Everyone needs a budget, whether they have a lot of money or a little money. It’s pretty simple: you need to know how much money you have and how much you will earn in order to make smart decisions about how you will spend. A simple trip down memory lane will make the point. Pretend you’re in first grade and you are going to the toy store.
- Open your favorite spreadsheet - or get down to basics with paper, pencil, and calculator.
- Make a list of your monthly net (after-tax) income sources and expected amounts, and add those together.
- Make a list of your monthly expenses, remembering to allow money for savings, some for special events such as birthdays and anniversaries, and some for unexpected items. Now total your expenses for the month.
- Compare your total income and total expenses.
- If, on paper, you have money left over but in reality you are living close to the edge or falling behind, then you have not accounted for everything or some of your figures are wrong. Examine your budget for inaccuracies and make corrections
- If the expenses are greater than the income, you’ve got some work to do. It may be as simple as identifying the expenses that are not “needs” and cutting back on those.
- Decide whether your current saving and spending habits allow you to meet your goals. If you want to save more, or pay off a particular bill, adjust your spending plan accordingly.
Congratulations! You’ve just created a budget.