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Art Beyond

Money Talks: Setting Up A Monthly Budget

For many of us, "budget" can be a four letter word. We don't know how to make one, we aren't good at following one, or we feel the effort is wasted because something always comes up and blows it out of the water anyway. Well, Art Beyond is here to help with all of that.

First, a budget is a projection of where you plan to spend money. It is a tool used to make decisions throughout the budget period. That budget period could be a month, a week, the duration of a project, or for as long as you can make grant money last. The time period is based on your needs.

Second, all you need to get started is a couple pieces of paper and something to write with. I love a good spreadsheet and it would be fabulous if each of you felt the confidence to enter your budget into a Google sheet or Excel workbook and utilize all of the features available there; however, I know this can be a challenge and even an outright barrier for some. Not everyone pulls up a blank spreadsheet and feels the possibility that I do, a lot of you may feel apprehension, anxiety, or downright terror. So let’s take it off the table for now.

Third, you don’t need a crystal ball. The best indicator of the future is the past and the easiest place to access all of your past transactions is your bank account(s) and/or credit card account(s). It is tremendously helpful to have access to your past bills while budgeting, but it is definitely not going to prevent you from getting started!

Let’s walk through creating a monthly budget.

This process is the same for your personal budget or a creative business budget.

Start by listing out monthly recurring bills (monthly expenses that you can expect - rent, utilities, subscriptions)

  1. On one piece of paper, start a list of monthly bills you remember off the top of your head.

  2. Fill in any due dates you remember.

  3. Once you’ve written down everything you can remember, go back through your bank account(s) and any credit card account(s) one at a time for other recurring monthly charges. Don’t forget to add the dates!

  4. Once you have all of the expenses listed, on a second piece of paper, rearrange the list of monthly bills in order by date.

Ta-Da! You’re one third of the way through the budget creation process!

Now we’re going to look at monthly expenses that are predictable, but the amounts fluctuate.

  1. Decide how you want to categorize these expenses and go back through your account(s) looking for charges that fall into those categories.

    1. Some of my personal budget categories are: groceries; restaurant meals; gas; spending money (shopping, gifts, etc.)

    2. Example business budget categories - meals, creative supplies, office supplies, education, etc.

  2. Use a calculator (or your calculator app) to add up expenses from each of your categories and add them to the paper with your list of monthly bills. *you might be surprised at some of the totals!

You’re almost done!

The last task is to find expenses that occur less often than once a month and determine how much to you need to save each month to cover them.

  1. Look back over your list and see if you can think of any bi-monthly, quarterly, or annual bills not accounted for in your list. You can also skim through bank and credit card statements for these charges.

    1. Examples: Annual website fee, quarterly tax payment, copay for twice yearly doctor visits, etc.

  2. Assign a portion of those charges to your monthly budget as an amount that needs to be saved and not spent. 

    1. Example: Wix charges me $320 every year to renew my website. $320/12 months = $26.67 per month I need to be saving $27 a month to have the $320 charge for Wix without panicking when it comes due.

That’s it! You have a budget!

Now how do you use it?

  • Evaluate where your money is going.

    • This is based on historical information, do you want to continue to spend your money the same way moving forward?

    • Did you realize how much you were spending on restaurant food or shopping?

    • Are you using all of the services you are subscribed to - Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Youtube Music?

    • Did you realize how often you have to put gas in your car?

  • Compare the due dates of your bills to when you get paid.

    • Will you have money to pay your utilities before the bill is due?

    • How much do you need to set aside out of each paycheck to have money for your rent before it is due?

  • Set up a savings account to hold onto the money needed to pay those less frequent bills.

  • Copy your budget over each month and adjust it for expected fluctuations (like higher electric/gas bills in the winter) and how pay dates will line up with billing due dates.

I firmly believe that no matter how much or how little money we have, knowing what we have and where it is being spent empowers us to make good decisions.

If you’d like help with budgeting or bookkeeping for your creative business or want more information, please reach out.

If you are curious about budgeting for Creative Projects, we have a class coming up on February 13, 2024 at 7pm. Sign up HERE!

❤️- Esther

Check out our all of our classes HERE.

Have a specific question(s) for Elizabeth or me? Book a 15-minute "Ask us Anything" Consultation available HERE.

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