How To Create A Budget That Works
I was always a poor money manager through most of my early life. Like a lot of young people, I lived for the moment.
If there was money left on a credit card then it should be used. If they all ran out of money just fill out an application for another one.
Suddenly you realize all your money is going to pay for stuff with interest that you could have gotten for much less had you only budgeted and paid cash for them.
Creating a budget might seem like a daunting task at the beginning, but it’s actually pretty easy and can be easily adjusted as situations change.
Where To Start
I created mine in an Excel spreadsheet. I started with all the known payments for the month. List your mortgage or rent, any healthcare or insurance, credit cards, utilities, car payment, student loans, etc.
Always, always, always, pay more than the minimum on credit cards even if it’s just a couple of dollars more. Pick the one with the lowest balance and attack paying off that one first.
How much do you spend on groceries, gas, lunches and other impulse spending? List as many things as you can think of. You don’t have to put dollar amounts with each one yet, just make sure you have them listed.
List all sources of income. Your paychecks, any work done on the side, part time jobs, or seasonal work.
Creating Your Budget
List your total income at the top of the page and start allocating payments. Add and subtract amounts to make sure everyone gets a payment and see if you have anything left.
If you have more outgo than income then what can you cut out of your budget? Can you carpool, bike to work, bring lunch from home rather than eating out at work?
If you have medical bills call the creditor and see if you can adjust or pay monthly.
You should have a small surplus added in for things like car repairs or other emergencies. This is untouchable money no matter how bad things get you can’t use it until your next payday.
If you get paid twice a month, call your creditors and see if your payment due date can be adjusted to pay half your credit cards out of one paycheck and others out of the next pay.
Reducing debt is the same as getting a raise in pay. As you pay off one credit card add that amount to the amount you are paying for the next card. They will start to fall like dominoes.
Some Final Thoughts
During the first couple of months you budget is probably going to be way off because there are expenses you forgot to add in or unexpected events came up.
But over time you will keep refining the budget and you will discover that after a time you actually start having a few bucks left after all the bills are paid.
It’s a pretty good feeling.
The point is - stick with it until you get your expenses, income and lifestyle under control.
Knowing you have the money allocated to service your debt takes a lot of strain off your life and family. Money is a tool, nothing more. Use it wisely and make it work for you not against you.
Once debt is retired, it’s time to pay start paying yourself. Get serious with a retirement plan no matter what age you happen to be. It’s never too late to save.