a couple high fiving while surrounded by stacks of money

What's a Budget?

One of the hardest things about heart failure is the financial component. Personally, it seems like it's been a double whammy between an exponential increase in my medical expenses and pharmaceuticals while also dealing with having to take a step back in my career, which has a negative financial component as well. I am sure many of us are in a similar boat of having to make now more limited funds stretch farther.

One of the things I have done lately to help is to track my spending, is create a budget and figure out how I am going to adhere to it. This may seem like a waste of time, and honestly, at the beginning, I felt the same. My boyfriend talked to me constantly about tracking my spending and creating a budget, but I did not understand why he constantly brought it up. However, having started the activity, I can see the benefits. Let me explain!

What are the benefits of having a budget?

  1. When you track your spending, you might be surprised at where your money is going. Those little emotional purchases add up. Also, you may forget about certain subscriptions, or you may have been paying for something for so long you have forgotten how much you are paying for something! Like I had a home security system in home, but I was shocked at how much I was paying monthly for the service. It's now canceled...
  2. Creating a budget has been helpful because it lessens my stress knowing how all of the important bills are going to be paid. It also lessened stress knowing that I have a plan to address really important financial tools, like an emergency fund. It's important to have emergency monies set aside because life happens, and things come up! If you do not have the resources set aside, then you can find yourself putting things on credit cards which can shoot you in the foot when you start considering how easy it is to pay interest fees!

Staying on track

Tracking spending and creating a budget is terrific, but if you do not follow the budget, what good does it do? This is hard, especially when you are stressed and overwhelmed. It can feel like one additional thing to add to an already overfilled plate. You can take an Excel spreadsheet and go through your bank account(s), credit cards, etc., and record all of your purchases. There are also apps that you can use that allow you to create a budget and link to your bank account(s) so it automatically tracks purchases. The one we have started using is Monarch. The benefit of this tool is that it's easy to log on and see where you are at throughout the month. How much have you spent on groceries, at Target, etc.? The other way of doing it is taking out cash (based on the allocated funds in the budget), putting them in envelopes, and having that be your spending for the month. That is a quick and easy way to always see where you are at.

Saving money!

Lastly, how can you save money? I am no expert. However, a few things we have done are cancel a few unnecessary subscriptions and services, watch the dollar here and dollar there I am spending on small items, and we have also started going to Farmers Markets on the weekends to bulk up on food for the week. What we were spending on groceries was crazy. Personally, we tend to find that we get more for the dollar as compared to a regular grocery store. Additionally, my boyfriend has started meal prepping for the week, and it's been amazing how much less we are spending. It also means that you have to really be comfortable with leftovers, but that is okay for us.

What are good money-saving solutions we have missed?!

Heart failure and finances

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