October 02, 2015
Learning to Budget
Having a budget – and sticking to it – can be one of the best things you can do for your financial future. By ensuring you are not spending more than you earn and living beyond your means, you are increasing your ability to reach your financial goals. A good monthly budget can help you pay your bills on time, have funds available in an emergency, or provide a cushion in the event of a hardship.
Although many people already plan their spending according to a budget, the majority often spend more than they can afford. The key to spending within your means is being aware of your expenses and spending less than you earn
The simple steps below will help you get a clear picture of your monthly finances and create a budget.
Add It Up
To set a monthly budget, you need to know how much income you have. Write down all relevant income sources, such as salaries, interest, pensions, or any other income. Include your spouse or partner's income as well, if applicable.
If you receive a salary, make sure to use your take home pay as opposed to your gross pay. Taxes are usually taken automatically, but if yours are not, make sure to include applicable taxes as an expense.
Keep track of how much you spend for one month in both fixed and flexible expenses. Fixed expenses are those that generally do not change month-to-month, like rent, mortgage, or insurance payments.Flexible expenses, like food and entertainment, vary each month. If some of your expenses vary greatly every month, take an average of that expense over the course of three months to get an estimate for your budget.
What's The Difference?
Once you've figured out your total monthly income and your total monthly expenses, subtract your expenses from your total income to get the difference. A positive number means you're living within your means. A negative number means you're living beyond your means, and need to trim your expenses to live within your means.
Now you can track your budget over time to make sure you stick to it. If you find you aren't able to stick to your budget successfully, your plan may need some more flexibility. Revisit your budget as needed to find the balance that keeps your balance positive and your financial goals in sight!