The word “budget” is known to make people shudder, thrash, and want to bury their heads in the sand, but budget challenges do not have to stop you from planning. Budgets are just a set of guidelines to help you manage your money. (The basics of budgeting will help you get started.) Once you’ve set up your system, your budget will not be as laborious. If yours is not working for you then start over. But do not be interrupted by challenges that you can easily overcome.
1. The Mentality of All or Nothing
Many people are “disenchanted” by the budget because most advice on how to create one requires tracking every penny spent for three months. That is, a lot of savings receipts and other expenses, which can be very labor intensive, especially if you are not using an automatic system. The key point of a budget is to get a view of your expenses and plan your financial goals – in other words, if tracking every penny is an obstacle to getting you started, simply do not write down each expense. The perfect is definitely the enemy of the good.
Having a general idea of your income and important expenses is a good first step towards creating a budget. Common categories of expenses include:
Telephone / Internet
Beware of children
Loans or debt
If you count what you spend for each of these categories (or what you would like to spend) – and the result is greater than your income – then it is good to keep track of your large categories of expenses and set aside dinner at restaurants or impulse buying. In that case, you need to re-evaluate and set a more rigorous budget.
2. Intensive Tracking
As mentioned above, common budget tracking requires you to keep track of all your receipts and expenses for several months. You can do this on paper or in a spreadsheet, but there are easier ways. There are a variety of applications and programs that will track your spending, which can help you create a budget and watch progress toward your financial goals.
Search and download the top 5 personal finance applications for a list of free first-line tools to try out. In different ways, these applications monitor your bank accounts, credit card transactions, and even investments and retirement planning. Some also allow you to set spending goals.
3. Pay cash
It has been found that people who use money instead of credit spend less overall. The big hurdle is that spending money makes a tight budget very challenging because, in order to track your spending, you need to manually record the receipts. There are a few ways to keep a budget while avoiding credit cards.
One method is known as the “envelope” method. You take the money from your bank earlier this month and divide it into envelopes. When the shopping envelope is empty, you will only have this in the month (though you can always borrow from the other envelopes in an emergency). A more favorable alternative is to organize your wallet by attaching a sticky note designating for which purpose that money will be used. Obviously, some monthly bills will be paid directly from your bank account.
A less complicated version of this method requires designating a specific cash amount for variable expenses and miscellaneous purchases and putting it in one place. Instead of crawling every cup of coffee or dinner, use your cash on hand to guide your overhead. The fund can be designed for any length of time that works best for you: weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Just coordinate it with the big monthly bills. This second approach can also work with a debit card if you carefully follow what you spend.
The budget can seem daunting, labor-intensive and challenging. However, the most important thing to remember is that it is a tool for you, and if you miss a month, you can try again the next. And do not be afraid to change your budget if it is not working. Use the above tips and you will be on the right track to find a financial plan that fits into your lifestyle.