No matter where you are in your life or what financial stability you have, a budget is invaluable. You never know what life will throw at you, so it’s vital to be prepared. Being aware of how much money you’re spending each month and being able to work toward tangible financial goals helps you better manage your money now and also prepare yourself for the future. Follow these tips to create a budget that actually works and helps you keep your finances in order.
Track your expenses
The first step to take is to figure out just how much you spend. Take a few weeks or a month or two and track your expenses. Figure out what consistent payments you’re making and where you’re spending money on something you don’t necessarily need. Once you have an idea of your expenses, you can see where you can cut back or where you can spend a little bit more.
Be honest with yourself
Taking a frank look at how much money you spend each month can be stressful, especially if you know that you overspend on something you don’t need, such as clothing or going out to restaurants and bars. Think about how much money you’re bringing in each month and then make sure you aren’t spending more than that amount.
Automate as much as possible
If you have monthly payments, like rent, a car loan, or debt from college, automate those payments each month. You can also automate credit card payments and other recurring expenses. This way, you pay off those obligations first and avoid overspending and not having enough money to pay for what you really need.
Make some goals
If you want your budget to succeed, you need to make concrete goals. Determine how much money you can spend each month in a variety of categories. Account for every last dollar you’ll be receiving so you can avoid overspending. Try to take into account anything you might need to spend money on, such as a medical issue, purchasing gifts for a holiday, or something for your house.
Find out what works for you
There are different ways you can keep track of your budget, so find out which way works best for you. You may prefer using an app on your phone, tracking everything in a spreadsheet, or physically writing your budget and expenses down. You might also find that a combination of a variety of these options works best for you; whatever helps you stick to your budget, use that method!
Every so often, take time to reevaluate your budget. You may have underestimated how much you spend in one area or you might pay off a loan and have extra money to spend. Every six months or so, sit down and see how you’ve been spending your money and if you need to make any changes.