How to Save Money Faster with a Monthly Budget Check

Tiana Clewis: Tell me if this sounds familiar. You're out here just trying to save money. Maybe you want a really nice cushy emergency fund. Maybe you're trying to get that 401k going. Maybe it's to buy a house. Or it could simply be that you're trying to start that business that you've been thinking about. For a while and feel like you have to have some money set aside to do.

And you're so sold out on this goal that you've actually taken the time to sit down and create a monthly budget that you've at least kind of tried to follow.

But then at the end of the month, even though it feels like and seems like you've done everything right, the amount of money that you should have been able to save is not the amount of money that you're actually able to save. And you know you're not daunted. So you try again. And then you try again and then you keep trying until finally you find yourself like, 'I've been doing this thing for months and I haven't gotten anywhere.' And now you're like frustrated and sitting under this kind of weight of like, "Is there something wrong with me?"

Now, I don't know about you, but that used to be me. I remember years ago, sitting in a semi-empty living room reflecting back and saying, "You know what? I think, I think something's wrong with me. Like, I can't do this no matter - everything I read, everything that I watch, everything I do, it says that I should be able to get this done, but I can't seem to succeed."

And I looked at other people who are around me who are like kicking butt with money. They're making things happen. They're paying off student loan debt, um, in record time. Like their emergency funds are already stacked and it's something wrong with me. Right?

Well, wrong. Now I know better.

There's one little trick that I hadn't quite learned yet, and if I had just learned that trick, it would've made my process of trying to save money and pay off debt go so much faster.

So what I'm going to do today is I'm going to show you how, if you simply take a little bit of time at the end of the month to review your budget and look back and figure out what the heck happened, not only is it going to help you overcome that problem of constant frustration with never quite succeeding with your budget, but it's also going to give you the opportunity to accelerate the speed at which you're able to hit every savings and every debt repayment goal.

Hey Dreamers and welcome back to my channel where we break down all things money so we can stop being an obstacle and start being what it is a tool to help you build a life that you truly find worth living.

Before we start walking through this crazy super duper easy budget review system that I use each month and my clients do as well, let me introduce myself to the newbies and the crowd. My name is Tiana B. Clewis and I am a Financial Lifestyle Coach, which means I've dedicated my life to helping women entrepreneurs grow their income, dump debt, and hit all their financial goals without sacrificing everything that makes life fun.

So yeah Sis, I am the type who believes that you actually can buy a house and have brunch with your home girls at the same time. It's simply all how you do it, and it's something myself and my clients have been able to do in our personal lives.

If you want to join me on this financial lifestyle journey, let me know by liking this video and subscribing to my channel. Don't forget to hit the bell so you're notified every time I drop new money tips and business strategies every single Wednesday.

Now that all that's out of the way, it's time to dive into your new secret weapon, the monthly budget review. Yeah, I know it sounds really boring, but trust me when I say it's going to help you hit the goals that you have. It's going to help you understand... well... okay, let me not give it away. Let's just start with step one.

The first thing you need to do is you need to get your numbers and put them side by side. Now when I say your numbers, I mean your budget and then you need what you actually spent, because if you can't actually compare and contrast your budget with your actual spending, you can't learn anything. You can't figure anything out.

If you're one of those people who's been using a budgeting app like I highly recommend then this is going to be really easy for you. I have yet to come across a budgeting app that does not have some sort of budget to actual comparison. The way they're set up is going to be a little different, but ultimately what I'm looking for is for you to be able to see at least in one column, here's what you budgeted to spend, and in the next column, here's what you actually spent.

Now, if you're one of those people who's doing this on pen and paper, it's going to be a little tricky. I'm sorry. It's going to take you a little more work, but maybe this will cause you to actually follow my advice and get you a budgeting app because trust and believe it's valuable. In fact, one of the things that I recommend you do, instead of just pulling together your actuals so that you can do this pen and paper calculation, I recommend that you take advantage of this time right now and actually put together - get that new budgeting app and put it together.

What you're essentially going to do is you're going to take the actuals for this month and you're going to use it to build next month's budget, or at least a draft version of it. And that way you kill two birds with one stone. You start the budget for next month and you pull together your actuals for this monthly budget view.

You know your girl is all about efficiency.

Now that you have your number sitting side by side, you want to move on to step two. We're going to look through those numbers and we're going to find all the categories where we went over. Again with most budgeting apps, this is super simple. Like EveryDollar for example. Everywhere that you went over your budget, the dag online turns red. And I seen that as a trend in a lot of budgeting apps and more often than not, all you have to do are find the lines where it turned red.

If you're using a pen and paper type of system, I recommend that you just grab a highlighter and highlight the areas where you went over.

But here's the thing we're not going to highlight, we're not going to look at the red lines that are over by, Oh, it's over by 10 cents. It's over by a dollar. We're not going to look at those itty bitty overages. We're going to look at the bigger overages, the ones that really are impacting your budget.

Depending on how tight your budget is, this can change. If you have a super tight budget, then looking at a difference of $25 can really matter, but if you have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, then maybe you want to focus on the areas where you went over by a hundred dollars or went over by $150. It really is something that you have to determine on your own, but no, we don't want to look at the 10 cent overages. We really want to look at slightly bigger overages, the ones that are having a legit impact on your budget.

The next little mini step that you have to take in step two, is once you have identified where you've gone over - the areas where... that are having a significant impact on your budget, now you want to get over yourself, get over your feelings, move past your feelings. Stop thinking about the feelings and think about the facts.

Look, the truth is that when we feel like we've messed something up or we feel like life has thrown this jacked up curve ball at us, that's caused us to mess something up. We typically have some feelings about it. We might be mad. We want to be frustrated. We might be sad, we might be disappointed. All those things might come.

Okay. Look, I'm not the biggest person on dealing with the emotions. You can deal with them later. Right now I need you to focus on the facts. This is a fact based situation, and so I need you to... okay... own your feelings, accept your feelings, but then you have to move past your feelings because that's not the most important thing. The most important thing is the numbers, but I had to bring that up because that tends to be a barrier where you get so caught up on your emotions that you can't actually do the work.

So yes, look at your feelings. Own your feelings. They are what they are. Now let's move on and let's start breaking down the numbers.

Once you're past your feelings, you really have to look at those line items and ask, "What the heck happened? What happened that caused this area to go over?"

Now I really find that when there's overages, it tends to be one of three different scenarios.

One scenario is that it's just a complete random one-off. It just is what it is. It happened. Life threw something at you. You weren't ready for it, but it's something that's probably not going to happen again. A one-off anomaly.

Those are the things that really we can kind of ignore. There's nothing that could have been done about it. It came out of the blue. It was probably something that maybe you could have pulled your emergency fund from, or it was just... I mean, it just is what it is. There's nothing you can do about it. It's probably not going to happen again. There's no point in really dwelling on that, so we're going to ignore those.

The second thing that you might run into is a longterm or permanent change that really was caused by others. And the reason why this matters that it's by others is that you may or may not have the ability to do anything about it.

So let's say for example, that your internet bill, it went up. They made the decision that they're going to increase it by $50 a month for what ever reason.

I'm telling you now, if AT&T did that to us, we would have some problems because our internet out here is not the best anyway. Hmm.

But it's something that is controlled by others and it's a change that's going to actually last. But you don't want to just accept the change for what it is just because it's created and cause by someone else. You do want to do a little research. See if there's something you can do about it.

Can you call the internet company and see if they will give you some sort of discount? Is there some sort of, um, resource available to help you out? Maybe they actually have a totally different plan that they've created that aligns more with what you actually need.

Do some research, see if there's any way that you can get that brought back down to either the original number, to below the original number, or at least lower than what it was whenever it caught you off guard. So in that case, you're just going to adjust the budget for whatever that new number is going to be.

Now, if there's nothing you can do about it, then own it. Adjust the budget to what that new number was and move on with life. Again, this is not about emotions. This is just about the facts and the numbers.

The third thing that you come across is it might have been some sort of overage, change, issue created by you. It's something that you control and in those scenarios it's all about figuring out why you did what you did and how you're going to fix it. It's really that simple.

Now, it could be that you... let's say for example, you underestimated how much you spent on groceries, and when you start paying attention to your grocery habits, you realize that one, you like to go shopping like twice a week and two, whenever you go shopping, you almost never have a list, so you end up buying a bunch of random stuff. Or you might have a list, but your list isn't really based on meals, so you ended up buying a bunch of extra stuff or buying things that don't create a meal. Then you gotta do... make extra trips to the grocery store, those sort of things.

Well, in that case, you can look at your behavior and modify it. You can make shifts and adjustments to how you do things. You might start meal planning so that your grocery list is based only on your meal prep. And then instead of going into the store where you grab random stuff, you only shop online.

That's the easiest scenario for you to figure out because that was my life and that's how I fixed it and it works. Okay? I'm just telling you it works.

But when it's something that was a decision that you made, it was based on your behavior, it's controlled by you, you have the ability to decide how you're going to fix it, how are you going to reduce the impact, how you're going to make it better. So in that case, figure out what you're going to do. Adjust your life. Adjust your plan and a adjust your budget accordingly. Simple.

Now that we've touched the side where we went over, the things that are slowing down, our ability to save as quickly as we want to. It's time to flip to the other side cause we have a plan for that stuff. Now let's look and see where there's some other opportunities inside our budget that we may have overlooked if we had never gone back and checked it out.

So here's the thing I want you to do. When you're looking at your budget and your actuals side-by-side, I want you to see if there's any areas where you were significantly under what you budgeted. Did you budget say $400 for gas and you only spent $300? Hey! We have an opportunity here and I do love an opportunity.

So again, you're going to run across those same three scenarios. It's a one-off anomaly, and in that case, you can just ignore it.

It could be a longterm or permanent change that's controlled by someone else. And in that scenario, you want to confirm that that's actually going to be like a longterm permanent change. And then you just want to reduce your budget based on what that new number is. Gotta love that one.

And then the third one is just there's something about your behavior or there's something that you just miscalculated. Maybe you thought that you were spending $300 a month on clothes, and it turns out you've actually been spending $150 because your shopping skills with these sales is on point, Sis. And if that's the case, then that's great because now there's that opportunity there where you can take that $150 and do something else with it.

So those same three scenarios apply and it really just comes down to the same thing. When you look at the line items where you were significantly under budget, when you look at what happened, there may be an opportunity there for you to capitalize on that and take that money and use it for what we need to use it for.

But wait... it might not necessarily be your savings goal like you thought it was.

Now before I tell you what the other thing may be that you need to use this extra money for, I want you to do one more thing. I want you to look inside of your budget and see if there are any other opportunities where you frankly, can pull out some extra money that you can put towards your savings.

The reason why this is important is because there are just times when we just forget about certain things. We're so used to paying for this thing at this price that we never really consider can we get the price reduced? Do we even need this thing anymore? Should I really continue to do it that way?

If we don't sit down and do a budget review and ask ourselves the question of, "Okay, this is at this level, but should I really keep it there?" then you're going to miss out on yet another opportunity to have more cash available to throw at your financial goals. So really it's just look at the line item and see, "does it have to stay where it is?"

Maybe you have a subscription that you hardly ever use. I know that right now a lot of people have a ton of video subscriptions that they're not taking advantage of. And the reality is if you're not taking advantage of all of them, you shouldn't be paying for it. Right?

Or maybe you're one of those people where let's say for example, you changed your wireless plan and now you have Disney plus included in your wireless plan, and you're still paying for it when you don't have to. Take advantage of those things. There's some things that may have shifted in your life where you no longer have to pay for certain things that you keep paying for.

So, look at the line items and see if it has to stay where it is or if there's some changes that you can or are willing to make that will let you pull even more money out of your budget to hit your goals.

Okay, so now I get to tell you what we're going to do with all of this extra money that we found. Well, the first thing you have to do before you can decide, "I'm going to put this money towards savings", is you actually have to use some of that money to offset those overages that we saw in the very beginning.

Look, that money has to come from somewhere and so the first place that that money is going to come from are these places where we found that we have an opportunity. So that's the first thing. If there are any bills that have changed, um, anything that's gone up and you just have to roll with it the way that it is, the way that it's increased, this extra money you found it first has to go to offsetting that amount.

Then it can go to savings. Boom. There you go. Super easy. This is probably the easiest step of them all.

And again, if you have a budget app, it's automatically going to do these things for you. But I do want you to make sure that as you are applying this extra money to offset these certain debts and that you're adding it to savings, make sure that at the end your budget comes to a zero.

Income minus expenses should always equal zero. We are a zero-based budgeting people because again, your budget, your... every single dollar that comes into your house should have some sorts of job. Otherwise it's going to just run out the door and go wherever it wants to and ain't nobody gets off of that because we got goals to hit, right?

So there you go. You're going to make sure offset those overages that you can't do anything about or can't do much about. Put the rest of the money in savings and make sure that at the end of the day, your budget still comes to an even big fat zero.

Once you've gone through these five super simple steps, you now have a budget that, one, actually reflects your life, and two, takes advantage of all the opportunities you have to speed up your savings process, or if you really want to, your debt payoff process.

The great thing about this is that at this point, it's just down to working the plan, doing what it is that you said you were going to do. Your budget is a commitment, so just commit to doing what you said you're going to do in the budget.

Yeah, life is going to throw you some curve balls. Why do you think we talk about that in the budget review? They're going to be some one off anomalies that come and that's going to derail your budget. It happens. That's just part of life, but your job is to do the best that you can to keep the commitment that you made in your budget so that you can hit. Your savings goals.

And don't forget at the end of the next month, you'll do this review all over again and it'll be easier this time is, especially if you went from paper... pen and paper to a budgeting app.

Now with that, you may be one of those people who says, yeah, but my budgeting skills are not on point right now. And if that's the case, if you're having trouble budgeting, you don't really get how to do it, or the way that you've been doing has been like so totally off that you're like, "Tiana, I'm missing something," don't worry. I have you covered.

I've created this thing called a Beginner Budget Checklist, which breaks down step by step, how to create a budget that actually reflects your life. That's actually going to help you hit your goals and that doesn't leave you sitting there super frustrated because none of the numbers are matching up.

Been there. Done that. Seen it many times with my clients. So that's why I created this step by step guide that's going to help you do just that.

To take advantage and grab it, head to my website at

Now that you know how to create a budget that works and review it so that you can learn and do better and hit your goals faster, I definitely want to make sure we get connected on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter with the handle tianabclewis, or you can find me on Facebook with selahfinancialcoaching.

Also, let me know that you found this video helpful by liking my video and subscribing to my channel. Don't forget, you gotta hit the bell, so you're notified every time I drop new money tips and business strategies every single Wednesday. Oh yeah your girl's consistent.

Finally, if you're looking for more information, that's going to help you continue to step up your new budgeting skills so you can continue to accelerate all of your financial success, I have a couple of videos that you definitely want to check out.

So you get to watching the videos and I'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.


Ever tried to budget and felt like you didn’t know what the heck you were doing? Let’s make budgeting easy! Download my step-by-step Beginner Budget Checklist today at

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