Money is a significant focus throughout life. It enables you to provide things for your family and friends, enhance life through good education, receive the best healthcare, and support and achieve your retirement goals and dreams.
Having financial independence is a necessity, and the better you are at saving, growing, and protecting your finances, the more comfortable lifestyle you can lead. That’s where budgeting comes in.
What is Budgeting?
Budgeting is the process of creating a plan to spend your money. Using a budget helps you make wise financial decisions. A budget allows you to determine in advance whether you will have enough money to do the things you’d like to do.
Budgeting is about prioritizing spending and focusing your money on the things that are most important to you so that you can make the most of your income. A budget should be compiled and re-evaluated on a periodic basis.
Who Should Budget?
Everyone can benefit from a budget, not just people who are having trouble making ends meet. Having knowledge of your finances, no matter how basic this knowledge is, can put you on the path to maximizing the money you have coming in.
Budgeting is an important step to being financially secure.
You will see things you never saw before, like how to find discount car insurance, and you’ll see new areas of your spending. A close inspection of your finances will allow you to fix any money leaks that might be making a dent in your total savings.
Your budget will help you quickly see if you’re getting richer each month (a surplus of funds) and if you’re not (a deficit), and how you can make adjustments until you’re in a stronger financial position.
How to Budget
Creating a budget doesn’t require any special software and you don’t need an accountant. It’s really just a case of looking at where you are right now and where you want to be. It’s as easy as three steps.
Set your Money Goals
First, work out why you want to do a budget. This will help you decide where you want your money to go. Is the goal to help your child buy their first home or are you wanting to cover the cost of your funeral expenses?
Your goals with your money will play a big part in your budget and in how strict you are in following it.
Track Your Spending
Taking the time to make a note of every dollar you spend can give you a clear view of where your money is going. Start small by recording your spending every day for two weeks or for a more realistic picture, track your spending for a period of two months.
A phone app is an easy way to track your expenses every time you spend.
The next step is to add annual fixed expenses like insurance, bank fees, and car registration. You can then calculate for overlooked and unexpected expenses.
Record Your Income
Make a list of all the money you have coming in and when. This money could be wages, pension, government benefit or payment, or income from investments.
Making the Most of Your Income
A budget done correctly is a precise tool for analyzing your financial situation. Once you know where you’re spending you can start to alter and prioritize what you do with your income.
The earlier you forecast your future, the more time you have to achieve your financial goals. To put your budget into action you will need to make a plan.
The steps of your plan might include:
- Rewarding yourself after a period of time if you’ve stuck to your budget
- Putting your budget in a visible place where you know you’ll see it regularly
- Putting any additional income you receive into your savings to cover unexpected costs
A budget is a test of willpower, but it’s worth it. If you have a savings target in mind then a budget – one you can actually stick to – is a must.
With a budget in tow, it will be harder to overspend when you’re reminded that with each $50 expense, you’re $50 further away from your end goal. It all adds up so it’s time to take control of your finances.