Let’s face it – most of us are not self-made millionaires nor were we born into a rich family that can spend money on whatever our heart desires. We have to learn to budget our money. It’s a part of life.
Budgeting takes discipline, especially if you are a ‘spender’. It may be easier for you if you are a ‘penny pincher’. Neither of these are necessarily wrong, as long as there is a balance; important to not spend more than you make, but also enjoy life and indulge once in a while and do fun things.
We must learn to spend less than we make. This can be frustrating at times, because there will always be something we need or want. Saving up for those things we want can take time, but it will also determine how badly you really want that item.
When you live within your means, by following a budget each month, you won’t overspend. When you don’t overspend, you don’t incur a lot of debt. When you’re not bogged down with debt payments each month, you have money that you can use to pursue your other life and financial goals.
If you have a difficult time sticking to your budget, it’s always good to be accountable to someone. Find someone you know and trust who manages their finances well.
If you do have debt (credit cards, loans, etc.) start with paying off the smallest debt first. Then put that amount of money from that debt onto the next debt until it’s paid off, and so on.
You should also reward yourself after paying off a debt – buy yourself a little something (nothing extravagant) like that sweater at the store you’ve had your eye on, or get a massage or facial. Rewarding yourself with a small indulgence keeps you motivated to continue to reach your goals.
Below is a link to a worksheet you can use to help you budget.
Although, everyone’s financial situation is different, every category may not apply to your income or spending. Though a monthly budget is the most reasonable time frame to set up an initial budget, there may be expenses that do not follow a monthly schedule. For example, you may receive a paycheck every week or every two weeks, not once a month. Therefore, you would calculate how that adds up over one month’s time. You may also have certain expenses that occur more or less often than monthly. To account for those expenses (like car insurance), simply calculate the total expense for the calendar year and divide that by 12 to find the ‘monthly’ expense.
Once you’ve completed the worksheet, if you find at the end of the month you are spending more than you are bringing in, it may be time to take a look at where you are spending your money, and adjust those areas to make up the difference.
If you find you have money left over every month, you have the opportunity to decide what to do with that extra cash. You can build up your emergency fund, contribute more to your retirement, pay off loans faster, or save up for a large purchase.