For a long time, I thought I was very broke. Maybe I was. I got my friend, Seyi Kusa(who at the time was way better than me with Microsoft Excel) to help me edit a Microsoft Budget Spreadsheet template to reflect the Naira with added modifications for the Nigeria context. That was a turning point in my life.
Link in the bottom for my current spreadsheet(Microsoft Excel and Numbers for Mac).
It was then I realized I was even more broke than I thought I was.
The document reflected my projected income, my actual income, my projected spendings and my actual spendings. Ah! Now everything was clear! Seye, you’re not as rich as you thought you were.
For the first time in my life, I realized that I spent more money on transportation than self-care. Try it you’d be shocked at where your money really goes!
For the first time in my life, I realized self-care could be really cheap. Meanwhile, in my mind, self-care was for people with too much money in their pockets. I realized I could buy the perfume of my choice every two months rather than wait for an entire year when I buy from ‘duty-free’. I realized I could actually book a spa appointment every month for the cost of a movie ticket(okay, add popcorn, a soda and a follow-follow like my friend Princewill).
I write here about my experience with keeping a budget sheet hoping that you may be inspired in some way, maybe make a few tweaks to yours that may work better for you.
Because I noticed I spent more money on transportation than any other aspect of my life, I had to consider new options including firing my driver. It helped me sit up to realize that I could actually move closer to my office by spending more money for apartment rent and less on fuel. This has been one of the best decisions I have made in recent times.
I started budgeting for new clothes every month. That may not be anything to you but I never cared much about clothing. But this was an actual ‘wow, Seye you really can afford to dress better’.
More importantly, keeping a budget kept me from spending money foolishly. It gave me a sense of purpose.
You know, I stopped feeling bad about seeing movies twice a month. In the past, I would think “How can you just be wasting money on a movie that you can kukuma just copy from Joey Akan at the office). I had a budget for entertainment and movies was part of it. I actually had my movie nights scheduled.
Because I had budgets for the key aspects of my life, if I overshot in one area, another would suffer it, so it kept me in check. For instance, if I spent too much money at an outing with friends(say I paid for everyone’s drinks and it set me back), I would take it out on self care. This could mean I won’t cut my hair that month.
I alloted a percentage to friends and family who may need a loans from me from time to time. If someone lent money from me and it was the entire monthly quota, that was it! I couldn’t lend to anyone else. Now this initially felt cruel. But I realized I was actually helping myself here. For a long time I was always wondering why I was always broke despite earning more than 80% of Nigerians. But I spotted this as a major leak. If there was an event where I had to lend someone money after exhausting my quota, automatically some other aspect would have to pay for it. Maybe no movies for that month. Or no hair cut that month.
Donations and offerings
Same with donations, it helped me monitor with more pride how much I gave to charity because I was deliberate about the percentage of my income I set aside to charity organizations and as a gift to my God.
I won’t lie, sometimes it’s hard to keep a budget. But when I fail to do so, more often than not, I end up in a financial wreck. You know what I noticed again? It’s in this situation you need a budget sheet the most. No, not when you hit that major money and then you want to start planning how you will spend it. No! It’s when you don’t have money that you should actually get pen to paper and tell yourself some truth. Maybe it’s time to not buy meat in that stew for a few weeks- of course with the intention of saving the sinking boat till normal financial operations continue.
So here are the categories I created for myself:
Here, I calculated my house rent for the year, split it into monthly sums, then added bills in this category. For example, PHCN bills, water bills and even phone bills.
In this category, I put a budget together for a weekly eat-out, monthly eat-out and movies. My monthly eat-out was calculated with the mind that I would go out on a date with someone.
Savings & Investment
I set aside 20% of my income for Savings.
Here, I calculated my monthly car maintenance(factoring a 3months service period), fuel, toll fees, and yearly drivers’ license fees. I even compare insurance quotes to select the one according to my convenience. National Loans is reliable if you want to get a vehicle loan.
For this category, I factored in haircuts, my Meditation app subscription(I use Headspace), Music subscription(to Google Play Music), a paid online learning service I use, skin care and perfumes.
Gifts and Donations
I put a 10% tab on gifts and donations and then benevolence. I noticed I cross the budget on this category every month. Of course, I have to take this out on another category.
In this category, I put into consideration the cost of meals at the office on a daily basis and then weekly meal preparations when I go grocery shopping.
I set up a percentage and a table for my Emergency Funds. I also set up a table that details the several bank accounts I have plus the percentage of my income goes to each of them. Oh, of course, I have an account for turn-up!
I hope this somehow helps someone. If it does, just shoot me a comment and if you would need help in planning this out you can also let me know.
I have attached download links to my budget templates for both Numbers for Mac and Google Sheets(You can download this if you want to use on Excel).