October 9, 2019 • 5 mins
Do you ever wonder where your money goes each month? Does it seem like you're never able to get ahead? If so, you may want to make a budget to help you keep track of how you spend your money and help you reach your financial goals.
A budget, or if you want to use a more positive name, a spending plan, is a tool to help you take charge of your spending on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It's the process of identifying your current monthly income and expenses, your spending habits and aligning them with your financial goals. A budget is a way to keep money from slipping away unnoticed, allowing you to take charge of decisions such as what to buy, when to buy it, and why.
A budget allows you to take charge of decisions such as what to buy, when to buy it, and why."
To make sure that you're not forgetting anything, it may help to look through canceled checks, credit card bills, and other receipts from the past year. Finally, as you list your expenses, it is important to remember your financial goals. Whenever possible, treat your goals as expenses and contribute toward them regularly.
If you find yourself spending more than you earn, you'll need to make some adjustments. Look at your expenses closely and cut down on your discretionary spending. If you have selected financial goals, such as paying off credit card balances or saving for retirement, do the math on how to adjust your spending to fund the goal.
And remember, if you do find yourself coming up short, don't worry! All it will take is some determination and a little self-discipline, and you'll eventually get it right.
If you are spending too much, there are several ways to cut back. One approach is to work on changing your spending habits. Suppose you are spending too much money on particular items (such as clothing) or spending more money at certain times of the month (near payday). By being aware of those habits, you can make appropriate changes. You may also try shopping smarter and reducing restaurant and/or entertainment expenses. Another option is to downsize to a less expensive car or home to reduce spending.
You may also reduce spending by reducing the cost of your debt. One way is to consolidate or refinance high-interest loans. As mentioned, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, but make a few changes. In time, you may be able to bring your spending under control.
To stay on budget, you must always have enough money coming in. There are a number of ways to increase your income if you need to. You might ask for a raise, take a higher-paying job, take a second job (maybe one from home), or turn a hobby into a business. You can also see if you have any household items or asset you’d like to sell.
Source: Broadridge Financial Solutions, accessed June 14, 2019.
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