increase the payments on my student loans. My goal is by the age of 32 to have zero debt!
    Another big challenge for me is to do an entire month of not buying anything other than absolute necessities. No impulse buys! I’m also going to food prep and real try to create a budget for grocery shopping as well
    Good luck to everyone!
    xo Kayla

    2.19.18 | Reply
  6. Erin Tenneson wrote:

    I upped my contribution to my 401k last week! Thanks for the reminder. Always forget to do that each year. I also have been working on saving more. Excited to start budgeting this week! This is something that I have always wanted to do, but I have just been lazy and/or want to stay in denial about how much I am spending ha. Have to start sometime though, so might as well be today, right?!

    2.19.18 | Reply
  7. I definitely need to get better about having a budget and sticking to it! My problem has always been that I have enough in my account (worked my tail off in high school and then saved most of it!) that I don’t really need to worry so then I just don’t take the step to budget :/ We’ve always had an emergency fund set up and since we both work and have no kids and no debt (praise Jesus for scholarships), we’ve never been in the position where we *had* to stick to a strict budget and I just know that’s gonna bite us in the ass, especially once kids enter the picture. This post is a great reminder that I need to take control of that and start some better habits, so thanks!

    2.19.18 | Reply
  8. Amanda G wrote:

    This week I finished my taxes and actually owe less than I thought (win!). I have decided to deposit half the remaining money I saved for taxes into my retirement account and the other half into my business savings account.

    I make a budget every year and try to review my spending every couple of weeks. I have trouble sticking to my budget and need to keep myself more accountable.

    2.19.18 | Reply
  9. Katie Gill wrote:

    Last weeks challenge really made me feel so good about recently opening a Roth IRA and doing my best to max it out by the end of the year with monthly contributions. I have been keeping up to date with my spreadsheets for keeping track of my spending, adding it all up usually towards the end of the week. in a nerdy way – I kind of like doing it now. Minus the cringing from tallying up my Whole Foods visits – ugh. So it seems like the next natural progression is to start setting up budget… I also have never been great with keeping them long term, but I think setting goals/targets is a great starting point. I contribute to savings each week, but have recently decided to set up to sub-savings accounts (one thing I love about Capital One) one for gifts and unexpected expenses – that don’t always fit in a budget. My goal is to work my way up to $500 in each of those accounts, so I don’t feel so thrown when I have a random car appointment or hair apt. I started this with a vacation account a few years ago and it was life changing, it’s so cool to see how all of sudden there really is some money in an account you have only added $50 to each check.


    2.19.18 | Reply
  10. Sam wrote:

    Now that I’m gettingto the point in my life where I’d really like to buy a house budgeting is something I am very familiar with. I write down all of my standard monthly expenses then from there I figure any “extra” purchases I’ll be making that month. Although I do try to be strict with my budget (make my own coffee, limit my eating out, etc.) I do fully believe that sometimes you need to “treat yo self” in the words of Donna and Tom from Parks and Rec.

    2.19.18 | Reply
  11. katy wrote:

    created a budget to start the year off and now I just have to work to keep it updated when actual expenses hit – somehow that ends up being the hardest part…

    2.19.18 | Reply
  12. Beeta wrote:


    I’m loving this month’s challenge. I’m satisfied with my current investment/401(k) options, but this was a great reminder to stay on top of changes.

    I currently have a budget created, but it’s on my “notes” on my iPhone and it’s a bit outdated. I’m excited to update my process and utilize the spreadsheet you’ve shared this week.

    Thank you!!!

    2.19.18 | Reply
  13. mackey wrote:

    I made a budget, a giant spreadsheet to help me figure out how much I spend and where I can cut costs. My boyfriend and I are talking about moving into together. Do you have any tips about spending, and keeping things balanced when living with a boyfriend? How do you split rent? Food?

    Thanks for taking on this challenge.

    2.19.18 | Reply
  14. Nancy wrote:

    Budgets are something I am terrible at, so this is a good kick to get myself in gear. Made some investment decisions last week that I feel really good about, so that was great! I’ll see how I do with this challenge. I’m hoping to cut out spending on eating out, so guilty of that weekly!

    2.20.18 | Reply
  15. Maria wrote:

    I am in between jobs right now which makes it really hard to save BUT I have been saving into a portfolio since I was 22 and using an Excel spreadsheet for the last 2 years to help me cut my spending. Even with doing the Excel, I still see my same binge shopping habits ? but I have REALLY cut down on going out and eating out which has helped! This post is perfect timing because I talked about intense budgeting and saving with a girlfriend this weekend so I have even more motivation now!!!

    2.20.18 | Reply
  16. Kate wrote:

    Saving is the freaking hardest. My husband and I just bought our first home (which needs a total rehab) and we are both back in school. So fun. Definitely need to sit down this week and create a spreadsheet. This post was the perfect bit of inspiration for me to continue filling out my FASFA. Ha!

    2.20.18 | Reply
  17. Christina wrote:

    First off, SO appreciate your note about the three months worth of salary in your savings – I feel like we see that everywhere, but no one really acknowledges that it can be tough to do that!

    I think the most helpful thing with keeping the spreadsheet so far is knowing what I actually have to work with budget-wise. It’s one thing to subtract what you have to spend on bills, etc., but it’s another to see that you spend X amount weekly on random things like household items, so your “leftover” sum of money is kind of different than you thought. Money is always stressful, but thinking about it so pragmatically makes me feel slightly more empowered.

    2.20.18 | Reply
  18. Lauren Rhea wrote:

    Thanks for all the helpful tips! This was a discussion my fiancé and I had this weekend as well. The whole process can be overwhelming but made easier by setting things up in advance! I find that having it out of my bank account and automatically transferred into savings, makes me not miss the money in my checking at all!

    2.20.18 | Reply
  19. Erin wrote:

    OK I personally love reading about personal finance so this has been my favorite wellness topic! I recently got a raise and increased my contributions to retirement and savings, so I’m feeling pretty good about that. I always have that nagging fear that some giant medical/car/miscellaneous emergency is going to pop up so that always motivates me to save!
    On a super random note, I recently discovered Refinery29’s Money Diaries which follows women’s spending over the course of a week. It seems boring but I find it so interesting! http://www.refinery29.com/money-diary

    2.20.18 | Reply
  20. Holly wrote:

    I’ve made the steps to ask about 401k options at work! Now I need to follow through and see what I can do with them. This is scary stuff, but you’re helping to make it easier and thank you for that!!

    2.20.18 | Reply
  21. Kat wrote:

    I am really enjoying your Wellness series. I think it is so important to be aware of your own finances and budgeting absolutely helps to set financial goals for the future. My husband and I revised our budget recently and have made a plan to check in every 3 months or so to make sure that we are still on target for our mutual goals. Separately, we budget our personal money and it has been really eye-opening to see where the daily $ goes.

    2.20.18 | Reply
  22. Lacey wrote:

    Last week’s challenge was on my to-do list for months, so thanks for the motivation! I looked into refinancing my student loans (?), and I’m hoping to find a fixed interest rate loan. It’s all up in the air right now because this spring I’m going to sell an apartment in Sweden and buy a house here, so I’m very concerned about making sure my credit score doesn’t take any dings from hard inquiries. I’d love a post about credit scores, how they change, and how they affect interest rates, mortgages and other loans, credit card offers and maximums, job applications, and everything else!

    2.20.18 | Reply
  23. I’m loving all the open and honest talk about money. It’s so good. It always feels like there’s such a stigma about talking about money.

    2.20.18 | Reply
  24. I love all the open and honest dialogue about money. I’ve opened two IRAs and am feeling much better knowing that my money isn’t just sitting in my savings account making zero interest. Thanks for being willing to talk about money in such a public forum

    2.20.18 | Reply
  25. Bitsy wrote:

    I forgot to do last weeks challenge :/

    Honestly, all this money talk turns me off. I have a nice honey pot but not because I actively save. I have been contemplating setting up a savings account so will definitely look at what my bank offers. Ease is a big deal to me!

    Side note: Would love to hear about how you guys saved for a house!

    2.20.18 | Reply
  26. Melissa wrote:

    I’m using the daily budget app and I’m hoping that will help me to create the list of all of my expenses. Obviously I know how much I spend on mortgage/car/utilities every month since those are consistent expenses, but I want to see how much I spend on groceries and everything else to see where I can trim/do better. I have an idea, but I think it will help a ton to see where my money actually goes!

    I have been consistently saving every month for a long time and have the auto transfer set up with my accounts, so I feel good about that.

    I need to consolidate my various retirement accounts from different jobs. That’s been a big one on my list for some time. They’re all still earning for me, but I know there’s a better way to do it.

    2.21.18 | Reply
  27. Sarah wrote:

    This has been something that I have just been putting off for soooo long it’s not even funny. I sometimes tell myself I have a budget, but that’s not true. This challenge could not have come at a more perfect time. I am actually going to make myself sit down and create a REALISTIC budget and really force myself to stick to it. My goal is to go a month with keeping with my budget and hoping that after those first 30 days, it starts to become second nature.

    2.21.18 | Reply
  28. Lynn wrote:

    I loved this outfit so much and the scarf, bit they were out of the pink and gray and I ordered the gray and white and suddenly the pink and gray restocked so now I’ll gave to choose one. We were trying to take a quick getaway to a different climate than South Florida and were making reservations to Newport RI on Sunday when we heard the extended forecast of the storm. We quickly changed our destination to Amelia Idlsnd outside of Jacksonville which is s quaint old town much like Savannah, GA. Because of the terrible storm ravishing your Voastline it will be very cool there in the lie 60’s and 50’s at night and I can bring my sweaters and down jacket. I hate to sound so frivolous because I’m from NE and I’m so worried about all my friends safety and property damage to the beautiful coastline . It’s been a year when I lost others, cared for others and did nothing for myself so your newest blog from Colorado really impacted me. I still have trouble finding me , but it helped me so much to think of balance and reclaiming the me I have lost along the way. Hope everyone in the path of the storm is okay .

    3.2.18 | Reply

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