Five years ago, I was sitting exactly where you are now. I was sick of feeling broke between paychecks. I was sick of wondering exactly when and how I’d pay off my debt. I wanted to save up for big things like a house and vacations. Mostly, I wanted to feel like I was in control of my money. I made a New Year’s resolution that that was going to be the year I buckled down and started budgeting.
(Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times)
When I started out, I had no idea what I was doing. I Googled “budget software,” read a few reviews and picked one. I went with YNAB (short for You Need a Budget), but you don’t have to. You can budget with a spreadsheet or with a free app. (I go over a few of your options at the end of this email.)
For a lot of people, money is scary. But it’s worth the stress of digging into your spending and debt. Budgeting changed my life. Now it’s your turn.
All you need to get started is a computer — there’s really too much going on to do this all from your phone — a calculator app, and maybe a pen and paper.
We Can Teach You That
Totally Worth It live event
Learn how to take control of your money in 2022. In this one-hour webinar, The Times’ Jessica Roy will help get you started making a budget you’ll actually use, share tips for spending less money and show you how to make a plan to pay off your debt. Audience members are invited to ask questions during the event.
When: Jan. 11, 2022; 6 p.m. PT
Where: We Can Teach You That webinar. Link to come on the day of the event.
Cost: $10 for Times subscribers; $20 for general public.
More info: Contact [email protected] with any questions.
What is budgeting, and why should I bother?
Before we dive in, let’s talk about what budgeting is and is not.
Think of your dollars as your employees. Without a budget, your dollars are just goofing off at their desks all day with nothing to do. They’re going to be at their most productive when you act like their boss and give them assignments.
At its most basic level, budgeting is figuring out the answers to these four questions: