Whether you’re frustrated with always finding your bank account lower than you expected, or you just want to get a handle on where all your money is going, learning how to create a budget that works for you is the best way to start.
Budgeting can be stressful, irritating, and even seem impossible at times. I get it. But the good news is, it’s not impossible. It may still be stressful and irritating while you are starting out, but if you keep going at it and filling out your budget, it will get easier, and you will be so grateful you started when you did.
Budgeting is such an important part of life. It helps you keep track of how much of your money is going where after it comes into your bank account, and is one of the most important steps to saving money.
If you were just looking for some simple money-saving tips today and budgeting never crossed your mind, I’m here to tell you that:
BUDGETING MIGHT JUST BE THE MOST IMPORTANT FIRST STEP YOU TAKE TO SAVING MONEY.
There are thousands upon thousands of uniquely different ways out there to keep track of your budget. From apps on your smartphone to old-fashioned pen and paper. While there is nothing wrong with the apps, I believe that we should all be able to keep track of our budget on good old fashioned paper.
I have tried those smartphone budget apps and failed miserably. I don’t believe that it’s the app’s fault, but rather my own. I had a harder time remembering to keep up with my budget when it was on my phone, rather than paper right in front of my face.
I like that on paper I can scribble things out or jot things down in random places if I need to make notes.
If at first budgeting isn’t working out for you, don’t give up. Budgeting is something to be learned, it doesn’t come naturally to most people. If you stick with it and keep practising your budget even through the rough patches, you’re bound to get the hang of it.
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HOW TO CREATE A BUDGET THAT WORKS FOR YOU
1. WRITE DOWN YOUR MONTHLY NET INCOME
If you have a set salary that doesn’t change from month to month, figuring out your net monthly income will be easy. But, if your income fluctuates from month to month, this might be a bit more tricky.
If you have a fluctuating income, I suggest writing down the minimum amount you will make, just to be on the safe side. It’s always better to come out of the month with money to spare than in the minuses.
2. WRITE DOWN YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
If you have any financial goals you hope to achieve, take note of them and write them down so you don’t forget.
Whether you want to set a long-term goal like saving for retirement, or you want to challenge yourself to save $500 by the months end.
Setting financial goals is a great way to motivate yourself to keep on track and spend less money.
3. WRITE DOWN ALL YOUR FIXED MONTHLY BILLS AND EXPENSES
Here you are going to write down your fixed monthly bills and expenses. These would be things like your mortgage, insurances, phone bills, and any other bills that are fixed and don’t fluctuate from month to month.
I have provided a list of most of the essential bills and expenses an average person will have every month, but expenses will be unique to each person.
- Utilities (Electricity, water, gas)
- Home phone
- Cell phone
- Property taxes
- Life insurance
- Health insurance
- Car insurance
- Home insurance
- Student loans
- Car payments
4. WRITE DOWN ALL YOUR FLUCTUATING MONTHLY EXPENSES
Here you will write down the expenses that change from month to month, but you still spend money on every month.
These could include things like,
- Pet supplies
- Bus passes
NOW YOU KNOW YOUR AVERAGE MONTHLY INCOME AND YOUR AVERAGE MONTHLY EXPENSES.
5. FIGURE OUT WHAT PERCENT OF YOUR MONTHLY INCOME SHOULD GO INTO EACH CATEGORY OF SPENDING
6. FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH YOU CAN SPEND EACH MONTH
From your net monthly income and the percentages for each category on the free printable that I have provided, fill in the blanks and you be able to see exactly how much you can spend each month on certain things to ensure you come out with money to spare.
7. BRING DOWN YOUR BILLS
This step is super important in any budget, even if you have crunched all the numbers and you’re coming out of the month with extra money, you could be saving even more by doing a few simple things.
You will especially want to do this if you are coming out in the minuses at the end of the month.
- LOWER YOUR PHONE BILL
Did you know that there is a very good chance you could be paying less for your phone bill than you are now? Simply call your phone service provider and ask if they have any promotions going on, or any cheaper rates for your plan.
A lot of places will also offer loyalty discounts, so if you have been with them for quite some time, give them a quick call and they will most likely shave some money off your monthly bill.
- GIVE UP CABLE
This one might be a hard one! My husband and I decided right from the get-go that we weren’t going to spend money on cable. So yes, we’ve been living for quite some time with no cable. And guess what? We’re doing just fine.
If you need to start saving some more money, one of the easiest things you can do is cancel your cable. There are many cheaper options out there that allow you to still watch movies and TV shows. Netflix and Hulu are two popular options.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
Rather than buying books and movies, get a library card and grab books and movies from there. It’s free, and you’re not risking losing money if the book or movie you want to buy ends up not being a disappointment.
- REDUCE INTEREST RATES
If you have interest racking up on your credit cards, first thing’s first, it might be time to chop them up. Then, call the credit card provider and ask if they have any way that you could lower your interest rate for a while.
8. CREATE AN EMERGENCY FUND
Emergency funds are important things to have, and if you don’t have one, you should certainly work on creating one as soon as possible.
Emergency funds are just that – in case of an emergency.
If something happens and you have to take time off of work, emergency funds will help tide you over.
9. LOOK OVER YOUR BUDGET AND CHECK IT TWICE
Make sure you have included all your bills, and you have the correct amount of income written down. The last thing you’d want is to put all that hard work in, only to find out you entered a wrong number somewhere and threw off the rest of your budget.
10. STICK TO IT
Now that you’ve printed and filled out your spiffy new budget, that was the easy part. The hard part is making sure you stick to it. Don’t cheat and don’t push it off to the side. Make sure you stick to your budget, even if it’s difficult.
Remember that practice makes perfect and you will get the hang of managing a budget in no time.
You are now fully equipped to create a budget that works for you and your lifestyle. If you stick to your budget, you will find financial freedom and your savings will grow and continue to grow. The feeling of accomplishment you get should be encouraging enough to keep you going. You’ve got this!
What are a few of your favorite ways to stick to your budget? Are you a regular budgeter, or is this your first time? How do you like to create a budget that you can stick to? I’d love to hear from you – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or by sending me an email!