• Laurie Blake


Updated: Jun 22, 2020

The dance party is over

Budgeting isn't a lot of fun, mainly because it forces us to look at that big elephant dancing circles around us. Most of us would like to pretend that elephant isn't there.

I know that working through personal finances is hard, can be overwhelming, and many times depressing. I've been there without two pennies to rub together, not sure how I'm going to pay my bills or feed my family.

Looking away doesn't make the elephant stop dancing.

I want to help you end the dance party by showing you.

  • What I've learned about budgeting,

  • Help you find areas where you can save money and,

  • How to reduce your debt.

Let's do it together one step at a time.

Please understand that I'm starting this blog ahead of schedule to help you. I will need to post blogs as I put the information together. Please, please subscribe so we can work through this together. I do want to help you.

The steps we are going to work through together today are:

Understanding what a personal budget is.

  1. Gathering your income, expense, and debt information and adding it to the budget spreadsheet I've included in this blog.

  2. Some things to think about before the next post – the big jobs - how can I save big money now?

  3. Understanding what a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goal is so you can start thinking about them, providing you with a sense of direction, motivation, and a clear focus before the next blog post.

Understanding What a Personal Budget is

Let's Make Your Budget

Budgeting is balancing your expenses with your income. In the current economic turmoil, nobody knows what the future is going to hold for them.

  • Maybe you've already lost some or all of your sources of income.

  • You are waiting to receive any form of financial assistance you have access to.

  • If you haven't lost income, you are one of the lucky ones. I would suggest getting a grip on your finances now.

If you don't balance what you have coming in with what goes out, you will have a problem. We will all feel the impact of this crazy time. Let's try to reduce that impact. Many people have no idea where their money goes or how far in debt they are.

Balance Your Budget

Budgeting is balancing your expenses and debt with your income. If the budget doesn't balance, let's make it balance the best we can. We will take an in-depth look at your ability to increase what comes in and reduce what goes out by recording what is currently happening in the budget spreadsheet and making a plan.

Develop Your Personal Budget & The Budget Spreadsheet

Let's work through this process together. Grab hold of all the information you have at home now.

Information to put in your budget

  • Pay stubs

  • Account statements

  • Credit card bills

  • Utility bills

  • Any receipts or statements lying around to help complete the spreadsheet-like grocery bills.

We want all of these guys

You probably weren’t planning on playing this game so do the best you can with the information you can find. Starting today keep receipts for everything. When we work this spreadsheet the next time you will have better information to complete your budget and develop a plan.

Keeping receipts until you get a grip on your finances will feel like a kick in the pants when you realize the money drain. The little things that you don’t think of chew a hole right through your wallet.

Your daily $3.50 coffee and muffin pulls $1,277.50 out of your bank account in a year.

As you start keeping of your receipts, start thinking of what you are buying as needs and wants. Needs and wants are two very different things.

Another thing I like to do before spending money on something is to think of it in terms of how many hours I need to work to buy the item.

That mediocre meal at the restaurant wasn't worth me spending the whole day at work.

Some notes about the budget spreadsheet.

  • If I've missed something or you have questions, please let me know in the comments so I can revise the budget spreadsheet and answer a question that if you have others will too.

  • I have input formulas for sub-totals and totals.

  • If you hover over the cells with red in the corners, you will see notes I put in there to help you out.

  • There will be items that only a few people have. You can just change an item in the spreadsheet to suit your situation.

  • The justification calculator will give you an idea of the costs of making a purchase. You can then compare the cost to the price to buy the item from a business.

How to Save Money

It all adds up

Now that we have those numbers making a bit more sense, let's see if you can save some money right now by:

  1. being aware of spending habits and

  2. looking into some big-ticket items.

Keep "needs" and "wants" in mind for this part.

Impulse spending is huge

  • Don't use credit if you can avoid it. It will just put you further in debt. Take cash out for the ongoing monthly expenses in your budget. Put the cash in an envelope. Mark it as groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. When the envelope is empty, the money is gone.

  • As an example, if you are going to Superstore and want to get the 25,000 points for the $250 spend. Bring $275 cash with you to the store.

  1. When you are going through the store, run a tally in your head or use the calculator on your phone.

  2. Put your "want" items at the end of the conveyor belt. When you hit that $250, that's it. Everything else stays in the store. If you feel a little embarrassed, don't worry about it. Tell them you were trying to hit the coupon and must have lost track. Nobody cares, and life goes on.

  3. If you are under the $250, have a couple of items in your head that won't spoil, and you know the approximate cost of that you can have the cashier run through. Grab the items once you pay. You won't even hold up the line, and you still get the offer.

  4. Don't let them run the items through on a second receipt, thinking you can combine it later on their website. They won't do it. They also won't add it to your card later if you didn't bring the card number to the store. I learned this the hard way and lost $80 worth of points. I now have all my card details on my phone using an app called CardStore.

  5. Just on the food topic, not the shopping topic, now more then ever is not the time to waste food. Use what you buy and eat what you make.

  • If you think you need something that isn't in your monthly budget, set yourself a cool-off period to think about it. Endorphins are released when we make a purchase. They don't last long, don't put yourself further in debt. You might be just looking for a little hit.

The endorphin hit doesn't last

Buying for Appearance

Don't try to keep up with the Jones's. People tend to spend whatever they earn, and more. You aren't going to get out of debt doing what others do. Do what you need to do to stay afloat and get ahead.

Big Ticket Items

  • Is your property assessment correct? Can you ask for a reassessment?

  • Second vehicle or one vehicle you can't afford?

  1. The first step we made was about two years ago we sold a vehicle we paid $19,000 for years earlier for $14,000. I bought a vehicle for $7,000 and paid down a line of credit with the rest.

  2. We got rid of our "new" second vehicle last summer and used the savings to pay down that same line of credit further.

  3. Even when we had the second vehicle, I used to commute to work on my bike when I was able to.

  4. Our only vehicle with doors now is a truck that we "need" to finish our house renovations and to pull our RV. We make a point of running multiple errands at the same time to save on fuel. We also bought a motorbike (for fun) and so we wouldn't be limited to a big truck as a daily driver.

  5. We've never bought a new vehicle. David is a YouTube master researcher. Thank you, YouTube contributors who have saved us thousands.

  • That Nasty Debt

High Interest Credit Card
  1. 1. Pay off your highest interest rate debt first. It costs you the most money.

  2. We use a low-interest line of credit to pay off any higher rate interest products.

  3. 2. We also take advantage of credit card low-interest deals. This can be dangerous if you increase your total debt instead of using the saved interest to pay down debt further. Be careful with this one.

  • I just called my phone and internet provider and asked if they could lower my fees for a bit, and they did. Try it out.

  • We had a discussion two weeks ago and decided that for the time being, we need to run our house in recession mode. Those fun little habits that cost more than your food in a month. That's what I'm talking about. That's an issue in the now worse than ever economic situation. They're gone in our house.

  1. We don't smoke or do recreational drugs, so no savings there for us.

  2. Before the discussion, we started buying the less expensive beer and wine. We do enjoy a drink or two or maybe three. We made one final trip to the liquor store for the good stuff, drank what we bought, and are now going dry. We needed to deal with getting over our habit and the sugar cravings, and that's okay. One more point is alcohol is a depressant, and that's the last thing I need right now.

Setting Smart Financial Goals

Due to the current economic situation, I'm going to take the liberty of setting some smart goals for you. Revise the goals as they fit into your situation.

Clearly understand what my monthly income and expenses are within 60 days.

1. What can I do today to achieve this goal?

a. Read through this blog post and answer the questions honestly.

b. Gather up all the financial information I can find and complete the budget spreadsheet to the best of my ability.

c. Subscribe to the blog, so I can work through the cost-saving steps with Laurie.

2. What can I do this week to achieve this goal?

a. Figure out the want items I spend money on and decide how I can scale them down or stop spending money on them.

b. Collect all receipts and track every penny I spend. This gets easier and is building good financial habits and a mindset.

c. Contact my service providers to see if I can get reduced rates, suspend or cancel services.

3. What can I do this month to achieve this goal?

a. Revise my budget with the new actual income and spend.

b. Examine where I spent over budget and determine why.

i. If you missed something, put it into the next month/year's budget.

ii. Did I impulse buy?

iii. Did I buy something to make myself feel better temporarily?

c. Examine my spending to cut down on want expenditures

d. Set lower spending amounts where possible into next month's budget. This gets easier every month until you reach a point that you can maintain and get ahead.

e. Put all leftover money towards paying off the debt with the highest interest rate.

4. What can I do next month to achieve this goal?

a. The same as I did last month with a clear, non-blaming, and honest approach.

In my next posts, we will work trough the Budget Spreadsheet together. The first section being income. Let us look deeper into what you have available to you in the forms of income, Increasing types of income, and finding new sources of income.

Subscribe to my blog, and I will email the Budget Spreadsheet with the welcome email and send you a note when I publish the follow-up posts.

Until next time take care and live well.

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