Anyone who’s hoping to gain a bit more control when it comes to their spending and start working towards their financial goals needs a budget. A household or personal budget is simply an itemized summary of your income and your expenses for a set period of time. It will show you how much money you might earn and all of your expenses from things like rent to entertainment and more. It should be used to achieve any financial goals you might have.
Here’s a quick look at how to create that budget.
Make a List of Expenses
Make a detailed list of any expenses you expect to have for the month. Include things like college or retirement savings, student loans, dry cleaning, entertainment, utilities, groceries, car insurance, car payments, mortgage payments and/or rent. Some things, you might be able to save a bit of money on too. For example, getting a few auto/car insurance quotes might show you how to save on that expenditure.
Get All of Your Financial Statements
This might include things like any documents regarding sources of expenses or income, recent utility bills, investment accounts and bank statements. You’ll need to record all of your sources of income as well.
Break Expenses Down
Expenses can be broken down into two main categories – variable and fixed. Fixed expenses are those that mainly stay the same each month and are necessary to your way of living. These can be things like credit card payments, trash pickup, cable and internet, utilities, rent or mortgage, and car and insurance payments.
The variable expenses will change from one month to the next and might be things like gifts, eating out, entertainment, gas, and groceries. There are quite a few budgeting apps and personal finance tools that can help with discerning which expense should fall into which category and how to manage them.
Total Expenses and Income
If your end total for your expenses is more than your income, you need to take a look at where you can start saving money. If the opposite is true, you’re off to a good start. It means that you’ll be able to prioritize the extra money to a variety of areas in your budget, like paying off your credit cards or larger contributions to your retirement accounts.
If you happen to find yourself in a place where your expenses exceed your income, you need to take a hard look at each of your variable expenses to locate areas where cuts can be made. Since these types of expenses tend to be non-essential, it can be easy to save a few bucks in multiple areas in order to bring your expenses nearer to where your income is.
It’s critical that you review your budget on a monthly basis to ensure that you’re on track. This is easily done by sitting down and comparing your actual expenses of the month to what you had planned for in your previous budget. This shows you where you might need to tweak it a bit to stay on course.
Keeping a monthly budget and sticking to it can bring you out of debt and closer to your financial goals.