Budgeting 101

Hi all! I’m new here but was hoping I could get some good advice from others who have been in my shoes. I have never been good at saving money/budgeting and I’m a server meaning the bulk of my income is cash which I have on me at all times. I make decent money but I have no idea where it all goes!! And before I know it I’m struggling to pay my bills each month because I wait until the last minute and then I don’t know where my money has all gone!!? Any tips/suggestions on budgeting for beginners??



The one thing that has saved me is automatic bill pay. That way I don’t have to worry about dates. I still struggle with spending my savings so have a credit union account to hold my savings so I don’t see it.
I should put paypal and Apple Pay on hold so I don’t spend my savings


Try writing down every penny that you spend for a few days and then you can see where the money is going. If you see what it is being spent on you can then make adjustments.

Welcome to the Pennyhoarder! And Good Luck!


Look on the PennyHoarder site for the Budgeting Bootcamp and enroll in it. In the meantime, I agree to write down every penny you spend to get a handle on this. Since you like cash, try the Envelope system for now. Fill up envelopes with the amounts for rent, groceries, etc., and that way you’ve already designated those funds. Don’t touch the money in those envelopes unless it is for what you designated them for. At the end of the month, you will at least know you have money for the most important things. If it were me operating in cash, I think I would try the Envelope system to kickstart things. Good luck and welcome.

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Welcome to the community Ashley!

Below are some basic tips I employ myself:

  1. Pay yourself first: in other words, the second you see money in your checking / savings account, take 15% (or more, if you can do it) and either save, invest, or pay off debt.

  2. If you have credit card debt, stop reading and start using that 15% I mentioned earlier and pay that toward your credit card debt. CC debt is the WORST and could truly impair your efforts for saving toward retirement.

  3. Assuming you paid off your credit card debt, start building an emergency savings account equal to 3 - 6 months worth of your living expenses. Keep in mind that your emergency savings account should ONLY be in cash (so you have easy access to the money in the case you need it).

  4. Assuming you have no debt and have a good emergency savings account, it’s time to start investing!

Good luck!!

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@ashley.allen Do not prioritize credit card debt over savings now if you have it. Make minimum payments. In these times, and any times really, you want an emergency fund…cash.


@sthom You make a great point for @ashley.allen: Financial advice really should be customized to your own personal situation - the pieces of advice you are given in these responses are rules of thumb. There is no one-answer-fits-all-situations type of response. It really just depends on your personal financial situation and I would say if you are looking to better understand your financial picture, it would likely be best to consult a financial advisor who would be able to tailor their specific financial recommendations to your needs.

I agree @the.millennial.money.woman, all personal finance is “personal,” which is why based on the information @ashley.allen provided, it sounds like credit card debt is probably not an issue for her. Having cash and it blowing through her fingers sounds like her immediate issue.

Seeking the advice of a personal financial advisor is excellent advice (and something she may want to do), but she can put out her current fires by knowing where her “cash” is going. Budgeting using envelopes would be a place for her to start. When I was much, much younger? and was often paid in cash, I used that system to budget.

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