Making and sticking to a budget is a key step towards getting a handle on your personal finances. Getting started can be the hardest part, especially if it feels out of your control.
Follow these easy steps to create a budget that works for you:
Step 1: Figure out where your money comes from. The first place to start is getting a complete picture of where your money comes from. You may be self-employed, have multiple jobs or receive child support—all of these sources should be factor considered.
Step 2: Figure out where your money goes. Equally important is logging your spending so you get a realistic picture of where the money is going. Look at your expenses one week at a time by either reviewing your receipts or checking account. You could also start a daily log of your expenses so you’re making sure to capture those small expenses that add up over time.
Step 3: Determine what bills you have and their due dates. If you’re coming up short at the end of the month, it could be that the timing for your bills and income don’t match. Create a bill calendar to help you remember when your bills are due and note when you need to be careful about your spending.
Step 4: Create your working budget. Find a budget worksheet online that pulls everything together so you have a working and realistic budget. Update your budget if you experience a change in employment or spending habits.
You can also consider the following tips for successful budgeting:
Create a tool that works for you. Create a way that’s easy for you to track income and spending in real time. This could be a daily journal, an app on your phone or putting receipts in a folder that you review at the end of each week.
Analyze your spending habits. This is an opportunity to take a comprehensive look at your spending, and it is also the easiest way to look for areas where you can cut back. If you know you’re prone to impulse spending, create a plan to help you limit that spending.
Set goals for yourself. Whether it’s small or large, it’s helpful to have an end goal and something you’re working towards. Rewarding yourself, even in small ways, can help you keep up with any progress you’ve made.
Develop a support system. Like sticking to an exercise routine, it’s easier when you’re surrounded by families and friends you can trust to offer you support, either by doing a budget with you or listening when you’re struggling.
Behavioral Health Systems is the parent company of Safety First. BHS offers Mental Health and Substance Abuse benefits to employers along with Employee Assistance Programs.