Do you have a budget? Did you know that most people don’t have a budget, and even those who do don’t stick to it? Budgeting is incredibly important to you and your family’s financial stability. It helps you to spend wisely, live frugally, and be less stressed out in the long run. Today, we’re going to look at 4 quick steps to starting a budget.
- Figure out what you make per month. First and foremost, you can’t work backwards. You need to have at least an estimate of what you make per month after taxes. Yes, I know you make $12 an hour on your contract, but you know as well as I do that you don’t bring that home. Look at your past paystubs and round down to the nearest dollar to see what you’re bringing in and to make up for those months you may make less due to holidays and/or sick days.
- Split your spending into categories. Sit down and figure out what you spend money on. Some examples could be: bills (which I would separate by the bill, especially because some of them don’t change), groceries, credit card/loan/mortgage payments, savings, giving, child care, whatever you spend money on, put it here. This also includes recreational activities – too many people don’t budget for fun and end up spending way more than they intend to!
- Prioritize and analyze your spending. Prioritize it. What must get paid every month? Is there a way to reduce my spending? Can you drive less, change your insurance plan, use less electricity, become a couponing guru, and/or be more aware of discounts? Then do it! And stick to it; don’t get lazy and just start buying things because you want them. Take time, analyze how much you’re spending on what, and try to fix it if at all possible. Yes, that may seem like a pain, but in the long run, it’ll help you stick with your budget.
- Make sure to save, too! Please do not make the mistake that many people (including myself) have done. Make sure a portion of your income is going directly into savings.
To help with this, some people ascribe to what’s called the 80-10-10 plan. 80 percent for living expenses, 10 percent for saving, 10 percent for whatever else. Some people use it for giving to charity or for church, others save it toward a house, vehicle or other large purchase. This helps accumulate money that is specifically for that purpose, without saying “we’ll save for it someday.” Save for it now if you can.
Budgeting isn’t as big of a bear as it seems. Sure, it’s a little more than what I have here, but these steps are a fine start to the beginning of a beautiful relationship with your income and your future. Have a great weekend!