The 411 on Creating a Budget

An alarming two-thirds of Americans do not have a budget in place.  Unfortunately, managing money is not something that most learn while growing up.  Maintaining a home budget can reduce stress and allow you to live within your means.  Start today by reading how to create a budget.

What is a Budget, and Why is it so Important? LastPass – Family or Org Password Vault

Let’s all agree being an adult is hard.  Can I get an amen?  Life can get overwhelming, and we can become consumed by how much we have to do on a day-to-day basis.  Finding the time to manage your money and create a budget can seem like the last thing on your to-do list.  First, let’s take an honest look at what a budget is.  A budget is a spending plan for your money. It is an itemized list of where your money is going and a balance of your expenses and income.  This allows you to track how you spend your money, correct any errors, and plan for the future.  Creating a budget is vital so that you know you are not spending more than you are earning.  Those that have budgets are much more financially secure than those that don’t.  Managing your money well can prevent you from going into unforeseen debt and also allow you to have money left over to do what you’ve always wanted to do.  Plus, once you have created a budget, you will feel empowered.  You will have much more control over your spending and feel a sense of ease instead of living your life paycheck to paycheck.

Take an Honest Look at Your Income and Expenses

The first thing you are going to need to do is to get organized.  If possible, gather all your information, such as pay stubs, receipts, monthly bills, credit card statements, savings accounts, student loans, etc. If your income is not steady from month to month, you will want to calculate an estimate of the average income you are making so that you have a clear picture of what you are bringing to the table.  Go back six months to give yourself a conservative estimate of what you can expect.  If you have a joint account with a spouse or a partner, your budget will be much more successful if you do this together.  CorpNet. Start A New Business Now

Next, make a list of all the necessary expenses that you are responsible for every month.  These will be items such as mortgage/rent, utilities, car payment, childcare, average grocery bills, and cell phone bills.  Open up your checking account online to see if you’ve missed anything.  It can be easy to overlook something, such as bills automatically debited from your account.  Once you’ve created this list, come up with a total, and note these are your priorities.  These are the expenses that you must pay first before spending on anything else.  Now, subtract this total from your monthly income.  What you have left, if anything, will be most important in creating your spending plan.  Knowing how much you have left over each month after the prioritized items are deducted will allow you to see the truth about where your money is going.

Take Control of Your Spending Habits

Now that you have taken an honest look at how much you are making and what your essential expenses are, let’s see where the rest of that money is going.  The fact is, most of us don’t know why we keep coming up on empty each month when we are making a decent earning.  Let’s go back three months and jot down all your extra expenses, such as eating out, entertainment, and shopping.  These are what we would call luxury items.  Purchases that may seem small at the time can add up.  Here’s where you can feel empowered.  Take a look at reality and decide how much you have to spend on these luxury items.  Do you need to eat at home more?  Or perhaps, cut back on those extra Target trips?  You can get out of control when you don’t know how much you have to spend.  Categorize these items and compare them with how much you have left in the bank.  Conservatively decide how much you would like to spend on these categories and put a cap on them so that you know you are not overspending.  Then, consider how much you would like to save each month and where you would like that money to go.

Time to Take Action with a Budget Planner Download A Free Financial Toolkit

There are several ways that you can keep track of your budget now that you know how and where you are spending your money.  Honestly, looking online for a budget spreadsheet can be overwhelming because there are so many options out there.  It can be challenging to determine which is best for you.  Keep in mind that this should be an easy process.  If you make it too complicated, you are far more likely to fall off the wagon and get distracted.  So, keep it simple and easy so that you can maintain it daily.  Here are three recommended ways to manage your budget with ease and comfort.

  1. Microsoft Excel.  If you happen to own Microsoft Excel already, this is a wonderful way to create a budget.  Numerous preset budget templates are user-friendly and, best of all, free.  Choose the budget spreadsheet that is right for you.  Entering your information is easy and will allow you to track your spending each month.  
  2. Budgeting Phone apps.  The saying is true: there is an app for everything.  There are a variety of different apps that allow you to enter and keep track of your budget daily.  Some are free, and some come with a fee.  We will look at and compare some of the best apps in another article.  
  3.  If you want to get sophisticated, Quicken is a household finance bookkeeping software that allows you to track your spending, and investments, and save for the future.  This will allow you to dig in and get to the nitty-gritty.  It can also be much more detailed, so it is up to you how much time and energy you want to spend on creating your budget.

You’re all set and on your way to creating a budget!  While managing money takes a little time and effort, in the long run, it sets you up for a more financially secure future.  Congratulations!   

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