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Building a budget that works with our goals and income is often harder than it sounds. Finding the motivation to dig into the fine details of your finances or sticking to a budget can be difficult .
But, a little preparation, understanding of your income and expenses, and a splash of incentive will make building a budget that works for you a lot more manageable. Lowering expenses by making a packed lunch or finding an affordable renters insurance plan will all help you to save more. Below are more ways how.
Understand Your Finances
A budget should work for you at each stage of your life and support your goals. Begin by keeping track of all your spending for at least one month. In doing so, you will begin to see patterns emerge and spot areas where you can make savings.
There are a range of budgeting apps that can help you do this, but don’t feel obligated to download digital help. Each time you use your card or pay in cash, the transaction can easily be recorded on paper, in a spreadsheet, or tracked through one of the major bank’s apps just as efficiently.
What is important is that you remember to input every transaction that month, both expenditure and income. That even includes the money you made selling your old bike on eBay.
Analyze Your Incomings and Outgoings
Now that you have the data you need, you’ll be able to easily spot if you are living within your means and where you can curb your spending.
It is advisable to do two rounds of cuts. Necessities such as rent, insurance, or your monthly electricity bill have to be met, so focus on the things you are paying for, but don’t really need. Cancelling the subscription to a magazine you never get time to read, or skipping your coffee one morning a week could amount to a few hundred dollars per year.
If this brings you within your income limits it’s still a good idea to make a second sweep of expenses and trim them even more to increase savings and free up cash for emergencies.
You could save money by forgoing your morning coffee shop stop and investing in an at-home coffee machine so you can make one to take with you. Even making sure you remember to turn lights and heating off when you’re not using them can save you money each month.
If you find your expenses surpass your earnings, it is vital you cut back further. Serious debt can have far reaching impacts on future credit options, health, and mental wellbeing. Once you’ve pared back your spending, it’s time to start thinking about your dreams and goals.
Ongoing Financial Goals
Understanding how to adjust your expenditure to fit your income will give you insight into how much money you have to support your short-, mid-, and long-term goals. You may wish to purchase the expensive shoes you’ve lusted after, get a new car, or save for a comfortable retirement. Each of these goals will require a slightly different savings strategy to achieve it.
Be reasonable with your goals and place some of your excess income into savings. Put some into a long-term investment fund if you are thinking about retirement and keep a portion in your regular account for unexpected costs. Revise your goals regularly and update your strategy according to what you wish to achieve.
Tweak As Needed
Budgets aren’t set in stone; they need to adjust with your lifestyle and evolving needs and wants. As one goal is reached you should set others. If your income changes, adjustments to your expenditure may need to occur.
If your budget simply isn’t working for you and it’s still difficult to make ends meet each month, you may need to consider a lifestyle change, like taking on more work or reconsidering your essentials. Regularly check your budget and adjust it to suit you so that you’re sure your finances are working as hard as you are.