Monday, September 10, 2018

The Most Broccoli Prep Of All: Budgeting

This is not my most thrilling article.

In fact, my editrix Erin calls these “broccoli articles”: not very exciting, but fairly important all the same. You have to eat your veggies so that you can eat your dessert, after all. But I hope that I can at least smother the broccoli in cheese, at the very least.

This post is about foundational preps. You might actually call it prepping for preps. This post is, in fact, about having a budget.

Lets say that you want a new gun, like a limited edition Barrett M107A1. You feel that this will make a valuable addition to your preps, and that it will be well worth the several $14,000  that you spend on it. Unfortunately, it will be some time until you actually have the money. You will have to budget in order to save for it.

I have made a spreadsheet for your convenience. Very few people in this world enjoy budgeting, and this should make the process less painful. You should be able to download it and just plug in your numbers. When you are finished, the spreadsheet should help you visualize how long it will take to reach your savings goal, and how much effort you will have to put in to get there.

The spreadsheet is in ODF format, and should work just fine with most versions of Microsoft Excel and Open Office.
  1. When you open the spreadsheet, enter your income and it will auto-calculate tax. (This is designed for use in the USA, and even with that you will have to look up your state income tax. That said, it should be a good estimate for federal income taxes and withholding).
  2. Set your savings goal. In the case of the rifle, it should be several thousand dollars. It's helpful if you can download a picture of your goal and keep it in front of you; it's easier to keep the discipline to save if you can visualize it. 
  3. Set the amount that your goal costs, and the amount you have already (if anything).
  4. Input the numbers into the budget categories: food, shelter, transport etc. It will automatically tell you if you have any left over, and if you are going over budget. If you need additional budget categories, there are several sections left for you to use.
  5. When you get to the section of the budget that covers your savings goal, you can see how many weeks you have at your saving rate until you get to your goal. I have set it up so that it displays the time to save to your goal in weeks, biweekly periods (since many people get paid in two week periods) and months. You can add or subtract from other sections of budget until you are satisfied, and you will be able to see how much difference saving from each paycheck can make -- a few dollars a month can make a big difference!
  6. Sooner than you may realize, you will have reached your savings goal -- a new rifle, a new tent, or even just being out of debt (the most boring financial prep of all).

So go ahead and eat your broccoli, and don’t forget to practice.

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