This post may contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here.Determining a budget just for a month may seem impossible. Learning how to budget once a year is much simpler. Here is why – you will anticipate every single item throughout the year. Thus, eliminating the urgency of any emergency expenses. Honestly, most emergency expenses are just expenses that we knew would happen we just didn’t want to deal with them or the cost. This is the time to anticipate yearly expenses.
The thought of budgeting once a year shouldn’t be cumbersome. Interestingly enough, it will be freeing. Once we finally got this very concept ourselves, it has changed our life, our net worth, and our happiness. (And it feels great!)
By budgeting once a year, precious time and energy will be saved. Since time was spent up front, all expenses are covered. You’ve made a plan for your money. You can stop living paycheck to paycheck. No more letting your money control you! You will control your money.
Now, let’s get into how to budget once a year…
How to Budget Once a Year
1. Create a Budget (or Cents Plan)
The very first step is to sit down and create a budget. Or what at Money Bliss we call a Cents Plan. Here is why we prefer to call it a Cents Plan – a Cents Plan puts your Money “Cents” with your Head “Sense” to come up with a Plan. Find that sweet spot “Where Cents Parallel Vision.” There is a strong reason that is the tagline for Money Bliss.
Take time to create your Cents Plan with a pencil. Make sure all expenses are covered especially irregular expenses. Not sure everything is covered, check out our shop. This will be your first draft. More than likely, expenses will be higher than income. That dreaded word – over budget. Don’t fret! Keep working through the steps.
Two-person household? It is very beneficial to work on the budget together. At this point, agreeing on the Cents Plan is not necessary – just getting all expenses on paper.
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During the next couple of days, as you are walking through life, make sure you listed all of those little items. Review your bank statements, credit card statements, and ATM receipts. How have you spent money? Where is your money going? Are you happy where money was spent?
Next, sit down during a monthly huddle. Discuss your priorities in life. Make a list. Review your cents plan (or budget). The goal is to find that sweet spot “Where Cents Parallel Vision?” Now, it is time to red-line what needs to change to align your money with your priorities. Every dollar must be allocated. Over budget? Then, figure out every possible way to cut more expenses. Under budget? Start saving for those priorities. Can’t decide on sticky money decisions? That is where slush money or pocket money is vital!!
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The final step to create a budget – hopefully, by now, you prefer the term Cents Plan, too – is to write it in pen. The numbers have been agreed upon. Now, you are controlling your money and not have your money control you. Write the Cents Plan in pen, so it can’t be changed.
2. Stay Consistent with Plan
Once you have sat down and created your Cents Plan (get your copy here), stay consistent. I know you are thinking that is easier said than done. Guaranteed, the first few months will be toughest! That is when 95% of people give up and run back to their old habits. Don’t give up on your vision and how you want to live your life.
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3. Do Not Change It Every Month
This is the downfall of so much of the personal finance advice available today. It breaks my heart that people offer poor advice. Do not change your budget every month or every couple of months. Please don’t do it. Here is why… When the Cents Plan was created, you already allocated every possible expense you may have. Thus, there is no reason to change it.
The temptation to constantly change a budget happens because staying within the said budget is too hard. It is too difficult. It is no fun.
Don’t fall into temptation. Remember #2 – stay consistent. Changing money habits takes time. It takes persistence. Patience is needed. Don’t change the Cents Plan.
Coming on Thursday: #1 Critical Reason Budgets Fail
4. Tweak Only with Big Changes
There are times when tweaks are necessary for the Cents Plan. Some examples include a pay raise, your oldest kid is starting preschool for the first time, the cost for medical insurance is rising, or a move changed all of your expenses
As a general rule of thumb, tweak your Cents Plan on with these qualifications:
- The new expense or income will be recurring.
- The new expense or income is a significant change to your Cents Plan (2% or more of your income). Rule of thumb – greater than $200.
This isn’t the place to change your Cents Plan because of overspending. That does not qualify as a big change. That is plan overspending. No sugar coating that one. Look at ways to overcome why the overspending is occurring. The easiest solution…switch to cash for that category. When the cash envelope is empty, no pulling money from other categories. Resist temptation. It is crucial to stop overspending in order to become free with money.
Once a Cents Plan is established on a yearly basis, review it once a year. See if the allocations are lining up with what is happening in life. Adjust where necessary. Very simple. This is the point where you have moved from the “budget” word to the “Cents Plan” life.
It is very doable to budget once a year. The biggest step is starting. Stop living paycheck to paycheck. Eliminate the urgency of emergency expenses that are truly expenses you didn’t want to face. The best feeling is to know you are on a path with money (even if it is difficult for the time being), so you can sleep better at night.
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Make your finances a priority. Don’t just read this and walk away. Pin it as a reminder. Email to your spouse or significant other. Post on Facebook that you are declaring a change. Stop talking about wanting to make a change and just do it.
Once we learned how to budget once in a year, it made such a huge change with how money was handled in our live. No back and forth. The Cents Plan was written in pen and both parties agreed to it. Honestly, it makes life much simpler.
Comment below on your struggles with budgeting and learning how to budget once a year will make things so much easy for you.