Finance

How I Budget

I’ve gotten a few requests to talk about how I budget from bills and shopping to travel and retirement, so let’s start at the beginning.

When I first started my graphic design business back in 2007, I saved money by living at my mom’s house. Only paying for my car and basic expenses allowed me to set some money aside which is how I was able to afford my move to Chicago. I bought furniture slowly and would set some money aside whenever I wanted something. It was a process but it all came together in the end.

After launching The Everygirl, I continued to work on design projects full-time until we were able to salary ourselves  for almost another two years. That first salary didn’t fully cover all of my expenses, so I cut my clients by about 2/3 which helped pick up the slack. Two years ago, we were finally in a position to pay ourselves enough to cover all of my expenses. The past year, I’ve been putting 1/3 of my paycheck into savings, but between my blog, rewardStyle commission, and the occasional photo shoot or interior design project allow me to travel, shop, donate, and put additional funds into savings.

Track your spending

I’ve used and both Learnvest and Mint and would recommend both. My checking, savings, credit card, and even my IRA are all linked to my Mint account, so making it easy to see what I have, what I owe, and how I spend my money. Check your accounts every week–look over spending patterns to figure out how you can save, know what you’ve spent the past few weeks, and consider what’s coming up, too.

You can set budgets for fixed expenses, shopping, travel, and groceries, and can even set savings goals. So if I want x amount of money in savings by July 1, I know how much I need to put away each month in order to make it happen.

Going out to dinner and ordering take-out are enjoyable experiences, but it’s all about balance. Figure out your budget and set reasonable number of days for you to pick up lunch or dinner. Consider meal prep to reduce your bills–it helps!

Think before you buy

After tracking your spending, figure out how much you have to spend in each category, and be mindful of both big and small purchases. Why are you buying those shoes? Can you really afford them? Do you actually need them? I do buy things I want but often pine over big purchases. Saving is very important to me, and I always put aside 1/3 of my salary.

How I redecorated my new home

Media/bloggers will often receive media rates (a percentage off) or gifted product in exchange for promotion. If you ever see a “c/o” next to something, that means the item was given care of a brand in exchange for blog and social media posts. There’s often some sort of contract or agreement and I only ever feature products I actually love.

Conor’s dad is a furniture designer/antiques dealer and gave Conor a vintage cabinet and dining table base. We installed this chandelier c/o Lamps Plus and this lighting c/o Rejuvenation. I bought our dining chairs a few years ago and our the light grey velvet bench cushion arrived c/o Loom Decor.

The Everygirl designed two sofas for Interior Define and as part of the partnership, we were given pieces from the collection to promote in our home tours. Conor ordered our coffee table before we talked about moving in together, we bought and split the price of our jute rug, and the Flag Halyard chair was purchased with a 40% media discount. I bought our curtains and our new curtain rods arrived c/oRejuvenation. Our media console is the one I had in my last place.

We’re using my dresser, split the cost of our bed, nightstands arrived c/o Kathy Kuo, bedside lamps c/o Lulu and Georgia, this mirror was purchased with a 25% discount, and these velvet pillows arrived c/o Rejuvenation a few months ago.

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