How to Create a Simple Monthly Budget
March 18, 2015 / Sara Davis / Budgeting 101: The Basics of Saving Money
You know the importance of having a monthly budget in place. You've been hearing it your entire life. You see it on signs and commercials, and learned about it from your parents and classrooms. Now, you are reading it again here. So are you ready? Have you decided that it is time to establish a monthly budget to keep your expenses in line?
You will find that having a budget in place will radically help you manage your life expenses. And once you get in the habit of keeping up with your budget from month to month, you will be in better control of yourself and your spending habits. So how do you set up a budget? Well, it is not as difficult as you might think.
Establishing a monthly budget
When it comes to making a budget you can be as intricate or simple as possible. Maybe you want to include all of your daily items in a lump sum or itemize each one so you can be more accurate. The bottom line is, whatever works for you is what you should stick to, but you need to make sure you stick to it.
"A budget does you no good if you don't live by it."
List your expenses: No matter what resource you check for advice on putting together a budget, this is the first step. If you don't have a list put together of your resources then what are you budgeting? The For Dummies website recommended listing your major expenses first and your smaller expenses toward the bottom. These large expenses are probably payments that are staples every month and don't change, or change little, such as loan payments or electricity bills.
List your total income: This item goes hand in hand with the item above. You need to have an accurate base from which you are starting from. According to WiseBread, you should add up all of your income, whether it is coming from multiple jobs, or perhaps you are your spouse have separate incomes. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but if you have less coming in than going out, you have a serious problem. The amount going in should ideally be higher than the amount going out. If this is not the case then start eliminating items from the bottom of your prioritized list and work your way up.
Making use of tools
Once you are in the habit of maintaining and acting on a budgeted lifestyle, it isn't hard to keep up with. However, it is just starting out that is the problem. Like many new routines, it will take a while to break in. But that shouldn't be a deterrent. In fact, it should be inspirational, knowing that if you keep after it you'll be able to budget and prioritize simply. But until you get in the swing of things, here are a few tools to help you along the way.
Use a notebook: Keeping a notebook can be a great way to have your budget organized and accessible. You can designate a page per month and compare them as the year goes by, watching your progress as your bills go down and your savings goes up. According to U.S. News & World Report, a notebook should be the first place you verify and record your expenses. But this doesn't mean you have to rely on paper. It is a digital age with digital notebooks that you can access from your smartphone – so use it if you are one who is always on the go, or needs to record that expenditure right when it happens.
Create a template: There are many companies that provide free templates for budgeting purposes. Simply Google it to get a whole range, but here is a link to Microsoft's basic free templates. You can download these, update them and continually add to them. Go ahead, you've already passed the link, click on it now! What are you waiting for?
There is no reason to wait when it comes to establishing a budget and practicing a budgeted lifestyle. You will benefit your savings account, your family and yourself. Use whatever modern tools you need to, just get in the habit of sticking to your budget.