Creating a budget is relatively straightforward, when you know how to do it. There are endless suggestions out there, but for now, let’s discuss 9 tips on setting a budget. You don’t have to do without the things you like to live well if you are careful. Budgeting can even make you feel slightly more abundant after you start sticking to it, because you are using the money you have much more wisely. Follow this method to set your budget and then work toward perfecting your plan for maximum savings.
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#1 Track Your Spending for a Month
- When you first start making a conscious effort to save, don’t change a thing. Instead, begin tracking your spending.
- If you spent less than usual this month, use a six to eight month average to get started with your realistic budget.
#2 Add Up All Your Current Expenses
- Now add up all your expenses, including your ordinary household expenses like mortgage, and your credit card bills too.
- This will tell you what you spend each month.
#3 Add Up Your Current After-Tax Income
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- Now you want to add up how much you make each month on average. If you make more some months than others, include that.
- For example, if you get paid every two weeks, there are two months when you get an extra pay date.
#4 Set Your Bill Pay-Down Goals
- Once you see your consumer debt and your regular living expenses all in one place, you want to set some pay-down goals so that you can get out from under credit debt.
- It’s really more important to pay that credit down than it is to save for a possible emergency due to interest savings. Also, start looking for ways to save.
#5 Set Your Savings Goals
- Most people need short-term, long-term, and yes, retirement savings. What you want to save now depends on where you are. If you are already retired, your savings will more than likely be for short-term and semi-long-term needs. Examples are paying for a new roof, buying a new car, or paying for a nice vacation or possibly medical expenses.
#6 Adjust Your Numbers
- Once you see what you really spent, if you can still save money living exactly as you have, then keep it the same.
- If you are overspending and relying on credit, change the numbers in order to avoid that situation.
#7 Keep Records and Track Your Progress
- Once you have it all set up, simply follow what you set.
- Every week or whatever period works for you, double-check that you are sticking to your budget so that you do not go over it.
#8 Be Realistic
- When you set your budget, it is important that you are super-realistic about it. If you hate cooking, don’t set up a plan that requires you to cook daily. If you do, you are probably not going to stick to it.
- Craft a custom plan that fits your personality.
#9 Work toward the 50/20/30 Budget Rule
- If you ever go to debt counseling, you will learn about the 50/20/30 budget rule, which they should teach everyone in high school.
- The way this budget works is that you set aside 50 percent of your after-tax income to pay for all your needs such as groceries, housing, utilities, health insurance, car payment, water, and doctor bills. 20 percent goes to savings, while 30 percent goes to wants such as shopping, dining out, and any type of hobbies you enjoy.
- If you have credit card debt, you should take it from your wants due to the interest you must pay back.
Setting a budget simply requires that you write down all of your expenditures on everything you desire and need to purchase, from housing to health care to entertainment. Quite simply, If you have a shortfall in your budget, you need to either cut the budget items down a bit or make more money.