How to Budget for Clarity & Confidence

Money Files

Have you ever said “no” to an amazing opportunity because you were worried about the money? I have, and I know plenty of clients who have, too. Instead of seizing the opportunity, they closed the door, promising themselves they’d get around to it when they had more money. But financial confidence doesn’t necessarily come from having tons of money. Creating a budget can give you the understanding and ability to manage the money you have.

In this episode, I’m breaking down the basics of creating your own financial plan: what you need to know, what it needs to include, and how to use it. I’m sharing my own journey with budgeting and the doors it’s opened for me. Plus, I’m explaining how to create a budget that makes you feel confident, not restricted.

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • Why I love budgeting and the confidence it brings me [0:56]
  • How I got started with budgeting, and how my system has evolved [2:20]
  • How budgeting allows you to make aligned choices in your life and business [6:43]
  • How to create a personal financial plan and gain clarity around your numbers [9:47]
  • Why your financial plan should include a zero-based budget (and how to make one) [12:58]
  • How to budget for the unexpected and save money over time [14:55]
  • How understanding your numbers allows you to say “yes” to more opportunities [17:50]

If you’re ready to set and reach your long-term financial goals, tune in for this week’s episode.

Tune in to this episode to learn how to get started with your own financial plan.

In the episode…

When I created my first budget, I only made about $300 per month. While that might not seem like enough money to warrant an actual budget, my financial plan gave me the clarity and confidence to make smart, aligned decisions every single day.

My income has (thankfully) grown since then, but the foundation of my budget has remained the same: I spend and save in accordance with my values. Every dollar has a job, and I genuinely feel good about the work my money is doing in my business and life.

Whether you make $100 per month or $10,000, having a financial plan and strong understanding of your numbers allows you to say “yes” to opportunities that excite you. When you know where your money’s going, you can make moves–like quitting your job, taking a trip, or buying a house–without worrying whether your bills will get paid. It all starts with clarity.

Ready to create your own financial plan? Download my free template, and then follow these three steps: 

STEP 1: Understand your financial values.

Many people shy away from budgeting because it sounds restrictive. They wouldn’t dare give up their daily Starbucks run or biweekly manicure. And who could blame them? These things bring them joy and enrich their lives, and as a financial coach, I don’t want to take that away from anyone.

So instead of creating a budget that looks like everyone else’s, we’re going to build your spending plan in alignment with your values. Whatever matters most to you–self care, travel, giving back to your community–will be accounted for. Define those values, and use them to create your plan.

Check out this episode for more on defining your financial values.

STEP 2: Set financial goals.

Now that you’ve defined your values, let’s set some goals! These might be short-term (like something you want to treat yourself to at the end of the month) or long-term (like how much you want in your emergency savings fund at the end of the year). As with everything else in your plan, these goals should align with your values and get you closer to the vision you have for your business and life.

Check out this episode for more on setting, reaching, and exceeding your financial goals.

STEP 3: Create a zero-based budget.

Once you’re clear on how you want to make financial decisions, it’s time to start putting those values into practice. Your next step is creating a zero-based budget.

The concept of a zero-based budget is simple: every dollar has a job. When you deposit money into your account, you immediately give it a “job” to do, like paying for groceries or going to your emergency fund. That way, there’s no spare change floating around and you know exactly how much money you have to spend on each category of your budget.

Check out this episode for more on creating a budget that aligns with your values and goals.

Here are the takeaways I want you to remember from this episode…

  • No matter how much you make, no matter your pay schedule, you can start budgeting today. 
  • Budgeting isn’t about limiting yourself. It’s about creating more opportunities for you to say “yes” to the things you value most.
  • The better you understand your numbers–both in your business and personal life–the easier it will be to make aligned choices that get you closer to your goals.

It all starts with understanding your numbers. So download my free spending plan template and let’s get started.

If you’re ready to gain financial clarity and start saying “yes” to the things that light you up, apply to work with me and let’s get you closer to your goals.

The Transcript

Hi and welcome to Money Files, I’m Keina Newell from Wealth Over Now. I work every day with professional women and solopreneurs to help them get out of financial overwhelm and shame so they can experience more flexibility and ease with their finances. Are you ready to gain confidence and learn to manage your finances intentionally? Tune in and grab financial tips that will help you master the way you think about and manage your finances. 

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Money Files, I want to ask you that if you’ve enjoyed the episodes so far, go to Apple Podcasts, leave a review. Share your feedback. I would love to hear from you. I know that there are people in South Africa, Mozambique listening to me, and there are people in the United States and just all over. So I love knowing the reach that the podcast has. 

So I was recently thinking about why I love budgeting, because I know that not everyone has that same perspective when it comes to managing their finances, but I personally find budgeting to be very therapeutic. When I look at numbers, it’s like a very clear picture. I can see that two plus three equals five. It gives me a lot of relief and excitement. And like I said, I know that other people don’t feel the same way. But when I think about my love for budgeting and even when I think about what I’m teaching clients and working with clients about managing their finances. One of the things that constantly comes back up for me is that my ability to manage my finances and feel confident with my finances ultimately provides me with choices, and I hear a lot of people talk about, I want to work with you because I want financial freedom. And when you think about the word financial freedom, there’s a lot of different ways I think people can think about that. I know sometimes there’s people that are in the fire community, but when I think about financial freedom for myself, I think about the ability to have choices. For me, it’s about the ability to be able to say yes to opportunities that feel like they’re in alignment with the things that I value or my goals or my purpose. 

And I want to tell you a story and connect it back to when I first started budgeting. I budgeted in college back when I felt like everyone was seemingly rich, and I think I made about 300 dollars from my work study job on campus. And I remember I had actually like a sheet of paper that I have like different boxes and like I had to pay to get my hair done. I paid for my cell phone. I pay for gas as minimal expenses, especially when I was living in the dorms. And then when I moved into the campus apartment, of course, everything was on student loans. So the $300 essentially did make me very wealthy. But when I think back to my first kind of budgeting system, that’s what it was. It was like a piece of paper that I knew, Hey, I have three hundred dollars a month and like, here are the things that I need to be paying. And then my senior year of college, I think, was when budgeting definitely came back up to the forefront because what I needed to do was kind of decide what I was going to do with my life in terms of career? And when I was a senior, I was applying to Teach for America. I was applying to jobs and I was applying to grad school in December of my senior year of college. I had actually accepted a job in the oil and gas industry. I’m from Oklahoma and I had a management and finance degree, so it was natural that you would go and work for oil and gas. So I remember I had accepted a job. I want to see if the job offer was for like fifty or fifty five thousand dollars a year, and a couple of my friends that were older had already gone to work for this particular company. So I also knew that although I was coming in at like fifty or fifty five, that my ability to increase my salary was going to be pretty substantial in like a short amount of time. And like I said, I was also looking at grad school because at the time I wanted to get an MBA. And I was also looking at Teach for America so that in December I accepted this job offer. 

Teach for America reaches out to me and they tell me I’ve been accepted. I talked to the recruiter at the time and he told me that I like to be a middle school math teacher. I first tell him, like, No, there’s no way I can teach math, which is laughable now because I love numbers. And then too, like, can you tell me how much money I’m going to be making? So at that time, once again, it’s like a bracket here. It was either like thirty thousand dollars a year or up to thirty three thousand dollars a year that I was going to be making as a teacher living in St. Louis. And I mean, immediately, what comes to mind is like, how am I supposed to be able to afford to live off of like thirty three thousand dollars a year? I’ve also already taken this other job that’s twenty five thousand dollars more per year and you want me to come and teach also, you want me to teach something that I feel like I don’t even know how to teach. So when I was speaking to the recruiter, I acknowledged the fact that one of my hang ups was the fact that I wasn’t going to be making a lot of money and there were goals that I had. I wanted to be able to pay off my student loans. I wanted to be able to save and how could I do that? Off of 30 grand a year. And we had a budgeting conversation, so I started looking at the cost of living. I started looking at kind of breaking down like, how much would I actually be making her paycheck like after taxes? Long story short, because if any of you guys know, I clearly was in education for over a decade, but I accepted the job to become a teacher. 

And the reason that I’m telling you this story is that I had this epiphany a few weeks ago that budgeting has allowed me to be able to lean into my purpose of life, and my purpose in life has always been to help other people. I always wanted to live a very purpose driven life. And when I think about what jobs I wanted to have, I wanted to be able to give back to the community or for someone to be able to have a direct impact and an influence because of the work that I was doing. And had I not been able to manage my finances, I don’t know that I would have said yes to teach for America or I don’t know. I shouldn’t even say manage my finances as much as it is. It was like a kind of vision out and play out. What will this situation look like if I say yes to this? So when I talk about budgeting, allowing me to lean into and have access to choices like, that’s one example of how that showed up for me in my life. And that same narrative has continued to play out. I mean, more recently than or know a little bit over a year ago, I resigned from a full time role to go all in on my business. And had I not been someone who manages their finances, well, that could be really scary for me. But I mean, I have my numbers, I know my plan, and so I’m able to lean in fully into something that seems very purpose aligned. I don’t have to look at the fear. I can actually look at the possibility and be able to focus on that because I’ve created this confidence and clarity for myself. It doesn’t mean that I know how everything is going to work out, but I’m able to move differently because of the fact that I know my numbers and it’s not a false sense of movement. 

I think times and I can say this just like kind of looking at people around me is we have this YOLO kind of lifestyle and we want to keep up with the Joneses. And so like, yes, we have acquired things. But is it actually in alignment with where you desire to be? And if you haven’t actually paused to look at it, what are your values? What are your goals? How are you using your money to elevate those things that you value and elevate your goals? Then essentially, you could be living what I call a lie because you’re spending in one way, but it’s not actually in alignment with anything that you truly desire. if you were actually to sit down and really look at the numbers. Ultimately, I want you to be in a financial position to be able to buy a home, switch jobs, decide to work less hours, and negotiate your salary. Maybe you want to start a business. Maybe you actually want to be able to stay in your business or you want to be able to take advantage of opportunities to invest. And I want you to be able to do that without stress. I want you to be able to do those things with clarity, confidence and control. And all of that comes from actually knowing your numbers. 

When I say budgeting isn’t just about a spreadsheet or like paying off your debt or saving money. This is just one layer of what I’m talking about. I want you to really have that internal confidence that is supported by the fact that you know what you can actually do with your finances. I want you to have peace of mind and be able to go after the things that you desire that don’t look like the person next door to you. And those things that you desire could be in alignment with being able to travel. Or maybe you’re thinking about your career or it touches other areas of your life, like family or business. But ultimately, I want you to be able to have choices. And if you were listening to my voice, I want you to know that you can have choices. 

So what we’re going to talk about today in this podcast episode is where and how you get this for yourself. And it comes with creating a financial plan. I’m not talking about a financial plan that you create with a financial planner. I am talking about a financial plan where you know your numbers personally. So for me, the things that go into a financial plan are your values, your goals, your personal spending plan, your debt payoff plan. If you’re a business owner, I would also want you to include something like your business spending plan. So it’s really going to be like your one stop shop for an. Knowing your numbers and making intentional decisions. You need a financial plan because it’s going to provide you with direction and it’s going to let you know, what can I do with the money that’s in my possession? And how can I actually create space for more money? It’s going to ensure that the things that happen in your life financially don’t just happen by chance. It’s going to happen on purpose because you’ve actually taken the steps to get yourself to the place that you desire to be, and it’s going to move you beyond what I often see people have, which is like what I would call like a seven day money cycle where after seven days, their money’s kind of gone because they don’t know how to manage it. Or maybe you’re in a 15 day money cycle, or maybe even a 30 day money cycle like you can make it to the end of the month. But beyond that, you don’t really have a line of sight for what’s happening with your numbers. I want you to always be confident with what’s happening with your numbers. I want you to have a financial self concept that when you see money in your account, there should be money in your account. Why wouldn’t there be money in your account like that’s just normalized that you don’t operate from a place of scarcity, that you operate from a place of abundance? That’s what I desire for you. 

So if you want to start creating your own financial plan and there’s a couple of steps you need to take if you’ve been following along with me for the past couple of episodes, the first thing I want you to have in your plan and I want you to know your financial values, what do you value personally? What do you value financially? So if you go back to episode three, you can start to craft your values. I want you to know your financial goals, like if you listen to episode four and you’re thinking, I don’t know what life looks like at 80, try to actually dive into it and see what comes up for you. Because ultimately, in this next year, I really want you to be making moves towards accomplishing your financial goals that lead you to where you desire to be in the next year and in the next six months. Because by the time you complete the goals that you have set out for the next year and the next six months, you’re going to be able to do that financial goal setting again. You’re going to have a new set of goals that’s going to bring your five year goals closer to realization because you’ve been taking the steps month after month, week after week. And so you’re going to have created these results for yourself. 

And the next thing I want you to have in your financial plan, which we haven’t talked a lot about, but we’re going to dive into more today in this episode is creating that zero-based budget for yourself. So when I talk about a zero based budget, I want you to think about all the money that you have coming in, and I want you to assign all of the dollars and give every single dollar value. So when I do this exercise with clients, it looks like planning for things that maybe they’ve planned for in the past. Maybe they haven’t planned for in the past, but pushing like what you know to be true about your finances to the side in terms of like. But I’m not currently saving right now, not that mindset, but we want to talk about what do you actually want to be able to do with your money? We want you to create a spending plan and if you go to the show notes a link to the spending plan that I use. I have a spending plan for business owners and I have one also for personal finances. So you can grab either one of those to do this exercise with me. 

But in creating your zero based budget, I want you to first think about what I call your future self. I want you to be thinking about how you want to save money consistently each and every month? I want you to be a shift from, I say, what’s left over? I kind of save sometimes, but not all the time. No, we’re saving every month. So if you had a goal, let’s say, in six months to have twelve hundred dollars saved in your emergency fund, then we know when your spending plan, we would definitely want to make sure that you’re saving two hundred dollars a month. If you had a goal in the next year to save ten thousand dollars in your emergency fund and you’re starting from zero, then we’d want to make sure that you’re saving eight hundred and thirty four dollars every single month like that would be in your spending plan. Also in your spending plan, you’re going to be thinking about going back to old bank statements. I always suggest that if you go back 30 to 90 days, look at your bank statements and think about the things that caught you off guard. You’re like, Oh, I had to get much higher fixed or, Oh, that thing in my house broke. So those are things that I want you to start planning for and your spending plan. The way that that would look in your spending plan is to have an auto maintenance fund. You have a home repair fund. So just thinking about what are things that I need to plan for that are irregular. But I want to make sure that I’m saving for those things over time. The other things you want to consider and plan for and your spending plan are the things that you desire to do. So I don’t want you to have a life like that. I have to save all my money or pay off debt, I can’t have fun. Let’s say you enjoy traveling. How are you saving towards travel for the year? If you think about your travel expenses, how much do you want to spend annually? Maybe you decide that you want to spend six thousand dollars for travel in a year. Well, in order to do that, we’re not going to wait and say, Oh, my May paycheck is going to go toward my travel. No, we’re going to put five hundred dollars a month from every paycheck to make sure that that five hundred dollars goes towards travel. 

So that’s what you’re going to do in terms of setting intentions and giving every single dollar a name in your spending plan. And you don’t want to. You also want to make sure that in addition to some of these longer term goals and shorter term goals, you’re also, of course, incorporating expenses that we all know we have that I call adulting expenses. If you have a mortgage, you want to plan for that if you have a mortgage. Then you also probably have utilities. You want to make sure that you’re planning for your utilities. If the pest control man comes every quarter, you can plan for that, too. It doesn’t have to be that it needs to be a monthly expense to be in your monthly budget. So if that’s a quarterly expense, figure out what the annual amount is and divide that by 12. 

Then I want you to think about the expenses that you have that I categorize as like First World problems, self-care and just like I want to have fun, right? And so some of those things, especially when I’m working with women, I always ask them about their hair and they inevitably tell me, Oh, I don’t get my hair done all the time. I’m like, All right. Well, when you do get your hair done, how much does it cost? Oh, I don’t know. Like three hundred dollars. Okay, well, how often do you get it done? So that could be something for some listeners. It’s like you only do that quarterly. But if you do that quarterly, that’s twelve hundred dollars a year, which means that I want you to save one hundred dollars a month to go towards your hair. If you give that person a tip, if you buy hair products while you’re there, you’re considering all of those things and putting them into your spending plan. 

So in this episode, I thought about just diving into teaching guys how to create a spending plan for yourself. But for me, it’s about so much more than just having a budget. It’s really when I think about having a financial plan and when I was thinking about the story, I told you in the beginning of just how I’ve made different life decisions and being able to have choices. I think about right now, if you don’t feel confident with managing your finances, if you don’t like to know your numbers, then what opportunities are you not able to say yes to? Because you don’t know your numbers, and I’m not talking about the opportunity to buy a latte or not. This is so much bigger than a latte. You can have all the lattes you want. My client, Kim, loves Grubhub, she told me. When we work together, I don’t like to cook. I said, Great, we can work around that. 

So it’s not about that, but it’s really about what would you actually be able to say if you felt confident with your numbers? I was able to tell my boss, I’m resigning. Here’s my two weeks notice because I felt confident with my numbers. I’ve been able to talk to my bosses about my salary and being able to negotiate different things because I knew my numbers. I knew where I wanted to be, but I also knew my choices if I wanted to leave the job. I knew my numbers when I was preparing to buy a home. So on the other side of your financial plan is a lot of opportunities that you can say yes to. And when you don’t feel confident with your finances, then you’re unable to actually say yes to your purpose in life. And that’s how I see it all connecting. 

So sit down. Go to my show notes. Download that spending plan and add that piece to your financial plan. Be really clear on what my values are? What are my goals? OK, here’s my spending plan. Here’s my plan for how I desire to spend my money. If you’re someone who likes Keina, my pay fluctuates every single month. I want you to think about what’s the average amount that you make? Make your spending plan based on that. If you are an entrepreneur, you can make a spending plan as well. And maybe you just don’t put it in a paycheck amount, but you can set your goals for what you desire to achieve because then you’ll know how much you desire to actually be paying yourself versus going off for a number of I just pay myself when my account gets low. 

So there’s work to be done here, and my hope is that you feel really confident in gaining this knowledge and really thinking about what my numbers are. I am really curious, and I’m going to use that curiosity to change my relationship with myself. So thank you for tuning in this week, and I look forward to chatting with you next week. Have a great one.

Thank you so much for listening to Money Files. If you’re ready to take the next step to reach your financial goals, head to www.WealthOverNow.com/Appointment and let’s get started.

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