Last June I created the Frequently Asked Questions on Saving Money post. I am happy with the positive response that post is receiving. Today I wanted to created another collection of question and answer but this time focusing on Budgeting. The goal is again give you a closer look on how you should budget your money whether as a beginner or pro.
Budget remains as the fundamental lesson in personal finance. Everyone no matter what age, gender, living status, salary should and must learn how to budget. Let’s take a look on the common questions people ask and the answers I came up with.
WHAT IS A BUDGET AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
A budget works as itemized overview of your income and expenses done for a certain period of time. This is done mostly every end of the month in preparation to the coming month but can either be weekly, quarterly and/or yearly too. A budget keep track of your spending patterns, record your income and determine whether you are spending more than you should be.
Creating a budget is important for it ensures positive cash flow for you and your family’s needs. Budget also makes you learn to live within your means keeping you out of debt. Having a budget as a habit will enable you to understand your spending habits or how much you are making and spending. It will also help you stop living from paycheck to paycheck because you have exact allocation of your money. Lastly, a budget will help you big time in building your savings whether for an emergency fund or retirement fund.
HOW DO I CREATE A BUDGET?
All of us have created a budget once whether it’d be for a vacation or grocery shopping etc. Creating a budget is actually very easy…its committing to it that’s hard. Budget involves tough choices to make all ends meet and it is your responsibility to make one.
Step 1 is to choose your system
Are you more of a pen and paper kind of person or you love using apps for your budget? You need to identify which budget system applies to you.
Step 2 is to know your net income
If you’re employed this will be your take home pay less government fees and taxes. This money will act as your baseline.
Step 3 is to gather your budget categories
Budget categories refer to the items where you’ll allocate your money. This includes Tithe, bill, house rent, food grocery, etc. It is important to have a the budget category that works for you. Keep it as simple as possible so you won’t go crazy budgeting every end of the month.
Step 4 is to know your spending percentage
I recommend you use the 50-20-30 Rule of Budgeting to calculate how much of your income goes to each category. You can also use other budget allocation depending on your comfort level. If you are curious about the 50-20-30 Rule of Budgeting you can read it HERE or Get your own 2016 Revised Edition Copy of the Budget Template by sending a request on email@example.com
Step 5 is to start budgeting
Put an amount dedicated to each category and stick to your budget. Don’t forget to adjust your budget if needed.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ITEMS YOU SHOULD BUDGET FOR?
There are categories in your budget that calls for special attention because failure to pay may cause you to be in a big financial trap. This includes your savings or money that will go on your emergency fund. Payment for your credit card debt is also important so you won’t miss any billing and pay additional interest rate. READ: Budget Categories
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR EXPENSES IS BIGGER THAN YOUR INCOME?
This is a common scenario once you have successfully created your first budget. You will have an idea whether you’ve been overspending all this time or not. The reason why I highly suggest to apply the 50-20-30 Rule of Budgeting is for you to have an initial idea of how much money you can only spend on your budget categories. Get your own 2016 Revised Edition Copy of the Budget Template by sending a request on firstname.lastname@example.org
In case your budget revealed that you have more amount set on your expenses than your current income then you need to harshly cut-off on items that can be cut-off. From coffee dates, dining out, movie times, etc. you have to simply stop for awhile so you’ll have money for more important items. You may also try a no-spend week or month rule where you can’t buy anything and save a ton of money.
HOW TO EFFECTIVELY BUDGET YOUR MONEY?
Again it takes a lot of financial discipline to effectively budget your money. But the few items that can help you are as follows:
- Put your mind, heart and soul in your spending plan
You need this a lot to succeed in keeping a budget. If you are half-hearted from the start then you’ll certainly fail big time.
- Create your financial goals
If you want to stay motivated to save or to invest or to keep your budget then don’t forget to create simple goals daily, weekly or monthly.
- Track your expenses from smallest to largest
Once you’ve set up a budget on each category the next big step is to track your expenses up to the last penny. You can do this by a simple DIY Spending Tracker Notebook.
Succeeding in keeping a budget is total hard work. You need strong will and financial discipline to stick to the plan. If the budget for the current month failed then try again next month until you find out the perfect budget for your needs.
HOW TO BUDGET FOR GROCERY SHOPPING?
Grocery shopping especially is one of the hardest category to budget. If you want to save money on grocery shopping then you need to budget successfully.
1. First try to create a weekly meal plan. Write down ideas on what meal will be prepared on particular day from breakfast, lunch to dinner.
2. Next is to prepare a list of the ingredients and items you need for each meal.
3. Write your budget beside each ingredient based on your projection from last month’s grocery shopping.
4. When you do actual grocery shopping make sure to check for discount items. Try to buy in bulk so you can save for the next grocery shopping (as long as you have extra cash).
5. Maximize leftovers by doing a second meal with them. You can search a lot of meal hacks online for reference.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BUDGET YOUR MONEY?
It is best to budget your money every pay day or every time you earn some money. The technique is to record the amount automatically and then do your budget before spending. If you follow the above routine every single time you have money in your “in- flow” you’ll be at ease to spend.