Developing and sticking to a budget can do more than track your spending and savings. Most importantly, budgets assist us with working towards our unique financial goals. Here are a few easy steps for creating a budget that you can stick to.
START WITH YOUR GOALS
Write down your financial goals for the year. Include actual dollar amounts and time frames of when you would like to have your goals accomplished. For example a measurable goal would be: I would to like to have $2000 in my emergency fund by December 1. Another example would be: I would like to pay down my XYZ Credit Card by $4000 no later than October 1. Divide your actual dollar amount by the number of months between now and the goal date to figure out the monthly number that should be plugged into your budget.
UNDERSTAND YOUR INCOME
Before you can establish a budget, you have to know “exactly” how much money you have coming in every month from your employer and other sources. Sure, this can fluctuate for anyone that may be in the gig economy or are entrepreneurs. In this case, I suggest that you budget based off of the average of your lowest and highest earning months. Be sure to only include your (net income) the money that you actually see after taxes, insurance, etc.).
TOTAL YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES
How much money are you spending every month? While this number may vary throughout the year there should be a level of consistency. When tallying your numbers be sure to include everything (all debt payments, groceries, rent/mortgage, utilities, gas, daycare, yoga, therapy, everything).
LET’S CREATE A BUDGET
If this is your first attempt at creating a budget, subtract your money expenses from (#3) from your monthly income (#2). If the balance is positive, then you’re in good shape. This means that you’ve created a budget that balances well for your life- style. If your number is in the negative, continue to work at this.
Be realistic enough to truly know yourself. We are often moved by our emotions. This leads to unplanned spending, as a result of random invites, self-care getaways that you crave but haven’t accounted for in your budget and sometimes just the desire to spend money because you have it.
CONTINUE TO COMMIT TO YOUR BUDGET
Budgets can take a while to get accustomed to if you’re new to the ball game. If your first try ended with negative numbers, continue to repeat this exercise each month. The closer you are to a positive number, the more excited you will be to master the plan.