How to Build a Budget
The following budgeting tips can help ensure that you create and maintain financial wellness for yourself. To create a budget, you will need to identify any and all current expenses. You can categorize expenses by determining which are fixed – or stay the same – and which are variable (i.e. clothing, entertainment). Then, determine your take-home pay, or net income. Knowing your income and necessary expenses will enable you to plan accordingly. Tracking your spending is also imperative to creating a budget. Use whatever tools best suit you - a notebook, a spreadsheet, or a Smartphone app – to track your daily spending. This will provide you with invaluable insight on your spending habits that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Armed with this knowledge, you can zero in on any areas of excess in which you could make cuts in spending. Look for ways to reduce and eliminate any unnecessary expenses.
Why Do I Need A Budget?
Do you ever check your bank account and wonder where your money has gone? If so, you are not alone; too many Americans spend their money without keeping careful awareness of specific expenses. If you find yourself spending mindlessly, consider creating a budget. With budgeting, you can take control of your finances and enjoy the satisfaction of truly knowing where your money goes. A budget enables you to take steps to protect yourself and your family from financial misfortune and save money to reach your goals. A budget does not only benefit those struggling with finances, but it is advantageous to anyone who values their hard-earned money and wants to use it as effectively as possible. You may find it easier to stick to your budget when you outline specific financial goals for yourself. Think of what you are budgeting for – whether it be to get out of debt, buy a home, or save for college or retirement – and use that as motivation to stick to your budget.
Many resources exist to help you create and customize a budget based on your personal income, expenses, and needs. A quick web search will yield various tools for you to use, including calculators and downloadable templates, spreadsheets and software. Here are a few resources to get you started:
With mint.com you can input data from your bank and credit account to easily track various transactions in one place. You can also create personalized budgets with savings goals and set reminders for due dates of bill payments. Mint has also developed Smartphone apps to help you track your spending wherever you go.
Financial author Dave Ramsey has downloadable forms available on his website for you to track your expenses and move toward careful and conscious spending. He also has online budgeting software to help you create a basic budget by inputting income, categorizing expenses, and adjusting areas of spending. You can download his free Guide to Budgeting for additional information.