My most highly requested blog post EVER. Here you go, people.

How to Start Budgeting for Beginners// Hey, Annie Demm

1// Write down your expected income for the month

Write down all of your expected income for this month. The key is to get this as H I G H as you possibly can. Working overtime, attending paid training, selling things on eBay or Facebook marketplace, or picking up a second or third job can all make this happen. The higher this number is, the faster you will be able to pay off debt/save.

2// Write down all your ESSENTIAL bills

Write down the expenses that are essential. Rent/mortgage, electric, water, phone bill, insuranc ARE essential to live. Cable, internet, Spotify, etc. ARE NOT ESSENTIAL. If you do not need it to survive, it does not go here.


3// Write down all your ESSENTIAL spending

Write down everything you need to survive that is not a bill but is something like groceries and gas. Clothing, haircuts, date night, coffee money DO NOT GO HERE. If you do not need it to survive, it does not go here.

4// Assess your ESSENTIAL expenses

Look at what you are spending on absolute essentials to survive. You HAVE to make these payments each month or you won’t have a place to live or food to eat. These are your essentials. You cannot worry about paying off debt until you make sure you and your family are taken care of. YES, these come before your debt payments or anything else. And yes, they all must be paid for in cash (or on a debit card). They may NOT be paid on a credit card!

5// Write down all your NON-ESSENTIAL bills

For us, this includes everything from our Spotify subscription to our student loan payments to our internet bill. These are things you can CONTROL. You want to get this number as low as possible. What can you cut out? Can you cancel your cable subscription? Gym membership? What needs to go to get this number as low as possible.

6// Write down all your NON-ESSENTIAL spending

This is the real “budgeting” part. You are 100% in control here and you decide how much or how little you spend. You decide what you are going to be spending on. This is the secret sauce, people! So listen up.
This is where we have things such as eating out, date night, clothing, household, gifts, classroom supplies, coffee money, pedicure money….literally anything that isn’t going to kill you if you took it away. You decide how much you spend per month on this stuff. Try to get this number as L O W as possible. What can you cut out? What can you cut back on?

I once went two years without a manicure. I shopped at Walmart for clothes. Our eating out included Chick-Fil-A once a month. We only did date nights that were free. I only went to Starbucks if I had a gift card. Was it the most fun in the world? Definitely not. Did it help us become credit card debt-free and pay off a huge student loan? YES.

7// Add up all your essential AND non-essential bills and spending.

Add up all the money you are expecting to spend in any way this month.

8// Income - expected spending = $$$$$

Subtract your expected spending from your expected income. What are you left with? Whatever number you have, THROW THIS MONEY ONTO YOUR DEBT (or into your savings, depending on your goal!) This is how we paid off so much debt so quickly. It really works. Get your income HIGH and your spending LOW. Use the extra money to throw it in mass chunks towards your goals. (I usually take a small portion of the leftover money to add to our savings, while throwing the rest at debt. You cannot focus on saving a ton of money and paying off a ton of debt at the same time. You have to pick one. So we put a little in our savings and throw the rest at student loan debt)

Here’s a BUDGET PRINTABLE FOR FREE that is hopefully super helpful! Let me know your feedback!

How to Create Financial Goals //

The very first thing you need to do before you even think about creating a budget is to figure out your WHY. Why do you care so much about getting a budget? What do you hope to achieve? Sounds really cliche but I promise you that it is WORTH IT to take the time to sit down and figure these things out.

Why You Need to Create Financial Goals (and How) // Hey Annie Demm

Finding Your Financial “WHY”

First thing I want you to do is think short-term. What financial goal would you like to reach within the next year? Make it something that is realistic and achievable. If you are in six-figures of debt, aiming to be “debt-free” in a year probably isn’t going to be realistic (but hey, maybe it is!). Here are some examples:

  • “I’d like to pay off my $3,000 credit card balance”

  • “I’d like to pay off my smallest student loan”

  • “I’d like to have $5,000 in savings”

  • “I’d like to take my spouse on a weekend getaway

When I started my journey back in March 2017, my short-term goal was to get $1,000 in savings. It was realistic, straight-forward and an actionable baby step.
My current short-term goal is to pay off my smallest student loan, which is currently around $900.

Using a Five Year Plan

Okay, now that we’ve dipped our toes into financial goal setting, now I want you to think five year. Who do you want to be in 5 years? What kind of life do you hope to lead? Where would you like to be financially? My five year financial goals are:

  • Be completely debt-free by 30 years old

  • Have our house fully renovated

  • Have traveled internationally extensively

  • Be working a job that I love and is more flexible than teaching

  • Be able to give and surprise others generously

Think of being debt-free. Think of owning a home. Think of owning your car. Think of paying in cash for vacations. Think of making six-figures. Think of giving generously. Think of where you could be in just 5 years time. Now, you have a job. GO WRITE THIS DOWN. I revisit my financial goals- including my five year plan- every moth when I do my budget. It reminds me of why I’m cutting back in certain areas or why I’m throwing so much money at debt instead of eating out.

Find Your Big Goal

Okay, one last thing. Use your short-term goal and your five year plan to find your THING. By now, you should have a pretty sturdy idea of what you need to do in order to get to where you want to be in five years. For me, I know my big goal is that I want to be debt-free. Maybe your why is that you want to have $20,000 in savings. You want to have a down payment for a house. You want to be out of credit card debt. You want to pay for your kid’s college. What is your goal? Tell me in the comments!

Tell me what your big, wild financial goals are!

5 Things to Buy To Help You Survive Winter//

5 Things to Buy To Help You Survive Winter//

I shared the other day on Instagram Stories that I had bought a few things to help me survive the winter. You guys, I am NOT playing around this winter. I am refusing to let winter get me down and keep me from being happy. Seasonal depression is REAL but there are so many things you can do to fight it…or simply just have a more enjoyable winter.

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How To Travel On A Budget //

How To Travel On A Budget //

The hardest thing we have had to give up while tackling our debt has been traveling. We used to go on long, elaborate (and expensive) trips before realizing....shizzzz, we REALLY should be wiser about this. However, there are times when you HAVE to travel or times when you need to get away for a bit. While you're on your way to debt freedom, you really should't be going on elaborate, expensive trips so here's what we do to cut back on expenses while traveling.. 

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13 TOTALLY FREE Things to Do in Chicago //

13 TOTALLY FREE Things to Do in Chicago //

We just got home from a five day trip to Chicago. It was our first time ever visiting and we immediately fell in love. Having control of your money means having a budget and having a budget sometimes means saying no to spending money. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun! We found the BEST free things to do in Chicago...and a few of them may surprise you! 

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