Did you overspend last month? Last year? Have you been overspending longer than you can remember?
It seems hard to stay on a budget these days as prices are on the rise. Could you use a few tips on setting up a budget that works, offers some “breathing room” and allows for savings when those unexpected expenditures pop up?
Know Your Monthly Income
First, you must know your monthly income. If you haven’t begun tracking your income and expenses, now is a good time to start. Next, make a list of all your recurring expenses starting with mortgage, utilities, phone, TV and internet. Add in any other monthly bill such as music or dance lessons, insurance, gas & groceries. It’s a good idea to make allowances for savings and entertainment or eating out. Even if you are only able to add in a small amount each month, it will eventually add up!
If you are not currently saving, try to make that a number one priority right along with paying bills, the mortgage and buying groceries. Dave Ramsey, one of the nation’s leading economic experts, suggests that all families have at least three month’s worth of savings. That means if your family spends $3000 a month on everything, to be safe and secure, it is recommended that you have $9000 in savings just in case you need it. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but the most important thing is to just begin. It may take quite a bit of time to get your savings up to a number that size but if you don’t start, your money can’t build.
It’s important to still have fun while you are living on a budget and as you try to put some money into savings. Look for frugal ways to have some fun with your family. Take strolls through the park, enjoy a picnic or check out a DVD from the library for a family movie night. It’s important to take time out to rest, relax and enjoy the little things in your life! Constantly working and not taking a break may cause you to become overwhelmed and stressed out.
I’d like to encourage you to focus on paying off debts as quickly as possible, if you have them. When you carry debt, you are paying interest. Even if you have a car that happens to be financed, you are most likely paying for additional insurance. Living within your means may seem like a challenge. You may need to focus on asking yourself if you really need a certain item vs. simply wanting it. Can you save for that special item and eventually pay cash for it? Challenge yourself to spend/save money in a new way in 2013.
Cut Cost When and Wherever Possible
Try to cut costs where ever you can, try these areas first: entertainment, groceries and gas. Is it possible to decrease your minutes on your phone plan? Do you need two cars? Do you need that specific size cable package?
Keep crunching the numbers and try to cut out all unnecessary expenses until you are able to achieve a balanced budget. Challenge yourself to stick to that budget and try to save a little bit more each and every month.
We’d love to hear your budgeting stories! Please tell us about your family, how many members in your household, your financial goals and ways you are able to stay on a certain budget. If you could give one piece of advice concerning budgets, what would it be?