By Mark Helgesen
Setting your monthly budgets can be overwhelming. When planning your monthly spending plan, it's much easier to prioritize. You need to cover the necessities first and foremost, before doing anything else.
Never pay a credit card before taking care of your household first. I don't care if the collector is calling and harassing you daily. He's not that important. Do not pay any debt, until after you have taken care of the household needs first.
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
-1 Timothy 5:8 (Bible, KJV)
So what are those basic household necessities that we should take care of first?
What should we do in order to provide for our own and our own house?
We call these things the 4 walls.
*If you are a tithe payer, then your tithes to your local church should be your very first priority. The 4 walls would come after you have paid, or budgeted for, your tithing.
The 4 walls of Budgeting
Feed your family.
Set aside a sufficient amount of money in the budget for food. This should include "eating out" money. I also recommend adding anything to the grocery budget that you would by at the super market. Maybe call it your "Walmart Fund" or "Target Fund," depending on your preference.
It's always better to over budget in the food category. Be reasonable when determining the amount of money your household will spend on food and groceries. After budgeting for a few months, you will have a better understanding of how much your family actually needs for food.
If your kids are fed, that's one less thing to worry about.
Pay your house payment or rent and keep the lights on.
The shelter budget category should include everything needed to keep you and your family safe and warm inside your home-- mortgage or rent, utilities, etc,.
Again, never pay a credit card bill instead of your house payment. You can afford to have a little ding on your credit. You cannot afford to lose your house or have the heat or power disconnected.
Keeping the lights on and paying your house payment should give you one less thing to worry about.
So far, the family is fed and the lights are on. This is good.
You need to keep the car moving so you can get to work and make some money.
Car payments, gasoline expenses, car insurance, and basic repairs and maintenance needed to keep the car running fall under this category.
When budgeting for fuel expenses, again be reasonable. It's better to over budget for fuel than under budget and not be able to fill your tank with gas. After you do the budget for several months this category will become easier to project.
Don't pay another debt instead of your car loan. You can't afford to have your car repoed.
Food is on the table, a roof is over your head, and gasoline is in the car. You're okay.
This category works a little differently, especially if you have kids. If you're just a single guy or girl and you don't have a bunch of money, you probably don't need a bunch of new clothes.
If you have young children, then you know they grow out of their clothes monthly. Or if you have kids in school then they will probably need new clothes and new shoes before school starts. Plan for this in your budget.
Project how much money you think your family will need for clothes for the entire year, divide that number by 12 and set aside that amount of money each month for clothing. That way you will have the money needed when the kid grows overnight or school unexpectedly starts tomorrow.
Be frugal with your clothing purchases if your budget is tight, or just be frugal always. There are lots of ways to save money when buying clothes and shoes. Don't be afraid to hit up the thrift stores, garage sales, or get hand-me-downs from your relatives, friends, and neighbors. Hey, my mom made my shorts when I was a kid. I survived.
Kids are always out growing their clothes. Somebody somewhere is throwing out some good stuff.
The family is fed, the lights are on, gasoline is in the car, and the kids aren't naked. You've covered the 4 walls.
Taking care of these things first will help simplify the budget and ease the stress and worry of your household finances. The rest is basically a game. If you can't pay your credit card bill or the annoying bill collector that calls and harasses you daily, don't sweat it. You will get to it.
Take care of your own first. Secure your household and family before anything else and then take care of the other things.