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Budgeting 101: Easy Guide on How to Manage Your MoneyFinancial literacy implies controlling money flows, planning and optimizing costs, and keeping a budget. In this article, we will talk about why budgeting and expense tracking are so important, as well as share expert tips on how to stick to a financial plan.
What Is the Purpose of a Budget?It’s a mistake to believe that a budget strategy means only recording income and expenses. It’s important not only to keep a record of every dollar spent or received but also to analyze this information. Adjust your financial habits to stay financially solvent based on the assessment. A high-quality budget planner can help you take into account all the data and draw competent conclusions. Personal budgeting for the month or year has important purposes:
- obtaining reliable information on finances;
- improving financial discipline;
- finding ways to reduce spending;
- formation of an emergency fund;
- setting and achieving goals.
Understand the Budgeting ProcessAs we’ve said, good budgeting is not just a record of all expenses and income. In personal planning, you can follow the same tactics that companies use. The budgeting steps, process, and details may vary depending on your situation. However, you need to define the following basic elements of your global plan:
- Goal. It’s necessary not only to reduce expenses but to understand why you do it. For example, your goal can be a great family vacation abroad;
- Target. It presents a defined goal. For example, you should have a certain amount in five months, which will be enough for the planned vacation;
- Strategy, which shows how you’ll achieve your targets. It can be a reduction in expenses for specific categories or, conversely, an increase in income;
- Performance evaluation. Sticking to a budget might be tricky at first. You need to evaluate how well you are following the developed plan and how much you have managed to save in this time. It also provides you with an opportunity to understand whether you will reach your goals if you continue the same way.
Steps for Creating a BudgetWe’ve covered the importance of making a plan, so let’s move on to the basic steps on how to prepare a budget. Each person or family has different needs, but the process is approximately the same. You can stick to the main recommendations and adjust the nuances depending on your current situation. So, what is the first step in setting up a budget? Step 1: Calculate income First of all, you need to understand how much money you have at your disposal every month. You need to add salary and other sources of income (babysitting or child support) and then subtract taxes and mandatory deductions like retirement plans. Step 2: Estimate expenses Now you need to understand where exactly your money goes. The easiest way to determine costs is to use bank statements. However, if you pay with cash, you might miss out on some spending. Trackers like Saldo Finance empower you to link your bank account and make entries on cash manually. Step 3: Set goals Your goals should be realistic and achievable in the current conditions. They can be short-term (several years) and long-term (decades). Clearly formulated targets will help you understand exactly how and in what time frame you can reach them. Step 4: Analyze the data Your income should exceed your expenses; in this case, your financial situation can be stable. To achieve your objectives, you have two options: either reduce spending on “wishes” or increase income. Step 5: Review the budget The last step in creating a budget is not final actually. You should regularly review and adjust the plan as your financial situation changes. This way, you can understand that you are not out of schedule. If you hit one goal, create a new budget for the next one.
How to Be on a Budget and Don’t Spend Extra?Here are some wise budgeting tips to help you manage money efficiently and save to meet your objectives:
- Make a budget every month because they are always different in terms of finances. Before the new school year, you need to buy new supplies for kids, and with Christmas ahead, there is always a lot of spending on gifts;
- Try not to use credit cards. They create the feeling of having money; although, in fact, they are not at your full disposal;
- Get a card with cashback and other bonus programs to regularly return part of your expenses;
- Do not save on medical examinations and monitor your health. A sudden illness or an exacerbation of a chronic disease can seriously undermine your financial stability.
- Limit your scrolling through social media and online stores, as ads increase the likelihood of impulsive purchases;
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t manage to stick to the plan right away. Experts say that getting used to the budget takes about three months on average.